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Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is the most common neurologic condition in dogs. It is a spinal condition that can have a very dramatic and immediate onset with a wide range of symptoms.


If you suspect that your dog has a spinal injury, you should seek qualified veterinary care immediately. Your dog may require emergency treatment to save them from permanent impairment.


After evaluation and treatment by your veterinarian, it is important to receive treatment for the physical impairments associated with the condition. These issues can be incoordination, instability, knuckling of the paws, and falling. CANINE PHYSICAL THERAPY can effectively address many of the mobility issues that come about after spinal injuries.


In human medicine, patients who suffer spinal injuries, like disc herniations and strokes, are prescribed physical therapy to improve neurologic function. This special type of rehab helps patient's improve their coordination and ability to walk without falling. This same treatment is effective in dogs as well! With a guided, individualized treatment plan, dogs who have had a neurologic injury have the potential to regain motor control and function of their limbs.


What is IVDD?

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IVDD occurs when a disc in the spine ruptures, resulting in herniation and causing impingement of the spinal cord. This commonly occurs in the lower back but can occur in the neck. Without immediate veterinary treatment, it has the potential to cause permanent damage.


Unfortunately, IVDD is most common in long-back dogs. Commonly affected breeds include the following:

  • Dachshund 

  • Shih Tzu

  • Beagle

  • French bulldog

  • Corgi

  • Basset hound

  • Poodle

  • Chihuahua

  • Labrador retriever

  • German shepherd

  • Doberman pinscher

In smaller dogs, the onset of IVDD is typically more sudden. In larger breeds, it may be more gradual. In all cases, the symptoms are a result of nerve damage caused by the herniated disc material.


You may be able to protect your long-back dog against IVDD by implementing exercises that strengthen muscles that support and stabilize the spine. If you notice your dog is unable to maintain a straight back or level topline, strengthening of the core and back muscles is key. The core muscles wrap around the abdomen and attach to the lower spine. When these muscles are strong, they internally splint and stabilize the spine.

Treatment for spinal injuries -- veterinary treatment and physical therapy.

When it comes to neurologic conditions, including IVDD, veterinary assessment soon after symptom onset is vital. Without prompt treatment impairments like instability and incoordination, can worsen over time and even become permanent. Evaluation by your primary veterinarian, as well as a board-certified veterinary neurologist (look for the letters ACVIM after their name) is key.


Whether your dog underwent surgery or is being managed conservatively, CANINE PHYSICAL THERAPY is instrumental in guiding your dog to full recovery. Just as in humans, physical therapists specialize in helping patients recover their neurologic function so they can walk and enjoy daily life again. Patient-specific treatment is designed to improve nerve and muscle function, so that daily tasks become as easy as they once were. With proper guidance from an Animal Physical Therapist, pet parents can learn how to perform treatment to reduce and eliminate pain and improve mobility, so their pet can enjoy the best quality of life possible. 

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