Intervertebral Disc Disease Average Cost

From 7 quotes ranging from $2,000 - 12,000

Average Cost


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What is Intervertebral Disc Disease?

An intervertebral disc is essentially a cushion in between the bones of the spine. These discs, under the influence of certain forces, can become swollen or even rupture over time, ultimately causing damage to the spinal cord. The rupture can be either progressive, in which case it is more likely to be detected in time for treatment, or immediate, which may cause some added complications. This disease is most prevalent in chondrodystrophoid breeds (breeds with dwarfism in the genes) of dogs, such as the Dachshund, Pekinese, Beagle, and Lhasa Apso breeds.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is the rupture of discs that serve as cushions between the vertebrae of the spine. It is common in breeds with dwarfism. Possible symptoms include pain, loss of limb function and loss of feeling. Treatment options include medications and two types of surgery. Depending on the damage to the spine, there is a risk of the dog being paralyzed, though dogs with minimal damage have a good prognosis.

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Symptoms of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Because this disease causes intervertebral disc rupture that damages the spinal cord, varying degrees of pain occur. Some possible symptoms your dog may display include:

  • Pain in the back or neck, typically causing refusal to walk or look around
  • Loss of hind limb function
  • Loss of ability to urinate
  • Loss of experiencing pain (in severe cases)
  • Hesitant to go up or down stairs
  • Neck muscles are tense, may spasm
  • Reluctance to jump
  • Tense abdomen
  • Restlessness
  • Vocalization of pain

Intervertebral disc disease can be categorized by the location of the spinal cord where the damage occurs. This grouping classification is called neurolocalization, and assists in diagnosis and treatment.

  • Location-based types - Large regions of the spine are used to classify disc ruptures. These are broken down into the cervical vertebral 1-5, cervical vertebrae 6 through thoracic vertebrae 2, thoracic vertebrae 3 through lumbar vertebrae 3, and lumbar vertebrae 4 through the sacrum.

Causes of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Intervertebral disc disease can be caused by one of two types of damage to the spinal cord: compression and concussion.

  • Compression is usually the result of gradual degeneration, causing the central gel of the disc to lose its fluid and become more susceptible to general wear and tear. When this occurs, normal life may cause the central portion of the disc to rupture into or through the outer layer, putting pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. This is often referred to as a slipped disc.
  • Concussion, alternatively, is when the disc is ruptured in one immediate motion, sometimes resulting in paralysis. This is not typically caused by any one event, rather a combination of everyday activity and deterioration of the disc.

Diagnosis of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

The method of diagnosis will depend largely on your dog’s symptoms and breed. If your dog is predisposed to intervertebral disc disease, such as chondrodystrophoid breeds, there is a high chance that intervertebral disc disease is the problem. Depending on symptoms, some tests may be completed to rule out other spinal problems. Possible diagnostic tests include:

  • Physical exam
  • Neurologic exam
  • Complete blood work
  • Serum chemistry
  • Urinanalysis
  • X-rays
  • Myelogram (spinal x-ray using a dye to highlight compression) and anesthesia
  • MRI
  • CT Scan
  • Spinal tap

Treatment of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

The course of treatment that the doctor ends up suggesting will depend directly on the severity of the damage directly to the spinal cord. If this is the first occurrence and the spinal cord has minimal damage, conservative treatment such as cage rest, confinement, and pain medications may be an option. For any greater damage, the following alternative treatment options exist:

  • Depending on the severity of damage, medications may be used. Some common medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroid drugs.
  • If the case is that the damage is unquestionably severe, and medication driven treatment is ineffective, surgery may be necessary. Neurosurgery is an option, and should be done by an outside expert in the field. Expect to have another round of x-rays as part of the preparation for surgery. There are two types of operational surgery that may be done: fenestration and decompressive surgery. Which surgery is best for your pet will be determined by the diagnostic tests and x-ray results.
With many dogs who have intervertebral disc disease, they will likely experience a ruptured disc more than once in their lifetime. If the same disc continues to rupture or cause problems, surgery will likely be used to try to address the problem.

Recovery of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Recovery and management depends largely on the course of treatment. After surgery, Most pets are discharged within 3-7 days. Possible post-surgery restrictions include bladder expression 3-4 times a day, rehabilitation and bed rest for at least four weeks. Complications may include seizures, infection of the incision, continued trouble walking, additional herniated discs later in life. Depending on the severity and complexity of the spinal damage, the biggest risk is the loss of the ability to walk. For most cases where damage isn’t excessively severe, though, the dog’s chance of walking again is high.

