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dog hip dysplasia
Frederick Maxwell Jolivet

Dog Disc Disease

- When the intervertebral disks become damaged, this is referred to as intervertebral dog disc disease ("disk disease", "slipped disk"," disc dog herniated"). As disks age, they lose water content and become less able to withstand compression. They become less able to withstand forces placed upon them. If too much force is placed on them, they can be squeezed and expand or rupture. This rupture usually occurs in an upward direction, and the disk extrudes into the spinal canal where the spinal cord is.

Signs develop either because of the force of the disk material hitting the cord, or due to the disk material compressing the spinal cord. Intervertebral disk disease can occur in any area of the spinal cord. It is most prevalent between the ages of three and six years. Dogs less than 1 year of age rarely have intervertebral disk disease. Geriatric dogs are occasionally affected. Clinical signs of disk disease are rare in cats.

Clinical signs depend on how much, how fast, and with what velocity the disk material has compressed the spinal cord. A mild rupture may cause back pain, while a more moderate rupture causes a wobbly gait and weakness to the hind legs.

If a large amount of disk material ruptures, or if it ruptures very quickly and enters the spinal canal with high velocity, it will cause severe compression and swelling of the spinal cord. This can lead to immediate paralysis. Surgery will become necessary to decompress the spinal cord and to any internal bleeding the spinal canal. Surgery must be performed within 48 to 72 hours because the spinal cord begins to die if it has been damaged by the ruptured disk material.

If the disk hasn't ruptured, the dog should be confined to a crate and is usually given a steroid like prednisone. Many dog owners immediately start giving the pet vitamin supplements glucosamine, chondroitin, ester-C, and MSM, or a formulated and tested product, like Free & Easy for Dogs.

The Able Dogs Support Group for disabled Dachshunds is one such group whose members routinely use vitamin supplementation to assist their dogs recovery. These supplements work synergistically and were instrumental in Frederick's healing process.