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手遅れになる前に!犬の椎間板ヘルニアのグレードとその症状

犬

かつてのように、ペットとして犬を飼うというより、家族として犬を迎えることが増えている現在。犬の大きさにかかわらず、室内で家族のようにかわいがっているかたも増えましたね。

室外犬に比べれば、室内犬の方が病気になる確率は低いといえますが、室内犬がかかりやすい病気というものもあります。

その代表格と言えるのが「椎間板ヘルニア」です。

私たちの生活は、畳の床からフローリングの床に変わりました。犬にとって、ツルツルとすべるフローリングは氷の上を歩いているようなもので、踏ん張りがきかなくなります。それをかばい腰に負担がかかることで、犬の椎間板ヘルニアが増えているのです。

あなたの愛犬は、抱き上げるときにキャンとないたり、運動を嫌がったりすることがありませんか?

もしあれば、それは犬の椎間板ヘルニアの初期症状かもしれません。

椎間板ヘルニアは早期に発見して治療をはじめれば、犬にとっての負担も少なく回復も見込めますが、症状が進行してしまうと、死に至る病気まで発症する可能性がある恐ろしい一面も持っています。愛犬のためにも、あなたのためにも、いつもと違うなと感じたら早めに病院で診てもらいましょう。

今回は、犬の椎間板ヘルニアの症状についてお話していきます。ぜひ、頭の片隅に入れておいてくださいね。

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知っているようでよく知らない椎間板ヘルニア

ダックス

椎間板ヘルニアという言葉を聞いたことがある人は多いと思いますが、詳しいことは分からないという人も多いのではないでしょうか。

まずは、椎間板ヘルニアについて簡単にご説明しましょう。少し難しい話になりますが、お付き合いくださいね。

椎間板ヘルニアとは?

犬の脊柱は、頸椎7本、胸椎13本、腰椎7本の合計27本からできています。第1~第2頸椎は可動性の関節でつながっていますが、それ以下の脊椎の間は、それぞれゴムのような軟骨でつながっています。このゴムのような軟骨が「椎間板」です。椎間板には、脊椎にかかる衝撃を吸収し、圧力を分散する働きがあります。

ヘルニアというのは臓器が通常の場所にない症状のことを言います。

このことから分かるように、椎間板ヘルニアとは椎間板が本来ある場所から飛び出し、脊髄を圧迫している状態のことを言います。

おもな原因は?

おもな原因は大きくわけて2つあります。

ひとつは、椎間板への負担が大きくなりすぎたことが原因となる場合です。高いところからの飛び降りや飛び乗り、体をねじるなどの激しい運動は椎間板への負担を大きくします。

もうひとつは、椎間板の老化によるものです。椎間板が老化すると、関節の軟骨部が石灰化して、弾力性を失ってしまいます。

椎間板ヘルニアには2つの型がある

椎間板ヘルニアはハンセンⅠ型とハンセンⅡ型という2つの型に分けられます。

ハンセンⅠ型はダックスフンド、シーズー、ウェルシュコーギー、ビーグル、コッカースパニエルなどの軟骨異栄養症の犬に起こりやすいタイプです。3~6才くらいの若い年齢で急に発症します。

軟骨異栄養症とは、軟骨の形成不全で骨が発育されないことにより骨が短くなる病気のことです。この病気は遺伝子が関係していて、いくつかの犬種はこの遺伝子を定着させることによって作り出されています。その代表と言えば、足が短いことが特徴のダックスフンドです。

遺伝子は足だけに定着するわけではないので、体全体の骨や椎間板に異常が出やすい体質になってしまいます。そのため、ほかの犬種よりも椎間板ヘルニアが発症しやすいのです。

ハンセンⅡ型は加齢に伴って発症するタイプで、老犬に多く、慢性的に経過することが多いとされています。なりやすい犬種は、ヨークシャーテリア、マルチーズ、パピヨン、プードル、ゴールデンレトリバー、ラブラドールレトリバーなどで、体の大きさは無関係と言えるでしょう。

