No matter what breed you have, it is important to know about something called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). IVDD is a medical condition in dogs that can cause problems with your dog’s back. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms and causes of IVDD in dogs, as well as how it can be treated. We will also talk about some things you can do to prevent this problem from happening.
What is IVDD?
IVDD, or intervertebral disc disease, is a painful condition that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. It’s important to be aware of this condition in your dog because it can lead to the spinal cord being compressed and cause paralysis if not managed properly.
The intervertebral discs are the spongy pads between each vertebra in the spine that help cushion them as they move around during various activities like walking, running and jumping. These discs have a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosis which holds them together while allowing some flexibility so they don’t crack when supporting weight on top of them. Within each disc are two types of gel-like substances: nucleus pulposus (NP) and cartilage endplates (CEP).
What causes IVDD in dogs?
It has been a long-held belief that intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is caused by trauma to the spinal cord. However, recent studies have shown that this isn’t always the case. In fact, most cases of IVDD aren’t related to trauma at all but are due to degeneration or congenital defects in the spine.
This means that you don’t have to worry about your dog getting injured while playing with other dogs or running around outside in order for them to develop IVDD—it can happen out of nowhere!
In addition, because there are two types of herniation (extruded and sequestered), it’s important for you as a pet owner to be able to identify each so that you can get your pup proper treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis is made.
Many factors can cause intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).
There are a variety of factors that can cause intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). These factors include:
- Genetics. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to suffer from IVDD than others. For example, German shepherds, rottweilers and Labrador retrievers have a higher incidence of this condition than other breeds.
- Age. Older dogs have an increased risk for IVDD because their bodies age faster than those of younger animals; they aren’t as active and don’t heal as quickly after injury or surgery.
- Overweight status. Being overweight puts pressure on the spinal column and discs’ ability to absorb force evenly when your dog moves around or jumps up onto things like furniture or beds where there may not be enough room for him/her to safely land if he’s too heavy for the surface he’s jumping onto (like when trying to get up into bed without assistance).
Intervertebral discs are soft, jelly-like cushions between the bones (vertebrae) that make up your dog’s spine.
Intervertebral discs are soft, jelly-like cushions between the bones (vertebrae) that make up your dog’s spine. Most dogs have 24 vertebrae, which are separated by discs. These discs have a tough outer layer that surrounds a soft, jellylike inner layer.
The vertebrae in the back of most dogs are connected to each other by discs made up of a tough outer layer that surrounds a soft, jellylike inner layer.
Your dog’s vertebrae are connected to each other by discs made up of a tough outer layer that surrounds a soft, jellylike inner layer. The discs allow for normal motion between the vertebrae while protecting the spinal cord and nerves. Discs can tear or rupture when they’re injured, causing pain and other symptoms in your pet.
These discs allow a normal amount of motion between the vertebrae while protecting the spinal cord and nerves.
Discs are made up of two layers:
- A tough outer layer that is made up of a cartilaginous material called fibrocartilage
- A soft inner layer that consists of a gel-like material called nucleus pulposus, which has no blood supply and no nerves. The nucleus pulposus acts as a shock absorber for the spine and spinal cord, allowing them to move with ease while protecting them from any damage that could occur during movement.
Sometimes, the tough outer layer of a disc can tear or rupture.
You may have heard of disc disease in dogs, but you might not really understand what it means. Discs are small cushions of cartilage that sit between each vertebrae in your dog’s spine. The tough outer layer of a disc can tear or rupture, allowing the soft inner layer to leak out and press against the spinal cord and cause pain and loss of function.
This allows the soft inner layer of the disc to leak out through the tear in the outer layer and press against or “herniate” into the spinal cord.
When the inner layer of a disc ruptures, it can press against or “herniate” into the spinal cord. This is called a syrinx, and it’s a big deal: It’s what doctors worry about with disc disease.
When you’re walking around, your spine is essentially bending back and forth like one long spring. When you bend forward, your upper vertebrae compress down onto your lower ones so that you can get around without crumpling under your own weight (you know: gravity).
When you bend backward and the spring-like motion happens in reverse—the lower vertebrae pressing up on top—it causes all kinds of problems over time if they’re not moving correctly. If too much pressure builds up in one place during flexion (“bending forward”), then the soft inner layer of the discs will tear through their outer layers, which contain cartilage (which helps them “slide” back and forth). The torn inner layer will then leak out through this tear in its outer layer and press against or “herniate” into the spinal cord itself (chilling!).
Certain dog breeds have a genetic predisposition for IVDD and develop it at an early age.
Certain dog breeds have a genetic predisposition for IVDD and develop it at an early age. These dogs include:
- Great Danes
- Irish Wolfhounds
- St. Bernards
- Standard Poodles
The onset of IVDD typically occurs between the ages of 7 to 9 years. The breed with the lowest risk for developing IVDD is the Labrador Retriever, which has a lifespan of 12-14 years, on average. The median age for onset in this breed is 10-12 years old.
What are the symptoms of IVDD in dogs?
Symptoms of IVDD in dogs vary, depending on the location of the disc herniation. If it occurs in the neck area, your dog could experience pain and neurological problems that affect his or her ability to walk and/or bark.
If a lumbar disc herniation is present, you may notice that your dog’s stride becomes shorter than normal. He or she may also be reluctant to climb stairs or jump onto a bed because he or she will feel pain when landing from these movements.
In other breeds and mixed breeds, IVDD occurs later in life as discs “wear out” with aging.
The onset of IVDD varies from breed to breed and mixed breed. In general, it’s thought that dogs 6 years old or older are at higher risk for developing IVDD than puppies. This is because discs in the spine tend to wear out with age, which increases the likelihood of them rupturing suddenly when they degenerate even more quickly.
The early signs of disc disease include:
- Stiffness after activity or exercise (e.g., when you come home from a walk)
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Incontinence (urinating without control)
It is important to know what kinds of tasks could put your dog at risk for this problem.
Knowing what kinds of activities could put your dog at risk for disc disease is an important first step in preventing it. The most common cause of IVDD is trauma to the spine, and the most common cause of trauma is falling. Jumping off of furniture is the most common cause of falling, and this can be a result of something as simple as your pup trying to escape an uncomfortable situation or as complicated as becoming spooked by something like fireworks or thunderstorms.
Some dogs develop intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) at a young age, while others are not affected until they get older. IVDD is more common in certain breeds, but it can occur in any breed of dog.