top of page

Health Tips

What is IVDD?
Inter-Vertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a condition in which a disc develops a problem and the material inside escapes into the spinal column, ultimately causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis. The condition is seen more often in dogs than cats.

What are the symptoms of Inter-Vertebral Disk Disease?

Symptoms of IVDD may include:

  • Unwillingness to jump.

  • Pain and weakness in rear legs (lameness)

  • Crying out in pain.

  • Anxious behavior.

  • Muscle spasms over back or neck.

  • Hunched back or neck with tense muscles.

  • Reduced appetite and activity levels.

  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control (urinary and fecal incontinence)



What is degenerative disease of the spine?

Degenerative spine conditions involve the gradual loss of normal structure and function of the spine over time. They are usually caused by aging, but may also be the result of tumors, infections or arthritis. Pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots caused by degeneration can be caused by: Slipped or herniated discs.



Preventing IVDD

Obviously, one important way to prevent traumatic damage to a dog’s spinal cord is to manage its athletic enthusiasm. Regular, moderate exercise is good for healthy dogs, and usually for their owners, as well. Uncontrolled leaping and jumping - especially off of high places like decks, tall furniture, ledges, boulders, pick-up truck beds and similar – is not, especially for dogs with degenerative disk disease. Owners of chondrodystrophic breeds (Dachshund, Bulldog, Corgi, Pug, French Bulldog, Bassett Hound, Pekinese, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Beagle, and Poodle) should take special care not to let their dogs jump from high places. Their large bodies and comparatively short legs are especially prone to musculoskeletal and spinal injuries. Obesity should be avoided in any dog. Signs of back or neck pain should be taken very seriously. Owners who suspect a spinal cord injury might want to consult with a veterinarian and perhaps with a veterinary neurologist or orthopedic specialist.

Treatment of Inter-Vertebral Disk Disease

Treatment depends on the severity of the injury or illness, but can be separated into surgical and non-surgical options.  For dogs with a first episode of back pain or mild pelvic limb ataxia, a conservative approach of cage rest and medications may be recommended.  Dogs with more severe signs (grades 2-5) or recurrent or persistent back pain that does not respond to rest and medications are best managed with surgery to decompress the spinal cord.  After examination and an MRI, the size, site and side of the disk herniation can be located.  A removal of one side of the side of the vertebrae can be performed to allow the neurosurgeon to remove the herniated disk material and decompress the spinal cord. This procedure may not always be successful.

Featured Topic

Regular Exams are Vital

Just like you, your pet can get heart problems, develop arthritis, or have a toothache. The best way to prevent such problems or catch them early is to see your veterinarian every year.

Regular exams are "the single most important way to keep pets healthy," says Kara M. Burns, MS, Med, LVT, president of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians. Annual vet visits should touch on nutrition and weight control, says Oregon veterinarian Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, as well as cover recommended vaccinations, parasite control, dental exam, and health screenings. 


Crazy Cats!

Although Cats are known for sleeping long hours, but when they’re not snoozing, they can be very active. Those periods of activity often happen during the night. If your cat attempts to wake you after you’ve gone to bed, he may want to play, eat or simply enjoy your company. Young cats under one year of age in particular can drive their owners crazy from sleep deprivation!

Understand that the cat’s ancestor, the African wildcat, is mostly nocturnal. Domestication has shifted our pet cats’ activity patterns to be more diurnal (awake during the day), but most cats still tend to wake at least twice during the night. The good news is that cats can learn to let their owners sleep in peace. If your cat restlessly wanders around your house at night meowing or crying, he may be suffering from an underlying medical problem that causes pain or discomfort. If you think this may be the case, take your cat to the vet to rule out medical issues-especially if you notice that he meows excessively during the day as well as at night.


bottom of page