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Intervertebral Disc Disease Catherine MacLean, DVM Grantham, NH Fargo has made a full recovery

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ntervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a disease that can affect any creature with a spine. In small animal veterinary medicine it is commonly seen in dogs with long backs such as the Dachshund, Corgi, Beagle, and Basset Hound. The back is divided into three regions: cervical (neck region), thoracic (over the rib cage), and lumbar (lower back). The back is also made up of bones called vertebrae. In between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc. These fluid filled discs act as shock absorbers by helping displace the weight load on the spine during our daily activities. Canine intervertebral disc disease occurs when a disc in your dog’s spine ruptures or herniates. This causes leaking of the disc fluid, pain, and severe inflammation. Once the disc ruptures or herniates it can no longer act as a shock absorber or help with the weight load on the spine. The side effects of IVDD are serious, and the symptoms will vary depending on where the disc ruptures or herniates in the spine. When a disc herniation or rupture occurs, it is important for medical attention to be sought. The condition is very painful, and if left untreated, the dog can become paralyzed. Possible symptoms include stiffness of the neck, back pain, crying when handled or picked up, shivering, reluctance to play or run, weakness in the limbs, an unusual gate, and paralysis. A diagnosis of IVDD is made with a thorough physical and neurological exam and diagnostics such as x-rays, MRI or CT Scan, or a Myleograph (injection of dye into the spine). Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can begin. Treatment options depend on the severity of the clinical signs that the patient is exhibiting, location of the herniated or ruptured disc, and Continued Next Page

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