IVDD In Dogs


1.) What is Intervertebral Disc Disease?

IVDD in Dogs: Canine intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common orthopedic problem seen by veterinarians.

The discs are thick plate- or disc-like cushions which lie between the bony vertebrae in the spine. They are composed of a fibrous outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a pulpy, gelatinous center called the nucleus pulposus. They help to cushion the spine as your dog walks, trots, runs, twists, and jumps.

As time goes by, the discs start to degenerate. The blood supply to the disc decreases, so the tissues are not so vital and resilient. The soft, gelatinous central material is replaced with harder cartilaginous material.

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2.) What causes IVDD?

In certain breeds, called the chondrodystrophic breeds, the discs degenerate much faster than in non-chondrodystrophic breeds. (Chondrodystrophic means “abnormal cartilage”.) In fact, degeneration can start as early as 6-12 months in some chondrodystrophic dogs! (Examples of chondrodystrophic breeds are the Dachshund, Pekinese, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Basset, Beagle, and Poodle.)

Other factors which cause or worsen the degeneration are the wear-and-tear associated with an active life, obesity, and a poor diet.

Disc disease is of two types: Type I and Type II. Type I consists of a sudden, large tear in the degenerated, weak outer layer of the disc which causes the degenerated, hard center to explode up into the spinal canal.

Members of the chondrodystrophic breeds get Type I IVDD. Since degeneration of the discs occurs earlier in these dogs, Type I IVDD. usually shows up first between 4 to 6 years of age.

In the Type II disc disease, the tear in the outer layer is smaller and tends to occur gradually over a period of time. The central material tends to bulge up into the spinal canal but then will fall back into place between the vertebrae. This second Type tends to occur in breeds with normal cartilage. Since the degeneration in these dogs occurs more gradually, Type II IVDD. usually shows up first between 8 to 10 years of age.

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