Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs: A Closer Look What To Know About Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs: A Closer Look

When the discs between the vertebrae in the dog's spine get harmed or degraded, it results in intervertebral disc disease. In this article, we delve into this canine disease and how it can be prevented.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common spine problem in dogs that affects many dog breeds, particularly those with long backs, like dachshunds, beagles, and basset hounds. When the discs between the vertebrae in the spine become damaged or deteriorated, it causes discomfort, inflammation, and possibly severe neurological problems.

The origins, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for canine intervertebral disc disease will be discussed in this article. We will also look at some preventative actions that owners can take to assist their pets in avoiding this painful and debilitating condition.


Canine IVDD can have several causes, which may include one or more of the following:

  • Genetics: Certain breeds of dogs, such as dachshunds, basset hounds, and beagles, are genetically predisposed to IVDD due to the structure of their spines.

  • Age: As dogs get older, their intervertebral discs lose flexibility and become more prone to degeneration, which can lead to IVDD.

  • Obesity: Due to the increased strain on their spines, overweight dogs are more likely to develop IVDD.

  • Physical trauma: Jumping or falling from heights, car accidents, or other physical trauma can damage the intervertebral discs and lead to IVDD.

  • Repetitive stress: Certain activities, such as jumping or running on hard surfaces, can put repetitive stress on the spine and increase the risk of developing IVDD.

  • Environmental factors: Cold and damp weather can exacerbate symptoms of IVDD, and exposure to certain toxins may also increase the risk of developing this condition.

Intervertebral Disc Syndrome in Dogs

IVDD paralysis symptoms in dogs vary depending on the degree and location of the damaged disc. Some of the known signs of IVDD in dogs are as follows:

  • Back pain or sensitivity: Dogs with IVDD may experience pain or sensitivity along their spine, particularly in the lower back or neck.

  • Difficulty standing or walking: IVDD dogs may have difficulties standing, walking, or jumping. They may appear shaky, uncoordinated, or weak.

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control: Severe cases of IVDD can end in loss of bladder or bowel control due to nerve damage.

  • Decreased appetite: Dogs with IVDD may experience a decreased appetite, as they may be too uncomfortable or in too much pain to eat.

  • Yelps or cries in pain: Dogs with IVDD may yelp, cry out, or whimper in pain when touched or moved.

Treatment and Management Options

Dog spinal compression treatment varies according to the degree and location of the damaged disc. Conservative treatment may be sufficient in moderate instances. Surgery, on the other hand, may be necessary in more severe cases. Some of the most common IVDD therapy and management strategies for dogs include:

  • Rest and confinement: In mild cases of IVDD, rest and confinement may be recommended to allow the affected disc to heal. This may involve limiting activity and using a crate or other confined space to prevent further injury.

  • Pain management: Pain medications, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be used to manage pain associated with IVDD. Other medications, such as muscle relaxants or opioids, may also be used in some cases.

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy, such as massage or passive range-of-motion exercises, may be used to help improve mobility and reduce pain.

  • Surgery: Surgery may be needed in more severe cases in compressed spine dogs to remove the damaged disc or relieve pressure on the spinal cord. This may entail a number of surgical procedures, such as a hemilaminectomy or a ventral slot surgery.

Prevention Tips

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in dogs may be a painful and debilitating ailment, but there are various preventative measures that owners can take. Some important preventative measures include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Overweight dogs are at higher risk of developing IVDD due to the increased strain on their spines. Feeding a balanced diet and providing regular exercise can help keep your dog at a healthy weight.

  • Using a harness instead of a collar: Walking your dog on a collar can put pressure on its neck and spine, increasing the risk of IVDD. Using a harness can distribute the pressure more evenly and help reduce the risk of injury.

  • Providing ramps or stairs: Jumping on and off furniture or stairs can put stress on your dog's spine and increase the risk of developing IVDD. Providing ramps or stairs can help your dog avoid these activities and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Avoiding high-impact activities: High-impact activities, like jumping or running on hard surfaces, might stress your dog's spine and raise the risk of IVDD. Low-impact exercise options, such as swimming or moderate strolling, can help lower injury risk.

  • Regular veterinary check-ups: Frequent veterinary check-ups can help detect early signs of IVDD and other health conditions before they become more serious. Your veterinarian can also provide guidance on preventive measures specific to your dog's breed, age, and lifestyle.

By taking these steps to prevent IVDD, owners can help keep their dogs healthy and comfortable for some years to come.

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