Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Destructive / Pain / Wound

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Rated as moderate conditon

11 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Destructive / Pain / Wound

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Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, 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.

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
Types

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
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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.

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Intervertebral Disc Disease Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$9,000

Intervertebral Disc Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Loki

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Chihuahua

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9 Years

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Mild condition

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1 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Limping

I took Loki my chihuahua for a routine teeth cleaning and to get get her nails cut, she had no issues at alll perfectly healthy. When I picked her up from the vet I noticed that she was limping, she also had a little bit of blood on her paw, I thought she might be limping because she got cut while getting her nails cut or something. A few days went by and she was still limping, she wasn’t using her left back leg at all, only when going outside to pee. I took her back to the vet and they told me she had a patella luxation? I had no idea what that was or what might have caused it. They gave me pain meds for Loki and sent her home. It’s been almost a month now, I took her in for X-rays and they stated that she now has degenerative intervertebral disc disease. Is this something that would cause my dog not to use her leg. I am very confused about this situation and I don’t know if I need to take her to a different vet for a second opinion. Please advise. Thank you

Sept. 17, 2018

Loki's Owner

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yogi

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Chiweenie

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Five Years

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Yelp

My 5 year old dog - chiweenie had back pain suddlenly last year. the vet injeted his steroids and prescribed prednisone and gabapentin(she said it could be a disc hernia) he got better and was great for 4 months until the same thing happened again. he got another injection and meds and recover fully but 6 months later (July2018) he showed same symptoms and this time we took him for an full spine MRI. his diagnostics is a "large mieline to left sided chronic disc herniation at L3-L4". The neurologist sugested surgery impling that the hernia can rupture at anytime. my dog has been resting a lot and shows pain only during the morning and the rest of the day he behaves 100% healthy and walks around fine. some days he keeps his head down as he walks and ramdonly he will cry/scream. He is still taking prednisone and gabapentin.he seems much better but i am afraid the disc will rupture and also i am afraid of the risc of the surgery and the possibility of adhesions developing, losing his movement. i want to make sure he will be fine if he gets surgery. i am taking him to another neurologist for a second opinion . but i need more advice

Aug. 10, 2018

yogi's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If a board certified neurologist thinks that Yogi needs surgery, and he is still that painful, that is probably a good idea. A second opinion is never a bad idea, and they can give you an idea as to expected outcome and need for surgery. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 10, 2018

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Chapu

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Podd

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7 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weak Back Legs

Intervenal dis disease within the TL spine dis herniation causing the signs would be suspect but aditional imagin such as a myblogran ct. my dog already had de xray and this the resul and vet conclusion are this the TL spine aligned there is significant disc space narrowing identified at the level of T12-13 no endplate lysis is seen. At this time he is feeling his legs. My question us he will be walk just with recovery as a vet said

July 28, 2018

Chapu's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Chapu and seeing the CT and x-ray I cannot say for certain whether Chapu will recover or not; mild cases may recover well with rest and medical management but more severe cases may require surgical intervention. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Hooch

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Boxer

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9 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Ataxia
Knuckling

A year ago my dog was injured from a fall; neighbor said he fell on his back several times trying to jump the fence. He had some weakness in his rear legs, not too bad at first but then gradually worsened. We have tried several different medications; Prednisone seemed to help the most for a while but is no longer working. For the last three months he has been getting acupuncture weekly with laser therapy a few times showing no improvements, if anything he has only gotten progressively worse. He does have use of his rear legs but they are extremely weak and really has no control over them. When he walks his paws knuckle over and he falls a lot and his body goes sideways, he has even started to just drag his legs behind him at times. He did have a CT scan on the entire spine and the findings were: •Possible extruded non-mineralized disc material at L7-S1, punctate areas of very faint mineralization is also seen in this region •Mild dorsal wedging of the lumbosacral disc space •Spondylosis at several sites in spine, most severe at L6-7 and L7-S1 •Equivocal evidence of a small amount of non-mineralized extruded disc material at L6-7 •Cervical spine and all of the intervertebral disc spaces in this region appear normal •Incidental finding of very faint ossifying pachymeningitis •The vertebral bodies and end plates are normal Conclusion: Suspect extruded non-mineralized disc material at L7-S1. There is also possible extruded non-mineralized disc material at L6-L7. I am considering surgery at this point, I would like to do some research but I am not clear on what his actual condition is (is it IVDD?) and what type of surgery he needs. I have been told that a myelogram or an MRI will need to be done for the surgery, is one more beneficial than the other? Would a neurologist have to perform the surgery or could a board certified surgeon perform the surgery in this case? Either way, I will have to travel to have the surgery done as there is no one local, do you have any advice on the best way to select a surgeon? I appreciate your time.

