Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

February Newsletter

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disk disease, or IVDD, is most commonly thought of in dogs with short legs and long bodies. Dachshunds are well known for this condition, but other dogs including the Shih-Tzu, Pekingese, Bassett Hound, and Silky terriers have been known to be affected. Of course, any dog can be affected, but the conformation of these breeds makes them predisposed.

Signs of IVDD can be varied, and may include weakness in the hindlimbs,difficulty going up or down steps, and in very severe cases, difficulty or inability to urinate, and dragging hindlimbs. IVDD in this type of dog is caused by a weakness in the disk between vertebrae that ruptures with too much pressure and compresses on the spinal cord. The severity of clinical signs depends on the extent of the spinal cord compression.

This can be a very severe and time sensitive problem. Paralysis, inability to urinate, and inability to feel pain in affected limbs is an indication that your pet needs treatment as soon as possible. With the most severe signs, there is a narrow window (about 24 hours) when surgical repair could be corrective, and even within that window, resolution of signs with surgery is about 50%. Once the 24 hours have passed, successful surgical repair becomes very unlikely.

Even mild disease should be addressed quickly, because progression without medical management can occur pretty quickly. If surgery is not an option or not recommended at the time, then medical management is instituted. The perfect medical treatment is controversial, and can include either steroids or non-steroidals, muscle relaxants and possibly laser therapy if available. In mild to moderate cases, THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of any treatment is restricted activity. NO jumping, stairs, or high impact activity.

If you have concerns at all that this could be your pet’s problem, please call your veterinarian at the earliest possible time. It could make all the difference to success of treatment.