Herniated disc in dogs

 The Herniated disk It is a degenerative disease of the intervertebral discs and is one of the most frequent suffering dog he shows difficulty to move the rear legs. A compression of the spinal cord occurs when the disc material out of the spinal canal (extrusion) or bulges (potusion). This phenomenon, usually causes pain and dysfunction in the spinal cord that can be reflected in varying degrees; incoordination to move, our dog stops walking, crawling or expensive movements (paresis or paralysis of the extremities), and problems in urination and defecation. To combat the pain the animal adopts positions analgesic carry low head and arching the back (back) in the area of the lesion.

It is a condition that can manifest itself in any intervertebral disc although it is common to find this type of lesion in thoraco-lumbar and cervical spinal cord segments.

Hansen Herniated discs are classified into three types, depending on the degree of degeneration.

The calls Hansen type I are which correspond to breeds condrodistroficas (small, long column and short legs) as the poodle, dachshund, Pekingese, cocker?, in young animals from 2 to 6 years. There is a degeneration of Chondroid of the nucleus pulposus with a possible calcification of this (Chondroid metaplasia). The core becomes cartilaginous material hardens, makes dorsal fibers of the disc to break and that material out to the intervertebral channel (extrusion into the spinal canal) giving acute focal compression. Produced by sudden movements in the column such as: jumps, falls, blows or, uploaded and downloaded from the sofa. Compression is acute but the problem may be due to, an acute cause, or an evolution of micro trauma.

The discal degenerations Hansen type II correspond to large breeds not condrodistroficas such as the boxer, labrador, German Shepherd, rotweiler... in adult animals from 5 to 12 years. Evolution is slow to thethroughout his life and problems out later. Generates a gradual protrusion of the contents of the disc fibrous ring which has been degenerating over time (fibrous metaplasia). The material is intact; There is a focal, slow compression and progressive (myelopathy)

It is possible that breeds non-condrodostroficas den discs degenerations Hansen type I at any age of animal.

There is a third classification, degenerations discs Hansen type III. They are acute, severe extrusions and who are studying with progressive mielomalacia generating, in many cases, the death of the animal.

Clinical symptoms listed are:

  • Pain, the animal adopts positions analgesic due to inflammatory reactions (lowering the head and curve your back).

  • Decrease in proprioception; the animal is left a leg, he is unable to put it correctly with the pad in contact with the ground you have incoordination move, makes movements costs or creeps (paresis or paralysis), difficulty maintaining balance.

  • There is a loss of sensitivity in the injured area and limbs.

  • Problems of urinary or fecal incontinence or retention.

  • A few days later alteration of muscle tone and decrease of the mass and strength.

For the diagnosis of Herniated discs the veterinarian should very well know medical history, race, age, clinical signs featuring the animal and good neurological examination.

Using x-rayscolumn, you can see if there is a reduction of the intervertebral space but it is not possible to know how are the intervertebral discs unless they are calcified; Therefore, it is difficult to see the herniated material and so it is necessary to perform a myelography.

Myelography is a technique allowing the introduction of iodinated contrast around the cord (subarachnoid space) see a silhouette of this. Through its outline, lets know where compression.

There are other complementary methods such as TAC (computerized Axial Tomography) and Nuclear magnetic resonance which can, also, diagnose the exact point where the disc herniation occurred.

Antoni Ramon Boixaderas
Master's degree in physical therapy from animals
Technical Director of canine orthopedics

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