椎間板ヘルニアのグレードとその症状

少し難しい話が続きましたが、ここからは分かりやすく、犬の椎間板ヘルニアのグレードとその症状、見分け方についてお話していきましょう。

犬の椎間板ヘルニアのグレードは、症状の進行度によって5段階に分けられています。

グレード1

症状としては痛みのみです。運動を嫌がったり、いつもは上り下りできる段差の上り下りができなくなったり、抱きかかえたときにキャンとなくことがあります。

グレード1の椎間板ヘルニアの症状は、ぎっくり腰の症状と似ていますが、安易に自己診断せずに、病院で診断を受けることをおすすめします。

グレード2

マヒまではいきませんが、正常な歩行が困難になってきます。後ろ足の力が弱くなっているので、歩き方がふらふらしていたり、足をひきずりながら歩いたりします。

グレード3

マヒを伴う重度の症状です。後ろ足を自分で動かすことができなくなり、前足だけで歩くようになります。この段階では、自分の意思で排尿を行え、足を軽くつねると痛みを主張することができるレベルです。

グレード4

マヒを伴い、痛みに関して鈍くなってきます。足を軽くつねったときに痛みを感じないレベルです。この段階では、自分の意思で排尿ができません。膀胱に尿がいつでもたまっている状態なので、ポタポタと垂れ流しのようになります。

グレード5

この状態からの回復率はとても低くなります。歩行不可能な完全マヒ状態で、痛みをまったく感じない状態です。後ろ足をペンチなどで強くはさんでも、顔色ひとつ変えません。

椎間板ヘルニアは重症化すると「出血性脊髄軟化症」と呼ばれる死に至る恐ろしい病気まで発症する可能性があります。

出血性脊髄軟化症とは、ヘルニアを発症した場所から神経が死にはじめ、マヒが全身に広がっていく疾患です。椎間板ヘルニアを発症した犬のうち約5%の犬が、この出血性脊髄軟化症にかかるといわれています。愛犬を苦しめないために、早めの発見と早めの治療はとても重要ですね。

予防のために飼い主だからできること

愛犬を椎間板ヘルニアから守るために、飼い主だからできることがあります。

  • 高いところからの飛び降り、飛び乗りをさせないよう段差を少なくする工夫。
  • 抱き上げるときに、腰に負担のかからない抱き上げかたをする。
  • フローリングには絨毯を敷く。
  • 肉球に滑り止めクリームを塗る。
  • 肥満体にしないように、食事と運動に気を配る。

どれだけ気にかけていても、発症するときはしてしまいますが、少し気にかけるだけで予防につながります。愛犬のためにぜひ、できるところから心掛けてみてくださいね。

絶対に見逃すな! 犬の症状これだけは! 獣医さんにすぐ伝わる「ワンコ手帳」のススメ (impress QuickBooks)
インプレスコミュニケーションズ (2013-07-11)
売り上げランキング: 37,622

まとめ:人も犬も早期発見、早期治療が大切です

犬の椎間板ヘルニアは、なりやすい犬種だけが発症するわけではありません。すべての犬にある日突然椎間板ヘルニアを発症する恐れがあります。

椎間板ヘルニア予防のために、日頃から愛犬の腰や運動器官に負担をかけさせない生活を心がけましょう。

万が一にも症状が現れたら、なるべく早い段階で病院を受診することも大切です。軽度の椎間板ヘルニアは投薬治療で治すことができます。重症化する前に治療を開始することは、人でも犬でも大切なことです。

特に、ダックスフンドのようにハンセンⅠ型の椎間板ヘルニアを発症しやすい犬種は、わずか1日で、グレート1からグレード5に移行することもあります。いつもと違うなと思ったら早めに受診しましょう。

犬は人のように話せませんから、早期に発見できるように、日頃から愛犬の様子をしっかりと観察しておくことが大切ですね。

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