IVDD (Intervertebral disc disease) is a common cause of back pain, hind end weakness, paralysis and a host of other neurologic problems in dogs. IVDD is often referred to as a ruptured, herniated or slipped disc, but it is actually a disease of the spinal cord that causes the discs to prematurely lose moisture, harden and degenerate. Healthy discs act as cushions between the bones of each vertebra, but in dogs with IVDD these discs compress and become painful. If you have one of the 10 breeds prone to IVDD, it is important to learn the warning signs of this condition.
There are two forms of IVDD: Hansen Type I and Hansen Type II. Hansen Type I is the most common form of the disease and its victims are generally young or middle-aged (3-6 years old) chondrodystrophoid breeds. These are dogs that have short, stubby legs and long backs. These breeds have a predisposition to develop IVDD in part because of their genetic makeup and in part because their bodies are top-heavy and carry a disproportionate amount of weight on a small frame.
Here Are the 10 Dog Breeds Prone to IVDD (Type I)
Other Breeds Prone to IVDD
- Cocker spaniels
- Lhasa Apsos
Hansen Type II Disc Disease
The victims of Type II disc disease are generally mature and senior large breed dogs such as German shepherds. IVDD in these dogs develops at a slower pace as the discs become too soft to maintain their cushion protection on the spine. Eventually pressure on the spinal cord develops which can lead to hind end weakness and paralysis.
Common Signs of IVDD
- Neck pain and the hesitancy to move
- Lowered head
- Back pain
- Cries when touched
- Arched or hunched back
- Pain when moving
- Dragging a leg
- Knuckling a paw
- Difficulty getting up from the floor
- Trembling or shaking
- Lack of coordination
- Paralysis in one or more legs
If you notice any of these signs get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. While pet owners cannot prevent IVDD from developing, they can keep problems to a minimum by having their dog maintain a healthy weight through nutrition and moderate exercise. And if your dog is diagnosed with IVDD take heart that there are treatments and support equipment available to let your dog have a long and happy life.
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