Essential Facts About Slipped Disc in Dogs: What Every Dog Owner Should Know!


Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), also known as a slipped disc in dogs, is a common condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae in the spinal column become damaged or deteriorate. This condition can lead to a range of symptoms, from minor issues to partial or complete paralysis.

Although IVDD is most frequently observed in dogs of smaller breeds, dogs of any age, size, or breed can develop the condition. The disease may be treated with medicinal therapy, and while surgery may be required in certain instances, it is not always essential.

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Let’s discuss everything about IVDD in dogs starting from general information to its treatment and recovery.

General Information

The intervertebral discs operate as shock absorbers, giving cushioning and supporting the dog’s spine. Each disc contains a robust outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a soft, gel-like interior called the nucleus pulposus.

When a dog suffers from IVDD, the disc may become injured or degenerate, resulting in the nucleus pulposus protruding through the annulus fibrosus or herniating through it. This can cause the spinal cord or nerve roots of spinal nerves to be compressed, resulting in various symptoms.

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Slipped Disc or IVDD Symptoms in Dogs

The signs and symptoms of IVDD might change based on the severity of the ailment as well as the area of the spine that is being affected. The following are some of the most often occurring clinical signs and symptoms:

  • A loss of control over the bowels or bladder
  • Pain or stiffness in the dog’s back
  • Reluctance to move or jump
  • A deficit in either coordination or balance
  • Loss of control of the dog’s hindquarters
  • Unable to walk or stand up by oneself

If you observe any of these symptoms in your pet, you must have your dog checked out as soon as possible by a veterinarian.

The progression of IVDD can be rapid, but early management can help improve the prognosis for your dog.

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Grading Scale for a Pup With Slipped Disc Symptoms

Symptoms of slipped discs in dogs are normally graded on a scale ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being a moderate case and 5 representing a severe case.

The grading system provides veterinary professionals with a helpful tool for determining the seriousness of the ailment and developing an effective treatment strategy.

  • Grade 1: Pain and stiffness are minimal, but no neurological impairments are seen at this stage.
  • Grade 2: Mild pain and stiffness, with minor neurological impairments such as weakness or stumbling. 
  • Grade 3: Excruciating pain, stiffness, and significant neurological impairments such as difficulty walking or standing.
  • Grade 4: Paralysis of one or more limbs, with limited feeling and severe pain sensation in the areas that have been damaged.
  • Grade 5: total paralysis, including loss of feeling and all movement in the afflicted regions.

It is essential to remember that the grading system is only a guideline and that a veterinarian will conduct an in-depth examination of each dog’s health individually.

Your dog’s prognosis can be improved if it receives an accurate diagnosis and treatment promptly, which can help stop the progression of the ailment.

IVDD Diagnosis

Physical examination, imaging testing, and neurological evaluation are often used in conjunction with one another in case of IVDD diagnosis in dogs. Your dog’s reflexes, sensitivity, and coordination could all be evaluated during a neurological exam your veterinarian gives him or her.

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Diagnostic tests

Diagnostic tests such as x-rays, computed tomography scans, or magnetic resonance imaging scans may also be required to see the dog’s spinal cord and vertebral column and detect any intervertebral disc herniation or spinal cord compression.

IVDD Treatment Options

As with a definitive diagnosis, the treatment for IVDD is individualized for each patient based on the severity of their ailment as well as the location of the herniated disc.

Conservative therapy may be sufficient for treating moderate instances, while surgical intervention may be required for treating more severe cases.

Conservative Management

The conservative treatment of IVDD often consists of getting enough rest, using pain medication, and engaging in physical therapy. It is possible that your pet’s doctor would suggest that you confine them to a box or a limited space in order to restrict their activity and prevent additional injuries.

The use of non-steroidal anti inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), opioids, or any other appropriate pain medication is one pain treatment method. In addition to medication and other forms of pain management, physical therapy treatments like massage and acupuncture may be beneficial in easing discomfort and fostering greater mobility.

