Structure and Function of Nerves in Dogs

Below is information about the structure and function of the canine nerves. We will tell you about the general structure of the nerve, how nerves works in dogs, common diseases that affect the nervous system and common diagnostic tests performed in dogs to evaluate nerve function.

What Are Nerves?

Nerves are bundles of fibers made up of specialized cells that send and receive information to and from the brain. Your dog’s muscles, stomach, and even heart would not function if a nerve did not relay instructions from the brain. Nerves can be sensory (relay information on sensations), motor (cause activation of muscles) or mixed (both sensory and motor). Together, the nerves of the body make up the peripheral nervous system.

Where Are Nerves Located?

Most nerves extend from the brain or spinal cord to carry information to the muscles and organs. Twelve pairs of major nerves in the head arise from the brain and emerge through holes in the skull to reach their target areas such as the muzzle, eyeball, teeth and tongue. These nerves of the head are called cranial nerves. Nerves to the rest of the body arise in pairs from the spinal cord and exit from the vertebral column through spaces between the vertebrae and are called peripheral nerves.

What Is the General Structure of a Canine Nerve?

The basic unit of the nervous system is the neuron, which is a highly specialized cell. Neurons have two characteristic properties. The first is irritability, which means that they are capable of responding to stimulation. The second is conductivity, which means they are able to conduct impulses. A neuron consists of the following parts:

What Are the Functions of Nerves?

Depending on their function, nerves are classified as sensory, motor or mixed. Sensory, or afferent nerves carry information from the periphery of the body to the brain and spinal cord. Motor nerves or efferent nerves transmit impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the periphery. Mixed nerves are composed of both motor and sensory fibers and transmit messages in both directions.

What Are the Common Disease of Nerves in Dogs?

What Types of Diagnostic Tests Are Used to Evaluate Nerves?