What is disc disease? -Shortcut Thru IVDD

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What is disc disease?

IVDD is a disease and not an injury. The trauma to the spinal cord results from hardening of the discs due to the disease.

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IVDD is a disease and not an injury

IVDD causes discs to age earlier in life. Discs loose moisture and harden. The discs can no longer cushion the vertebrae along the spine. IVDD occurs in breeds such as dachshunds, poodles, corgis, beagles, but it is not limited to just those breeds.

If a dog has IVDD, a disc problem can happen at any age. When the disc has weakened to a certain degree, it will herniate. You may or may not be able to pinpoint a specific incident as causing the start of symptoms. Many dogs that have IVDD have their first episode typically between the ages of 3-7.

Disc disease may be an ongoing, progressive disease for the rest of the dog’s life. Some dogs have only one episode others have multiple episodes over their life time.

Prevention and being educated to catch symptoms early is important.

No stairs, no jumping up and down, use ramps, always attach a leash to a harness.

As vertebrae in the spine move they can increase pressure on a weakened disc causing a tear in the tough outer ring. Degnerated discs can bulge into spinal cord area, or they can rupture, aka slip, prolapse, herniate, as shown in above illustration. Bulges can cause mild symptoms of pain or wobbly walking. More severe disc damage causes paralysis of legs and loss of bladder control.

Illustration reprinted with permission by the copyright owner, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, from the Atlas of Veterinary Clinical Anatomy


Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) in dogs can be described as a slipped disk, ruptured disk, herniated disk, or bulging disk. This condition mostly affects Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and Beagles. Whether your pet suffers from trauma to the spine or has abnormalities due to their breed, the gel-like center of the intervertebral disk may turn dry and brittle, rupture through the fibrous outer layer, and push on the spinal cord. This may cause severe pain, limited mobility, or even paralysis.”  Southeast Veterinary Neurology

Disclaimer:

This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the dog IVDD community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.

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