July 20, 2018

Hooch's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It certainly sounds like intervertebral disk disease, the surgery may be performed by a board certified Surgeon or a Neurologist however you should discuss this with potential specialists; you may use the links below to search for a specialist by zip code. As for myelogram or MRI, a myelogram would be cheaper but you should again discuss this with the Specialist. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://find.vetspecialists.com/ https://online.acvs.org/acvsssa/rflssareferral.query_page?P_VENDOR_TY=VETS

July 21, 2018

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Bella

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Beagle

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3 Years

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Yelping When Getti
Yelping When Rising

My 3 year old beagle was completely fine until about 1 week ago. Out of nowhere she started yelping in pain when getting up. She walks with no problem, no issues eating and seems completely fine other than getting up or down. I have taken her to the vet and her diagnosis is IVDD. She is currently on an anti-inflammatory and pain medication to help her. I was wondering if this disease is treatable and she can live a long, healthy life or if this is something that will affect her from now on.

May 18, 2018

Bella's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Intervertebral disc disease is a progressive condition which may be managed medically in many cases along with rest, weight loss and change in active behaviour; more severe cases may require surgical intervention but each case is different. You should continue on the current course of treatment and monitor for improvement, follow up with your Veterinarian if there are no signs of improvement after a week or two. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.veterinarypracticenews.com/non-surgical-options-for-ivdd-keeping-hope-and-dogs-alive/

May 19, 2018

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Pumpkin

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Cairn Terrier

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13 Years

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

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Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Pain

Pumpkin has always been actively, sleeps a little more these days, but still barks and runs to the door when she hears someone/thing. Two weeks ago she cried when we picked her up. Took her to the vet, prescribed her some medication. Not much improvement. Went back several days later and she got xrays, blood draw, etc. Vet said a few discs had less space between them but wasn’t overly concerned. She prescribed Pumpkin Prednisone. This has seemed to help. We also took the cushions from our sofa and put them on the floor so she wasn’t tempted to jump up and laid low on walking and carried her outside. She has improved. Wondering what the future might look like?

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Hachi

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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6 Years

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Serious condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Pain
Limping
Screaming
Panting

My dog hachi was fine until he started screaming in pain and hiding while arching his back. He also lifted one of his front paws. The vet said it could be a pinched nerve or herniated disk and prescribed a pain killer and 3 weeks bed rest. Even with rest he’s in a lot of pain and the screaming just hurts my heart. What can I do to help him? Nothing happened that I think could have triggered this and I don’t know what to do? Should I take him to another vet?

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milo

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Yorkie-poo

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Serious condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Pain

I have a 6 year old, 6lb yorkie-poo that has recently sustained an injury in what we thought was his back. He would shake and scream in pain. We took him to his Vet and he started him on a strong round of prednisone and pain medicine. It seemed to help some, but eventually seemed to quit working. We couldn't put him down, so we were referred to a Veterinary University. They done an MRI on him and he had 2 ruptured disc, around his neck. We decided to move further on and they done surgery to remove the disc and he was on his way to recovery, but a week later started screaming in pain again. It breaks our hearts so bad. We know he can't go on living like this and hes to the point now of not wanting to eat, dink, or use the potty from the pain. Putting him down isn't an option for us, but we don't know what else to do for our little guy. I just want him to be better and back to himself! We took him back to the University and they have hooked him up to a cath and seem to have his pain under control. They suggest another MRI to see if hes blew another disc, but he has been kept confined since hes been home from surgery. Is there anything we can do for our boy!?

Intervertebral Disc Disease Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$9,000

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