Intervertebral Disk Disease

Intervertebral disk disease is a serious pet health problem that can affect any breed of dog, but it is most common in those with short legs, long bodies and/or short noses. Your dog's back bone consists of many vertebra, which protect the spinal cord. Between each of these vertebras are intervertebral disks. Intervertebral disks are found along the entire length of the spine, from your dog's head to the very end of its tail. Not only do disks protect the spine when dogs run and jump, but they provide support and flexibility as well. However, in some pets, the discs are less able to absorb shocks to the spine. 

Intervertebral Disk Disease

How it Affects your pet

Intervertebral disks are made up of a strong casing called the annulus and a soft interior called the nucleus. As dogs age, disks naturally wear down and can result in back problems for some animals. However, in some canines, known as chondrodystrophic breeds, the disks often degenerate much more quickly. Degeneration begins with the calcification of the nucleus and a weakening of the annulus, which results in disks slipping away from the vertebra and protruding upwards. This will cause a compression of the spinal cord and interfere with its normal functions. Over time, this compression will deprive blood vessels of oxygen leading to varying degrees of damage to tissue in the spinal cord.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of Intervertebral Disk Disease in Pets: Reluctance to Move Head, Reluctance to Rise, Pain While Walking, Unable to Jump or Run, Unable to Navigate Stairs, Loss of Appetite, An Arched Back, Weakness of the Rear Legs, Loss of Bladder Control and Bowel Functions, Loss of Sensation in the Rear Legs and Hiding. It is essential to note that some pets may display only a couple of the above symptoms while others may show several. Additionally, symptoms can appear rapidly or they can develop over a long period of time. Typically, more signs of the disease will appear as the condition progresses.

Treatments

Treatment for intervertebral disk disease depends upon how far the condition has progressed. However, prognosis is generally good, especially when treatment is begun early on in the disease. In many cases, pain medication and steroidal drugs will be prescribed; however, surgery may be required in severe cases. If surgery is necessary, the vet will remove that part of the spine, which contains the collapsed disks. This is a process called surgical decompression. After any form of treatment, your dog will need anywhere from one to several weeks to fully recover. It is essential that you keep your pet calm following surgery to promote proper healing.

Breeds Affected

Any breed of dog and even cats can be subject to normal wear and tear of intervertebral disks. However, intervertebral disk disease is most common in canines that have short legs, long bodies and/or short snouts. The following breeds are all known to be vulnerable to the condition. Breeds most vulnerable to Intervertebral Disk Disease: Dachshunds, Pekingese, French Bulldog, Beagles, Corgis, Clumber Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Papillons, Sussex Spaniels and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens.

Intervertebral Disk Disease Affects

  • Intervertebral disks are made up of a strong casing called the annulus and a soft interior called the nucleus. As dogs age, disks naturally wear down and can result in back problems for some animals. However, in some canines, known as chondrodystrophic breeds, the disks often degenerate much more quickly. Degeneration begins with the calcification of the nucleus and a weakening of the annulus, which results in disks slipping away from the vertebra and protruding upwards. This will cause a compression of the spinal cord and interfere with its normal functions. Over time, this compression will deprive blood vessels of oxygen leading to varying degrees of damage to tissue in the spinal cord.

Similar conditions

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