Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is an age-related degenerative disease commonly seen in dogs and occasionally in cats. It happens that the most common spinal cord performed for dogs is as a result of this disease. When the intervertebral disc, which supports and acts as a shock absorber degenerates, it can lead to spinal cord compression and disc herniation.
Causes of IVDD in dogs
The cause of IVDD in dogs is when the intervertebral disc begins to harden or degenerate. They may harden till they no longer have the cushioning effect on the spinal vertebrae. Thus, when the dog jumps forcefully or lands badly, the disc(s) could burst and affect the nerves protected by the spinal cord. This could lead to severe pain, nerve damage, or paralysis. Further, the discs could bulge or constrict the spinal cord. The nerve impulses could be damaged, causing loss of bladder and bowel control. Overweight dogs are also at risk of IVDD.
Intervertebral disc disease in dogs could be breed-specific. Although an age-related disease, specific breeds are at risk of IVDD as young adults. Chondrodystrophic dogs such as the Basset Hound, Lucas Terriers, Poodles, Dachshund, Bulldogs, Sealyhams, Corgis, and Schih Tzus suffer early degenerative changes to the intervertebral discs. Non-chondrodystrophic dogs such as German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Labrador Retrievers are also affected.
Symptoms of IVDD
IVDD symptoms include;
- Stiffness of neck, limbs, or back
- Obvious weakness
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Dragging rear legs
- Back or muscle spasms
Detecting these symptoms early enough is important to minimize permanent nerve damage.
Diagnosis and Treatment of IVDD
Diagnosing IVDD requires veterinary examination of the dog, including neurological exams, special imaging like CT scan and MRI, and X-rays to locate the injury. Mild to moderate injury will mean IVDD treatment using anti-inflammatory medications and steroids to relieve pain and swelling. Confined rest is a non-drug treatment also recommended as movement may make it worse. In severe cases of dog IVDD, surgery may be required to free space around the spinal cord. The surgery is greatly successful in non-paralyzed dogs who have not lost their ability to walk prior to surgery.
Chronic cases may also require stem cell therapy that concentrates on targeting the glacial scar for effectiveness, which is usually formed as a result of severe degeneration.To ensure the stem cells target the glacial scar accurately, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is necessary for identifying the scar area.
Physical rehabilitation is commenced after surgery to strengthen the muscles. This necessary because the pet may have adapted to using the front legs, forgetting the hind legs for movement.
Preventing IVDD in dogs
Pet owners can minimize the risk of IVDD to their pets by
- Ensuring that the pet’s weight is properly managed to prevent obesity, especially for breed-specific pets predisposed to the disease.
- Minimizing your pet’s jumps off high platforms
- Minimizing using a neck leash when going on walks to prevent neck stress
- Considering a brace for the pet’s back to minimize risk.
The process of recovery for your pet might take time. Thus, you will require the help of your veterinarian or need to visit an animal care hospital in Texas, and a good example is the Safari Veterinary care center if you live in the vicinity.