Intervertebral Disk Disease

Intervertebral Disk Disease

Your pet’s spine is made up of a column of small, fitted bones called vertebrae, and between each small bone are flexible, rubbery structures called intervertebral disks.  These disks provide cushioning between the bones, allowing the spinal column to bend and flex when your pet runs and jumps.  These invertebrate disks can deteriorate, which will lead to hardening and in some cases calcification when the disk herniates, some of the gel-like material will push into the spinal canal affecting the spinal cord.  It can also collapse blood vessels.  This will cause severe pain as well as paralysis.

What are the signs of disk disease?
Disk disease is very common in dogs and uncommon in cats.  Some signs are very sudden and some could take days or weeks.  Here are a few signs to look for:

Reluctance to move or get up.
Yelping while being petted or moved.
Back pain.
Weakness of the hind end.
Loss of bladder or bowel control.

 If you notice one or more of these signs, please contact our office immediately so that we can get your pet seen by one of our doctors.

How is Disk Disease treated?
Treatment often depends on the severity of your pet’s condition.  Mildly affected patients are usually treated medically in the beginning and then tranquilizers if the pet can not rest on his/her own.
Anti-inflammatory medication along with pain or muscle relaxants medication.
Kennel rest for at least three weeks.


Strict confinement is very important to allow the damaged disk to heal.  Without rest, the medication will only allow your pet to feel better but it will not heal the disk.  Patients that cannot walk become surgery candidates, which consist of the removal of the disk. 

Preventing Disk Disease
Some breeds are more susceptible to disk disease than others, for example:
Basset Hound
Shih Tzu
Lhasa Apso
Cocker Spaniel

Short legged pets are most commonly affected.  Avoiding obesity, a good diet, and reducing trauma to your pet’s spine are important. 

If you notice any problems like the ones listed or have any questions regarding Disk Disease in your pet, please contact our office at 505-869-2627 and we will be glad to help you.