Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), also known as herniated disc or slipped disc, is a condition where the fibrous tissue between the bones of the spine either bulge or rupture.

What Causes It?

Intervertebral disc disease as a gradual degenerative disease is most seen in older dogs. It can also result from a distressing incident, like a jump that has a poor landing.

This condition is common to dogs with short legs and long backs including

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Neck or back pain
  • Dragging feet
  • Complete loss of function in front or hind limbs
  • Lameness
  • Incontinence
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Trembling

Is it Life Threatening?

No, but if left untreated IVDD can lead to completely loss of mobility which will lead to further complications.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A veterinarian will perform a physical exam and a medical history questionnaire on your dog. Motor function, reflexes, gait, and response to foot and body manipulation will all be monitored. To gage severity of the condition x-rays, bloodwork, CT scan, or an MRI may be required.

What Are The Treatments?

For mild cases of IVDD, anti-inflammatories and crating will likely suffice. Keeping your dog in a crate will ensure it does exacerbate the existing injury. Improvement to the point of no longer needing treatment is likely within 4 weeks.

In severe cases, decompression surgery to remove the bone over the spinal canal may be required. Recovery from surgery will depend on the severity of the condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.