Disc Herniation in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
In our focus we are going to analyze the herniated disc in dogs, its symptoms and how to treat it.
You have surely already surely heard of slipped disc at least once in a lifetime. It is a muscle disease that is certainly not rare in humans, but it also affects our four-legged friends. In this focus we will in fact investigate the characteristics, similarities and differences between the herniated disc in humans and Herniated disc in dogs.
In both cases, we are talking about a degenerative disease that affects the invertebral discs. In a nutshell, you have to start from the assumption that between one vertebra and the other there are these “pulpy” discs that act as a bit of shock absorbers.
Let’s analyze its structure and composition better: it is a mass of pulp that forms a nucleus. This core has a gelatinous consistency, which over the years and the aging of the dog becomes more and more rigid.
How can a herniated disc come about? Basically, through physical exertion of some kind. A jump or a push-up, for example. This excessive effort generates a trauma: this is the beginning of the herniated disc. At this point it is good to distinguish and divide this pathology into two different categories: Hansen 1 herniated disc and Hansen 2 herniated disc.
The first is also called acute disc herniation and mainly affects young canine specimens (3 to 6 years old) striking suddenly. The second is also defined as chronic disc herniation and usually occurs in older subjects. The types of dogs involved in both cases are also different.
The acute affects mainly so-called “chondrodystrophic” breeds such as the dachshund, the poodle or the yorkshire; the chronic, on the other hand, is frequent in “non-chondrodystrophic” breeds such as the German Shepherd and the Labrador.
Disc Herniation in Dogs: Symptoms
But what exactly causes a herniated disc? In short, what are the most common symptoms? Obviously pain and uncoordination, generic and general. A progressive dysfunction of the movement of the hind legs. But also real neurological damage (which can lead to slight lameness or even total paralysis).
First of all, let’s say that the dog will begin to change posture and gait, almost always arching his back in the area most at risk. In addition, as the disease progresses, the dog will lose sensitivity and have problems urinating or defecating. It goes without saying that the dog will gradually lose elasticity and muscle tone, becoming increasingly weak and sluggish. And losing weight!
Disc herniation in dogs: treatment
Sometimes a rest period is enough, maybe a couple of weeks. Other times the situation degenerates or in any case does not improve, therefore it is absolutely necessary to contact your trusted veterinarian and not to take the matter lightly.
Especially when the motor skills of the animal are conspicuously affected, surgery is often the most suitable solution, obviously preceded by magnetic resonance or in any case by examinations recommended by the doctor. A period of rehabilitation and physiotherapy will obviously be strictly necessary.
Things to avoid during the course of the disease are: slippery floors that can make the motion of our four-legged friend even more complicated, routes with climbs and descents that are difficult to sustain.
Instead, help him to: maintain a correct posture even during sleep with an adequate “mat”, in case of obvious motor difficulties change the dog’s position to avoid the formation of ulcers and injuries (in this sense it can be useful – especially for travel – equip yourself with a special harness, do not let the animal gain weight (perhaps spoiling it too much at the table to “cheer it up”).