Dogs are fantastic pets and companions and when you have one, you want to do everything you can to keep them healthy and in good shape. However, there are some issues that can occur even with the best care. Herniated discs, also known as slipped discs, are one of those issues. Most people know that humans can suffer this issue, but few know that dogs can also suffer the same fate. Learn some of the basic facts about herniated discs in dogs. Then, you can be sure that if you notice signs of this condition in your dog, you get to the vet hospital as soon as possible to get them assessed and treated.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
Herniated discs are a condition in the spine. In between each vertebra (bone) in the spine, there is a cushiony disc that prevents the bones from rubbing together and provides support as well as flexibility to the spine.
When a disc is herniated, it is essentially ruptured (another name for the condition). The soft, liquid-like inner nucleus of that disc is pushed out and exposed. It results in the disc being less effective at its job of cushioning but also can cause that nucleus of the disc to stick out where it doesn't belong, causing further irritation and issues with the spine.
The spine contains the spinal column, a bundle of nerves that run from the brain to the rest of the body. When a disc is herniated, it can interfere with the spinal column, causing blockages, inflammation, and more.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
Sometimes, a herniated disc is caused by trauma. If your dog is struck by a car, suffers a fall, or has some other type of accident that affects their back, they could suffer a herniated disc. Additionally, discs can degenerate over time and with aging. So, if your dog is older, they may be more prone to herniated discs than they were when they were younger.
What Are the Signs of a Herniated Disc?
Back pain is the most common sign of a herniated disc. When a dog suffers from back pain, their posture often changes. They may have a curved back all the time or keep their head really low to the ground. Dogs with back pain can also express their pain by crying when trying to move or get up from a seating or lying down position.
Dogs with herniated discs may also suffer sudden paralysis. They might, for example, not be able to use their back legs all of a sudden. Dogs might also have trouble controlling their urination or bowels because of blocked nerves in the spinal column when a disc is slipped.
If your dog is suddenly very clumsy and uncoordinated, this could also be a sign of a herniated disc. Changes to their gait and their physical movements could all be from this condition.
What Should You Do About a Herniated Disc?
If you suspect your dog has a herniated disc, go to the vet hospital right away. They will examine your dog and run x-rays to check if there is a herniated disc.
Herniated discs can be treated conservatively with rest and medications to manage the pain and inflammation the herniated disc may cause. However, oftentimes surgery is necessary to treat and resolve the condition.
Now that you know more about herniated discs in dogs, you can be certain that you get your dog to the vet hospital at the first sign of trouble. For more information about how to care for specific conditions in pets, contact a local vet hospital.