Dog Wheelchair

When it comes to assisting dogs with slipped discs in regaining their mobility and independence, the use of a dog wheelchair can be an extremely useful tool. A dog wheelchair can alleviate pressure on the painful region of the spine and minimize pain by providing support for the animal’s hindquarters and allowing them freedom of movement.

A dog wheelchair can also help prevent further damage and difficulties by allowing the dog to exercise and keep muscle strength without placing undue stress on the spine.

Spinal Surgery

In more severe cases of intravertebral disc degeneration, spinal surgery may be required to remove the material from the herniated disc and decompress the spinal cord.

The precise location of the herniated disc and its degree of severity will determine the kind of surgical procedure carried out. The following are some of the most prevalent types of surgical procedures:

  • Hemilaminectomy: It refers to a technique undergoing a spinal canal surgery in which a portion of the vertebra is removed in order to reach the herniated disc material.
  • Intervertebral Disc Fenestration: It is a surgery that includes creating a tiny hole in the disc so that the herniated material may be extracted (usually done in case of disc rupture during spinal injury).
  • Ventral Slot: It refers to a surgical operation that includes accessing the disc material from the bottom of the spinal column.

Your dog’s unique requirements and the severity of its disease will be taken into account when your veterinarian discusses the many treatment choices including medications and IVDD surgery available to you for your pet.

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Recovery and Home Care

Your dog’s full recovery time frame will vary from one dog to other. The time needed for recovery will be longer for dogs that underwent surgery than those that got conservative care.

It is critical to carefully adhere to the post-operative care recommendations provided by your veterinarian if you want your dog to have the best possible outcome from the procedure.

During the time that your dog is recovering, you must restrict the amount of activity they engage in and provide an atmosphere in which they may relax in comfort and safety.

To assist in enhancing mobility and avoiding muscular atrophy, your veterinarian may suggest physical therapy activities for you to do. It is also essential that you keep a close eye on your dog’s bowel control and bladder functions and offer the necessary support to him if he requires it.

When to Contact Your Vet?

You must contact your dog’s veterinarian as soon as possible if you have any reason to believe your dog may suffer signs of IVDD. The quicker your dog receives diagnostic imaging tests and begins treatment, the better the prognosis will be.

If your dog has already been diagnosed with IVDD and is being treated for it, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as you observe any changes in their health or if they appear to be in discomfort.

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Most Affected Breeds

IVDD is most frequently observed in canines of a small to large breed dogs however, such as Dachshunds, Beagles, and French Bulldogs; nevertheless, dogs of any breed, age, or size can be affected by the condition.

There is a possibility that certain breeds are more susceptible to illness owing to the genetic makeup or the physical traits of the breed. For instance, Dachshunds have a large bodies but small legs, which places additional pressure on their spinal column and can increase the likelihood of developing intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

What Is the Cost of Ivdd or Disc Degeneration Treatment in Dogs?

The amount of money spent on therapy for IVDD might change based on the severity of the disease as well as the specific treatment that is necessary. The cost of more conservative care may be $300 to $500, but surgery costs $3000 to $6000.

There is a possibility that the price of treatment will change depending not only on your area but also on the veterinary facility that you pick. Before settling on a solution, it is critical to talk with your veterinarian about the expense of the therapy and weigh all of your available alternatives.

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IVDD is a common condition that affects most dogs, and can cause symptoms ranging from slight pain to paralysis in severe cases. Even though the ailment is more frequently observed in canines of smaller breeds, it is possible for any dog, regardless of size or breed, to be affected by it.

The earliest possible diagnosis and treatment are essential for achieving the best outcome possible. Depending on the severity of the illness, one of the treatment choices may entail surgical intervention or more conservative management. Recovery and care at home are both necessary for a positive outcome.

You must monitor your dog’s condition and contact your veterinarian if you observe any changes or have any worries about him.

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