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Canine Disc Disease

Canince disc disease occurs in the vertebral discs of the spine, which help cushion the spinal column. These discs are also found in humans--in fact, we can suffer from disc disease as well. IN dogs, disc disease is fairly common in certain breeds and in older animals. 


For certain dog breeds with long backs, like Dachshunds, Bassest Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, disc disease is especially likely. Older dogs are also prome to the disorder, simply because the discs in the back can wear down as a pet ages. Some cases of disc disease occur as a result of physical trauma, such as a fall, a misplace jump, run-ins with cars or even rough play antics. The disk material can become displaced, pressing painfully on the spinal cord. In any pet, obesity can be a contributing factor to disc disease. This is because the extra weight puts further pressure on the back, exacerbating the condition and causing more pain.


Symptoms of disc disease may vary depending on what disc is affected. If a disc closer to the rear end is affected, dogs may lose motor control of the bakc legs and ptentially even the bowel and bladder. If the disc in questions is located in the upper back or lower neck area, a dog might not be able to hold his head up. In just about all cases of disc disease, a dog will be visibly weakened and lethargic. Most dogs will be reluctant to move or jump and may exhibit obvious signs of pain. Severe cases of disc disease can even lead to paralysis.


Your vet will need to take x-rays of your dog's back to assess the health of the discs and vertebral column. Disc disease can be treated and managed with pain medications, anti-inflammatory medicines and muscle relaxers. A combination of all three may be prescribed. Physical activity will probably need to be restricted or mroe tightly managed. Physical therapy, including water3 therapy, massage and other techniques, can also be benedicial for some dogs. Dogs with more serious disc disease may need to see a specialist for a CT scan, MRI, or surgery. If your pet is overweight, you'll need to start your pet on a diet and exercise plan to reduce pressure on the discs. Your vet will help you choose a specialized diet for your dog and give you recommendations on safe exercise to get your dog's weight under control.