In our objective, we will analyze the herniated disc in the dog, its symptoms and its treatment.
You have probably heard of a herniated disc at least once in your life. It is certainly not a rare muscle disease in humans, but it also affects our four-legged friends. In fact, in this section, we will examine the characteristics, analogies, and differences between the herniated disc in humans and the herniated disc in dogs.
In both cases, we are talking about a degenerative disease that affects the intervertebral discs. In a word, we must start from the hypothesis that between one vertebra and another, there are “pulpy” discs that act a little like dampers.
Let’s better analyze its structure and composition: it is a mass of pulp that forms a nucleus. This core has a gelatinous consistency that, over the years and the aging of the dog, becomes more and more rigid.
How can a herniated disc happen? Basically, through some kind of physical effort. A jump or a turn, for example. This excessive effort generates trauma: it is the beginning of the herniated disc. At this point, it is good to distinguish and divide this pathology into two different categories: Hansen disc herniation 1 and Hansen disc herniation 2.
The first is also called acute herniated disc and affects mainly young canine specimens (aged 3 to 6 years) by striking suddenly. The second is also called chronic disc herniation and usually occurs in older subjects. There are also different types of dogs involved in both cases.
Acute diseases mainly affect so-called “chondrodystrophic” breeds such as Dachshund, Poodle or Yorkshire; the chronic, however, is common in “non-chondrodystrophic” breeds such as the German Shepherd and the Labrador.
Herniated disc in dogs: symptoms
But what exactly causes a herniated disc? What are the most common symptoms? Obviously, pain and lack of coordination, generic and general. Progressive dysfunction of posterior movement. But also real neurological damage (which can lead to mild lameness or even total paralysis).
In the first case, we say that the dog will start 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 its elasticity and muscle tone, becoming weaker and weaker. And lose weight!
Herniated disc in dogs: care
Sometimes a rest period is enough, maybe a few weeks. Other times, the situation escalates or, in any case, does not improve, therefore it is absolutely necessary to contact the trusted veterinarian and not to take the problem lightly.
Especially when the motor abilities of the animal are significantly altered, surgery is often the best solution, obviously preceded by an MRI or anyway by the tests recommended by the doctor. A period of rehabilitation and physiotherapy will obviously be strictly necessary.
Things to avoid during illness are: slippery floors that can further complicate the movement of our four-legged friend, routes with difficult ascents and descents.
Help him / her to: maintain a correct posture even during sleep with a suitable “mattress”, in case of obvious motor difficulties, change the position of the dog to avoid the formation of ulcers and injuries (in this sense, it can to be helpful – especially for moving – get a special harness, do not let the animal gain weight (maybe spoil it too much to the table to “cheer up” it).