"Herniated Vertebral Disc" with University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Champaign, Ill (WCIA) - Like people, dogs can suffer from a "herniated vertebral disc."

Dr. Kari Foss, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital who is a board certified neurologist, shares information about disc disease and the importance of bringing in your pet to their vet right away if they are having problems walking. 

The “disc” is a structure found between each pair of vertebrae in the spine. The job of the disc is to act as a shock-absorber.

If the disc hardens, it can get pushed into the spinal cord and cause clinical signs ranging from pain to complete loss of feeling and function of the limb.  
The clinical signs stemming from the disc herniation depend upon the location of the injury; a disc injury in the lower back can cause problems only in the hind limbs, whereas an injury in the neck can cause dysfunction in all limbs. With spinal injuries, the chance for recovery is greatly influenced by seeking prompt medical attention.

There are two types of disc herniation:   

  • Dog breeds with long bodies and short legs (such as Basset hounds, dachshunds, and Pekingese) are prone to disc extrusion.
  • Large breed dogs (such as Labradors, German shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers) are more prone to disc protrusion. 

 

In the first stage of a disc problem, your dog may display a "drunken" walk. If the problem worsens, the animal will lose its ability to move its legs. In the last stage of paralysis an animal loses its ability to feel its legs. Paralysis can be progressive, going from bad to worse, so an animal displaying any of these signs should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. The treatment for mild disc injuries with no loss of strength or voluntary movement may be rest and limited activity. For animals with a more severe problem, diagnostic imaging to confirm the cause and location of problem and surgery will likely be recommended. Rehabilitation (known as physical therapy in human medicine) can be an essential part of spinal injury treatment.

 

 Owners of dogs that are predisposed to disc disease can minimize risk of disc injuries by:

·         Keeping their dog at an appropriate weight
·         Providing daily moderate exercise
·         Using a chest harness instead of attaching leashes to buckle collars
·         Training small dogs not to jump off furniture
 

More Stories

Don't Miss

  • Don't Miss WCIA 3 Toy Drive 2017
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Let It Snow Contest
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Home for the Holidays 2017
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • WCIA 3's From The Vault
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest News

Video Center