Spondylosis in dogs, also called spondylosis deformans, is a degenerative condition that usually occurs most along the spine in older dogs. There, degenerative disks cause bone spurs to develop. These bone spurs can form bridges from one vertebrae to the next, limiting flexibility and range of motion.
Most cases of spondylosis require minor pain relief, and dogs can live out healthy, comfortable lives with this condition. Read on to find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of spondylosis in dogs.
What Causes Spondylosis In Dogs
Any breed of dog can develop spondylosis, and most dogs often develop it during old age. Canines over the age of 10 are at a greater risk for this condition, and some vets believe that all older dogs develop it in some capacity if they live long enough. While there is still some debate about the exact causes of spondylosis, the main reasons bone spur growth begins on the spine are believed to be:
- Repetitive bone wear and stress
- Major injury
- Genetic predisposition
Poor nutrition, stress, and lack of exercise are also considered causes of some cases of spondylosis.
Spondylosis Symptoms in Dogs
Depending on the severity of this condition, symptoms of spondylosis may not manifest, and it can go unnoticed for the duration of a dog’s life. In other cases, bone spurs can grow too close to a nerve, causing pain or damage. Typical symptoms of spondylosis include:
- Restricted movement and rotation
- Sensitivity to touch
- Back pain
- Growths that you can feel along the spine
Treating Spondylosis in Dogs
To diagnosis spondylosis, your veterinarian may perform a physical, and will likely take X-rays of your dog’s chest and abdomen. Other tests to diagnose spondylosis and rule out other conditions may include an MRI, a myelogram, or a CT scan.
There is no cure or process to reverse spondylosis. Once your vet has concluded your dog has bone spurs, a treatment plan based on your dog’s condition will be recommended.
In less severe cases of spondylosis, no treatment will be needed. Doctors can prescribe drugs to help manage any pain or discomfort, and most pets can go on living a relatively normal life. For more severe cases of spondylosis in which the bone spurs are causing tissue or nerve damage or severe pain, surgery to remove them is an option.
Dogs diagnosed with spondylosis should have regular checkups. To maintain optimal health, vets may recommend physical therapy, weight loss, and exercise fitting for your dog’s body type and age. If your dog is overweight, the extra pounds may exacerbate this condition. Swimming is sometimes recommended as a safe, low-impact exercise for dogs with spondylosis that also helps strengthen muscles along the back.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.