IVDD: Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

IVDD is a common cause of lameness in dogs.

IVDD stands for intervertebral disc disease. It is also known as herniated disc(s) or ruptured disc(s). A dog's backbone is made up of individual bones, or vertebrae, that form a tube, within which the spinal cord is protected. Discs are the joints that connect the vertebrae to one another. They are soft in the center and have a tougher outer layer. The spine helps bear the weight of the animal and also needs to move in many different ways. The job of the discs is to work as shock absorbers for the vertebrae.

A normal canine spine has discs for shock absorption.

In IVDD, the material on the inside of the disc, the nucleus pulposus, degenerates over time. The disc material may escape upwards from the more fibrous outer case, the annulus fibrosis, toward the spinal cord. This material can then push either on the nerve roots that exit the spinal column and connect to the rest of the body or on the spinal cord itself. This causes pain, nerve damage, and paralysis to the area that is enervated by the affected part of the spine.

A dog with IVDD may have prolapsed disc material.

IVDD can occur anywhere along the vertebral column, from the neck to the lower back.

Presentation and Signs of IVDD in Dogs

There are many conditions that can present similarly to IVDD, but the following are all signs that should not be ignored:

If your dog is down and unable to rise, it is an emergency and you should see a veterinarian immediately.

Breeds, Gender, and Age Most Commonly Affected by IVDD in Dogs

There are two types of IVDD in dogs, and they generally affect different breeds:

Diagnosis of IVDD in Dogs

Treatment of IVDD in Dogs

Time is of the essence in the treatment of IVDD in dogs. Dogs that have been down for over 48 hours have a much smaller chance of recovering, even with surgical intervention.

Prevention of IVDD in Dogs

Prognosis for IVDD in Dogs

The prognosis for IVDD in dogs varies depending on the severity of the signs and how quickly treatment is initiated.

Alternative therapies for IVDD in Dogs

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