Issue Description Intervertebral disk disease (IDD) in the dog
is a clinical disorder manifested by pain, ataxia, paresis, motor
paralysis, or sensor motor paralysis. It occurs most often in the
chondrodystrophoid dogs but also affects the nonchondrodystrophoid
breeds. There are two different types of intervertebral disk disease:
type I and type II. The treatment protocol for intervertebral disk
disease varies, and the treatment required depends on the severity of
the disease. While many cases of intervertebral disk disease can be
successfully treated, in extremely severe cases of the disease the
quality of the pet's life can be affected. Other Names Intervertebral Disk Disease
Symptoms Any breed of dog can have a disk herniation,
especially when external trauma is involved. However, because of the
unique metabolic differences of their disks, the chondrodystrophoid
breeds are far more likely to develop significant intervertebral disk
disease in their lifetimes. Analysis of the frequency of occurrence of
disk disease within particular breeds shows that standard and
miniature dachshunds are at the highest risk of all dog breeds
followed by Pekingese. Approximately one in every four dachshunds will
have some degree of disk related problems in their lifetimes. The age
of incidence for chondrodystrophoid breeds is highest between three
and seven years, as opposed to eight to ten years for
nonchondrodystrophoid breeds. No sex predilection has been identified.
Clinical signs seen in dogs with intervertebral disk disease vary
highly depending on which disk herniates, the amount and speed at
which disk material actually protrudes, and which nervous system
structures become involved and to what extent.
Signs may include:
reluctance to move the head up or down
rear leg weakness
pain when picked up
reluctance to move
and/or loss of urine and bowel control.
Diagnosis The diagnosis of disk disease is based on
clinical signs initially. To prove that a disk is pressing on the
spinal cord, a special X-ray study known as a myelogram is often
necessary. To perform a myelogram, first a spinal tap is done. Next, a
dye or contrast agent is injected around the spinal cord to outline
it. This usually shows where the spinal cord is damaged, and helps the
surgeon to know exactly where the surgery should be performed. For
both the myelogram and the spinal tap the animal needs to be very
still, therefore anesthesia is necessary to perform these tests.
Treatment Treatment almost always includes the use of
anti-inflammatory medications such as cortisone (a steroid). These
products help shrink the herniated disc and swollen tissue, and at the
same time relieve any inflammation that may have occurred within the
spinal cord. Pain medication may also be prescribed. Do not use pain
relievers without consulting first with your veterinarian. Today more
than 90% of all ruptured disc cases in this area of the back are
handled with medical therapy alone.
Surgery to either
remove the protruding disc material or cut away a portion of the bone
that surrounds the spinal cord is sometimes necessary. To be
effective, however, surgery must usually be done within the first day
or so following the injury. Whether medical, surgical or a combination
of the two treatments is used, it may be several weeks before the
actual outcome of the case can be determined.
system is used for disk disease in the lower back to help owners
understand chances of recovery:
Grade 1 dogs are painful, but all function is normal.
Grade 2 dogs have mild limb deficits.
Grade 3 dogs have moderate limb deficits.
Grade 4 dogs have lost limb movement (paresis) but have intact
deep limb pain sensation.
Grade 5 dogs have lost deep pain sensation and have total limb