Dog Back Problems: Intervertebral Disk Disease
Dog back problems are not uncommon. In particular, one common dog health problem is a disease called Intervertebral Disk Disease. It is often seen in small dog breeds such as dachshunds, pekingese, beagles, corgi, shihtzu, and other similar breeds which tend to have shorter legs and longer bodies. However, it should be noted that this disease may occur in any type of dog, not just small breeds.
Intervertebral Disk Disease is a very serious condition and can result in intense pain and possibly even paralysis. It's important that you immediately take your dog to a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment if you suspect your dog may be suffering from this condition.
A dog's spine consists of vertebrae, which are connected together by cartilage discs. These discs may become weak, whether due to age or otherwise, and can rupture or herniate. This can cause the disc to protrude slightly, a painful condition for the dog. Some of the symptoms your dog may show include:
- Unwillingness to turn his head, or holding his head at an odd position;
- Crying out in pain when your pat him on the head;
- Shivering in pain;
- Moving very slowly or carefully;
- Difficulty urinating or defecating;
- Partial or complete paralysis of the back legs.
Treatment, depending on the severity of the condition, can include anti-inflammatory medications, an extended period of crate rest, or surgery. Alternative or complementary therapies such as acupuncture and physiotherapy or rehab therapy may also be beneficial, but talk to your vet first before pursuing them.
Our own experience with Intervertebral Disk Disease was a scary one. One day we came home to find our 8-year-old Pekingese, a very active little guy, in the living room wagging his tail but not moving. This is unlike him as he always comes running up to greet us. Puzzled, I called him and although he continued to wag, he wouldn't move. Soon it became apparent that he couldn't move - his back legs were apparently paralyzed.
We were fortunate that the paralysis was temporary. By the time we had rushed him to the vet, he was walking again and seemed nearly back to normal. The vet prescribed several weeks of crate rest, no stairs, no jumping, and mild/limited exercise. Our boy was lucky as he recovered fully (he had two other incidents during his life time, but they were both much milder than the first, thank goodness).
Back problems are one type of fairly common health problems in dogs. If you notice any signs of back problems in your dog, please see your vet immediately. Proper diagnosis is necessary before starting treatment - what may initially appear to be a back problem may actually be a problem elsewhere in the body! Regardless, prompt action can play a huge role in your pet's quality of life.