Intervertebral disc herniation, degenerative myelopathy, fibrocartilaginous embolism and polyradiculoneuritis often affect dogs; and physiotherapy may improve the patient's quality of life and/or reduce recovery times. The aim of this review was to evaluate the current scientific outcomes on these four neurological diseases and on their physiotherapy approaches. From the analysis of the published articles, it emerged that intervertebral disc herniation can be treated, with different rates of success, through a conservative or a surgical approach followed by physiotherapy. The literature is generally oriented toward the efficacy of the rehabilitation approach in this specific canine disease, often proposing intensive post-surgery physiotherapy for the most severe conditions with the absence of deep pain perception. When degenerative myelopathy, fibrocartilaginous embolism or polyradiculoneuritis occur, the existing literature supports the use of a physiotherapeutic approach: allowing a delay in the onset and worsening of the clinical signs in degenerative myelopathy, physical improvement, and, sometimes, complete remission during fibrocartilaginous embolism or acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis. However, papers on rehabilitation in dogs affected by polyradiculoneuritis are currently limited to single clinical cases and further blinded, controlled, prospective studies are still advisable for all four neurological diseases.
Keywords: degenerative myelopathy; dog; fibro-cartilaginous embolism; intervertebral disc herniation; physiotherapy; polyradicoloneuritis; rehabilitation.