Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a prevalent and potentially debilitating condition that affects the spinal discs of dogs. IVDD occurs when the intervertebral discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, degenerate or become herniated. This condition can cause pain, mobility issues, and, in severe cases, paralysis. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, risk factors, and preventative measures associated with IVDD in dogs
To grasp the implications of IVDD, it is crucial to comprehend the structure and function of intervertebral discs. These discs have a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a soft, gelatinous center known as the nucleus pulposus. IVDD can manifest in two primary forms:
a. Hansen Type I: This acute form is characterized by a sudden rupture or protrusion of the disc material into the spinal canal, leading to compression of the spinal cord.
b. Hansen Type II: This chronic form involves gradual degeneration of the disc, leading to herniation or bulging over time.
There are several factors that increase the risk of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in dogs. These factors are as follows:
Breed Predisposition: Certain dog breeds have a higher susceptibility to IVDD due to genetic factors. Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Beagles, and Pekingese are among the breeds that are at an increased risk, according to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Kealy et al., 2012).
Age and Weight: Older dogs and overweight or obese individuals are more likely to develop IVDD. This suggests that age and weight are significant risk factors.
Conformational Factors: Dogs with certain physical attributes, such as long backs and short legs, are more likely to get IVDD. Breeds like Basset Hounds and French Bulldogs are examples of this conformational predisposition.
Trauma and Activity Level: Traumatic incidents like falls or excessive jumping increase the risk of disc damage. Additionally, high-impact activities that strain the spine, like repetitive jumping or twisting, can worsen the condition.
Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a common condition that can affect a dog's quality of life. While not all cases of IVDD can be prevented, there are measures that pet owners can take to reduce the risk or severity of this condition. These include:
Weight management: Keeping a healthy weight through proper nutrition and regular exercise can help reduce stress on the intervertebral discs.
Controlled exercise: Encouraging controlled exercise and avoiding high-impact activities can help minimize the strain on the spine. Regular walks, swimming, and low-impact play are beneficial for dogs at risk of IVDD.
Environmental modifications: Providing supportive bedding, avoiding high surfaces, and using ramps or stairs can reduce the risk of falls or jumping-related injuries.
Regular veterinary check-ups: Routine examinations allow veterinarians to monitor the dog's spinal health and detect early signs of IVDD, enabling prompt intervention.
As always, if you are reading this blog post as a pet owner, always consult with a veterinarian or physiotherapist for tailored advice based on your dog's individual needs and breed predisposition. By understanding the risk factors associated with IVDD and implementing preventive strategies, we can help safeguard the spinal health and overall well-being of our doggos.
Kealy, R. D., Lawler, D. F., Ballam, J. M., Mantz, S. L., Biery, D. N., Greeley, E. H., Lust, G., Segre, M., Smith, G. K., & Stowe, H. D. (2012). Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 220(9), 1315–1320.
Courcier, E. A., Thomson, R. M., Mellor, D. J., & Yam, P. S. (2010). An epidemiological study of environmental factors associated with canine obesity. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 51(7), 362–367.