Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Dogs

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) can cause some dogs to lose control over their legs—and even the ability to walk. If you’re vigilant about spotting the signs of IVDD in your dog, you can get them treated early on and avoid permanent damage that may result in paralysis. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about IVDD and how it affects dogs: what causes it, who’s at risk, how vets diagnose and treat it, and more.

What is IVDD?

IVDD is a condition that affects the spine. It is also known as intervertebral disc disease, and it is a common problem in dogs. IVDD occurs when the inner core of one or more vertebrae becomes damaged, which can result in inflammation, swelling and pain. The disease usually causes no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage, so it’s important to keep your dog’s back healthy so they are not at risk for developing IVDD later on.

How Common Is It and Who Gets It?

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common condition in dogs, especially large and giant breeds.

It’s more common in older dogs, but can occur at any age. It is also more common in female dogs than male dogs.

A family history of IVDD does increase the risk for this condition to develop, so it’s important to be aware of that when you’re planning your dog’s future with you!

What Are the Symptoms of IVDD in Dogs?

  • Spinal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to move, walk, or urinate (urinary retention)
  • Inability to defecate (rectal impaction) and/or pass gas (flatulence) as a result of constipation or fecal incontinence. This can lead to colitis.
  • Difficulty jumping up on furniture and other high surfaces that require jumping ability.

The most common symptoms are: pain, loss of appetite and lack of energy. If your dog has been diagnosed with IVDD it is important that you understand these symptoms so that you can identify the problems early on before they become unmanageable for everyone involved…including yourself!

How Do Vets Diagnose it?

To diagnose IVDD, your vet will want to identify the disc causing the problem. The first step is X-rays. If an intervertebral disc has herniated, it can be seen on X-ray as a break in the vertebrae and as fluid around it. However, an MRI scan is more accurate at diagnosing IVDD because it can show if there’s damage to the spinal cord or nerve roots (which results from pressure on them). Your vet may also perform a myelogram or CT scan to rule out other causes of back pain before making a diagnosis of IVDD.

Once your vet knows what’s causing your dog’s symptoms, he or she needs to identify their severity. In mild cases of IVDD (also known as less severe), dogs might have some muscle atrophy but have little trouble standing up or walking around; they’ll probably still be able to eat normally and play with toys. In severe cases (also known as more severe), dogs usually experience complete paralysis below where their spine was injured; this means that they’re unable to stand up at all without help from their owners!

It may be difficult for vets at first because there are many different types of intervertebral discs that could potentially cause problems within our pets’ bodies.

How Do They Treat It?

Because IVDD is a progressive disease, it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you start treatment, the better your dog’s chances of full recovery.

There are several different options for treating IVDD in dogs, depending on the severity of their symptoms and the type of disc herniation they have.

Most dogs will require surgery to correct the problem, but there are some things you can do at home to help your dog recover after surgery or if surgery isn’t an option for them (see below).

You should know how to spot the signs of IVDD in your dog

IVDD is a painful condition that can affect your dog’s mobility, causing them to have trouble getting up and down. In some cases, they may not be able to move at all.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog:

  • Your dog has trouble getting up and down
  • Your dog cries out when moving around
  • The lower back area becomes swollen and/or tender when touched
  • Your dog shows signs of discomfort or pain when walking, running or jumping


IVDD is a difficult condition for dogs to deal with, with many of them requiring surgery and medication in order to recover. However, if you know the signs of IVDD before it becomes a serious issue, you can prevent your pet from having to deal with this disease in the first place. We hope this article has helped educate you on what this condition is, as well as how common it is and what symptoms you should look out for.