Herniated Disc in Dogs

Herniated discs in dogs caused by intervertebral degenerative disc disease and other spine problems in dogs can cause conditions commonly referred to as slipped disc, bulging discs, herniated disc, protrusion of the discs, and ruptured discs.  Some breeds are more prone to disc problems than others such as dachshunds, beagles, bull-dogs, and other breeds.  Also larger breeds, aging dogs and overweight dogs can exhibit spinal disc problems.  The intervertebral discs provide cushioning and act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones or vertebra in the spine.  When something goes wrong with the discs, the material they are made of can escape into the spinal column. Disc problems in dogs can occur anywhere in the spine column and specifically in the cervical vertebra or neck, thoracic vertebra or chest, and lumbar vertebra or low back. 
 
Symptoms of herniated discs in dogs can include pain, nerve damages, paralysis, difficulty walking, and numbness in the affected limb.  Other signs are reluctance to move their heads or keeping their heads low.  They could be walking stiffly and may not want to move quickly or exhibit pain when touched.  They may also show signs of paralysis or numbness by dragging their paws on the ground.  Some may be anxious, or unwilling to eat, or their behavior is just not right or normal.  Spine and back problems in dogs are difficult to accurately diagnose without the help of high-resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI. 
  
An MRI examination of the spine shows the anatomy of the vertebrae that make up the spine, as well as the disks or discs, the spinal cord, and the intervertebral spaces between the vertebrae through which the spinal nerves pass.  Depending on the location of symptoms or problem area, only part of the spine may be imaged. For example, the cervical (neck) portion, the thoracic (chest) spine or the lumbar (lower) spine.  The exquisite detail found in MR images, allow the veterinary radiologist to evaluate the spine and determine exactly where the herniated disc in the dog is pressing into the spinal canal.


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