Large breeds and IVDD
Dr. Andrew Isaacs
DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Dogwood Veterinary Referral Center
Primary interests include intervertebral disc disease, seizure management, luxations/fractures of the spine, and surgery for brain tumors
When you see a larger breed with a disc problem is it usually IVDD (actually calcified discs) or an injury? How often do you estimate a larger breed such as a lab, dalmation, golden etc. actually has calcified discs?
Most of the time in larger breed dogs disk problems are secondary to a degenerative disk and not a true injury (hit by a car, falling out of moving vehicle, etc.). There are exceptions, but in general most of the time a degenerative disk is to blame. The degree of degeneration varies and is sometimes difficult to assess fully with radiographs (x-rays). Now that more MRI’s are being performed we can appreciate different signs of degeneration (loss of hydration and soft tissue changes) that are not visible on radiographs. There are cases in larger breed dogs where a disk ruptures and the herniated disk material has not degenerated to the point where it causes residual spinal cord compression. Unfortunately, the only way to know if there is spinal cord compression (and surgery is required) is with advanced imaging (MRI/CT/myelogram).