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Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Intervertebral disc disease in Dogs is a sort of spinal disease that imposes severe pain and neurological dysfunctions. The major cause of this disease is spinal cord injury that leads to disturbing the gait pattern of dogs. It causes weakness and loss of comfort.

What are the characteristic features of Intervertebral Disc Disease in dogs?

First of all, we try to understand what the composition of intervertebral discs is. These are fibrocartilaginous cushions present between the vertebrae and reduce the friction between them. Intervertebral discs also provide support and motion to vertebrae along with the shock-absorbing ability.

The outer capsule of the disc attributes to annular fibrosis that surrounds the jelly-like material—nuclear pulposus. When there is any degeneration in the annular fibrosis, the shock-absorbing ability diminishes. This condition exhibits itself by developing disc herniation and spinal cord injury.

Among all the spinal surgeries performed in dogs, Intervertebral Disc Disease surgery is most common. 

What are the general causes of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs?

The occurrence of IVDD has a close association with the age of the dog. It means senior dogs are prone to develop diseases than the younger ones. Moreover, there are some breed-related factors that ensure the prevalence of disease even at a younger age. Mostly the dogs with short legs are easily susceptible.

The chondrodystrophic breeds are likely to form discs that cannot hold enough water; thus, their dehydration occurs. Dehydration leads to degeneration of intervertebral discs thus, the chances of disc herniation increase as well. These breeds include Basset Hounds, Lucas Terriers, Shih Tzus, and Dachshund.

The major loss that the dog faces after developing disc herniation is the disability to absorb shocks. This situation ultimately gets down to compress the spinal cord and thus enhances the chances of spinal injuries.

How many types of Intervertebral Disc Disease are currently known?

Normally there are two main types of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs. One of them is Type I, whereas the other is Type II. Let’s try to learn more about the etiology of these two types.

  • Type I

Type I Intervertebral Disc Disease of dogs is the acute form, and it has a sudden onset. Normally, it has the characteristic feature of extrusion of inner Intervertebral disc contents. This condition also gets its name as disc herniation. The inner disc material keeps on hardening and forms a hard structure instead.

Moreover, the major consequence of the inner material hardening is the loss of cushioning effect by the disc. In addition, your dog may suffer severe pain to paralysis in Type I disc disease.

Breeds that have short legs and long backs are easy prey of IVDD. These include French Bulldogs, Dachshunds, and beagles.

  • Type II

In this type, there is evidence of annular fibrosis (outer part) extrusion and bulging, just like the bulging doughnut. The bulging of the capsule follows the degeneration, and thus the protrusion of the inner mass occurs. In rare cases, the torn mass of the capsule extrudes into the spine and leads to its compressing.

The clinical signs include the reluctance to jump and run. There is also evidence of hunched and stiffed back in dogs. Unlike Type I, It is the disease of dogs without short limbs.

How can one diagnose the Intervertebral Disc Disease in dogs?

The clinical signs of Intervertebral Disc Diseases in dogs vary among breeds and individuals. Most of the time, the vulnerable dog may present the sensation of pain in the back or the neck region. The situation progresses with the loss of feeling in the legs, and dogs become unable to walk.

Moreover, the region of the affected disc and the extent of the spinal injury determine the severity of signs. The differential diagnosis, in this case, may include bony tumors and disc infection. Your veterinarian has to differentiate the IVDD from these conditions by performing radiography.

There are chances of confusion between IVDD and other conditions like bony tumors and disc infection using radiography. The use of MRI and CT scan is helpful for confirmatory diagnosis. These are advanced imaging techniques with deep details.

What is the treatment of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs?

There are certain ways to get your dog free from the severity of Intervertebral Disc Disease. No matter what type of severity is, the diagnosis and treatment are almost the same. The provision of medical management at an early stage can eliminate the signs without surgical intervention.

The use of anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain is mandatory in any degenerative disease. Moreover, anti-anxiety drugs are also beneficial for dogs putting in cage rest to restrict their unnecessary movements.

Conclusion

Disc herniation is common in dogs having extreme athletic activities. You just need to pay close attention to your dogs by palpating different body regions to catch the disease signs early. This will help you to treat the IVDD without putting your dog in severe disease conditions.

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