Cost of Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

The cost will rise or fall based on which tests the doctor is forced to complete in order to successfully diagnose the reason of your dogs symptoms. The total cost for diagnostic tests, which should include a physical exam, neurological exam, urinalysis, blood work, x-rays, serum chemistry, myelogram, MRI, CT Scan and a spinal tap may cost around upwards of $4,800 Treatment may include medications, or surgery, coming in around $9,000 total. Your actual cost will vary depending on diagnosis and treatment courses, as well as pharmacy, veterinarian, and specialty specifications and requirements. The total estimated cost can reach upwards of $15,500, with additional monthly costs ranging from $150 to $300 for medication.

Intervertebral Disc Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Cairn Terrier
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of Balance

11 yr old Cairn Terrier. 4 days ago, started falling going up steps. 3 days ago noticed that his front left leg was sliding out from under him as he moved and he was favouring it. 2 days ago it started affecting all legs. He would stand up and fall down. He walks gingerly and any leg might slide out and away at any time. No change in personality or eating habits. No circling behaviour or tenderness to touch anywhere on body. Took him to vet and blood work came back normal. They put him on pain meds as they also noticed reaction to being touched in shoulders. Physical exam was fine and said we could move to x rays and MRI if we wanted. Any thoughts?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2008 Recommendations
At this point I agree with your Veterinarian that an x-ray at a minimum is required to determine if there is any spinal issues which may be causing this leg weakness; a physical examine can only tell so much. Continue with the current medication to see if there is any improvement, but you should have an x-ray done first (possibly myelography) to see if it sheds light on any specific cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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9 Days
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Panda is a 9 year old Bassador. Last week she was moving, running, and acting normal. A few days ago, she began having what we thought were issues with her back knees. She was placed on a few pain meds and was slow, but showed brief signs of her old self. This week, she went to the vet for a follow up. Coming out of the car, he hindquarters stopped working. She still has movement and feeling in her back legs. After an xray, the vet mentioned that it could be IVDD. After researching the symptoms, we are fairly convinced this is what it is. She has been placed on a steroid and been told to have restricted movement. We are torn whether or not to gracefully let her go or to continue to fight. How long into the treatment do most dogs respond? We want to remain very optomistic but also want to be respectful of her quality of life. Thank you.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2008 Recommendations
This is really one of those take it ‘day by day’ cases, you should see how Panda responds to the treatment and rest; rest really is best in these instances and can prove valuable. You may also want to consider other therapies like acupuncture and laser therapy which may help with pain management and movement. Each case is different and you need to see how Panda is in general after a few days. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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7 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Cant Move Legs
Lose feeling in back legs

Medication Used


Last week- till today she has been limping and we took her to the vet last week. They gave her a shot and meds to help with swelling it helped for about a week but she started to walk slowly 2 days ago again and today we took her this morning and the vet said something about disc in her back? And surgery may be an option. Right now she seems to be dragging on her back and seems like she’s losing the feeling in them. Is surgery still an option even though her back legs are like that? Her front legs are working just fine and I believe she is experiencing pain , she doesn’t yell but she groans & I read that not experiencing pain is in severe cases.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2008 Recommendations
It is more severe if Daisy is not feeling deep pain in her legs, remember that spinal issues are common in Dachshunds and surgical stabilisation of the spine may be required; the first step would be to take x-rays of the spine and to see the severity of any anomaly so that a plan for medical management or surgical stabilisation can be made (more likely surgery at this point). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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miniature dachshund
3 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Paralysis in hind legs

My daughter's mini doxie is now paralyzed from what we think is IVDD. reading this information and talking to the vet, there is no guarantee the surgery will work, the only other option we were given was to "put her down" I am at a total loss because we cannot afford the surgery but my daughter will be distraught. Any recommendations of alternate options?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2008 Recommendations

Unfortunately one of the most common problems in dachshunds are spinal issues whether is it intervertebral disk disease or subluxation. Surgery to stabilise the spine is the treatment of choice, but may be cost prohibitive; however, electroacupuncture has been demonstrated as giving improvements in movement and pain response. I have included two links below that make interesting reading. P.s. I also added a link to find a certified Veterinary Acupuncture Practitioner (all people on the list are licensed Veterinarians) and for reference Dachshunds are a chondrodystrophic breed (second link). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Siberian Husky
1 Year
Moderate condition
2 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Not Sleeping Well
hard to control her bowls
lack of engery
screaming and yelping
Arched back

Medication Used

Previcox tablets

I am wondering what we should do about our husky, she has the symptoms of IVDD but the vet we took her to says that he thinks it could menegitis or possibly even our dog having seizures. She has been put on a medication called previcox for 4 days now but is still screaming in pain, should we try the medicine a bit longer or take her somewhere else?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2008 Recommendations

Many causes may cause the symptoms you’re describing but most usually occur in older dogs which is probably why your Veterinarian suspected meningitis or other neurological disease. Other conditions like intervertebral disease bone spurs and other conditions can be easily diagnosed or ruled out with a simple x-ray (possibly with myelography). If you have concerns, speak with your Veterinarian to have an x-ray performed to give you peace of mind. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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