This is sometimes described as a dog ‘having a stroke’ – not the petting kind, but a sudden collapse and paralysis, usually of the hind legs.

The vertebral column provides a bony protective case around the spinal cord. The spinal cord is fed by a network of spinal arteries.

In FCE, somehow the material from the disc between the vertebrae, enters the arterial system and is carried to the spinal cord, where it causes a blood vessel obstruction – or ’embolism’. This area of the spinal cord actually dies as there is no blood supply to it.

It usually occurs in the lumbar area, affecting the hind limbs. It often occurs after injury at exercise or following a trauma.

It is not painful, but a full recovery is unlikely.

I treated a most fabulous Italian Greyhound called Herbie, who made an amazing recovery following a FCE. His hind legs always had a whirlwind action, but that little dog has so much zest for life, his long rehabilitation was worth every minute!

Herbie having regular massage to aid rehabilitation
Herbie having regular massage to aid rehabilitation


My name is Helen Clarke, and I am a qualified Canine Massage Therapist. I run clinics at Sandbourne House, Baughton, Worcestershire; Blackwardine Kennels, Leominster, Herefordshire and Hereford Canine Hydrocare, Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire. Canine Massage Therapy is about treating and meeting the needs of individual dogs, regardless of whether they are athletes or not. It is a results driven therapy - results that you can see and your dog can feel!!