Sierra Veterinary Clinic: Pet Blog

Tips on caring for your pets from the Veterinarians and staff of Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton, California.

Intervertebral disc disease in animals

Any dog can develop intervertebral disc disease. In between each back bone there is a soft material that cushions the space between each vertebra, allowing for movement, and preventing the bones from rubbing against each other. As the body ages, the pad of fibrocartilage tissue becomes much harder, making the disc more prone to rupture.

Some dog breeds, especially Dachshunds, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Pekingeses, and Doberman Pinchers are prone to this problem. The discs in the Dachshund age prematurely due to water loss, cellular necrosis, and calcification. As a result, making the material becomes more brittle and prone to breaking apart. When material oozes out of the discs, it can put pressure on the spinal cord causing a wide range of problems from limited activity, stiffness, pain, hunched back, crying out, inability to urinate or defecate, paresis-partial loss of movement, to paralysis-loss of muscle function, full loss of movement. This problem also occurs in felines; but is much less common.

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