Intervertebral disc disease

Herniated or “slipped” disc affecting the spine

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), similar to a “slipped disc” in people can cause a variety of symptoms in pets. Signs may include:

  • Difficulty walking or reluctance to move
  • Back or neck pain, which may be indicated by vocalization or sensitivity when touched
  • Weakness or paralysis in the hind limbs or all four legs
  • Loss of coordination or an unsteady gait
  • Inability to control bladder or bowel movements
  • Signs of pain when lifting or shaking the head
  • Arching of the back or hunched posture
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs

Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with intervertebral disc disease, including Arthritis, spinal tumors, or nerve injuries.

If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your pet's health, it's important to consult with your veterinarian and seek veterinary care promptly. Early detection and intervention can improve the chances of successful management and prevent complications.

When you visit your veterinarian for concerns related to intervertebral disc disease, the following may occur:

  • Medical History: They will take a detailed medical history, including any signs and their duration.
  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet, checking for any abnormalities, focusing on the spine and legs.Sedation may be needed to adequately assess the extent of the disease and alleviate any discomfort.
  • Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic testing such as neurological exams, X-rays, or advanced imaging (e.g., MRI or CT scan) may be recommended to evaluate the presence and severity of intervertebral disc disease and to rule out other possible conditions.
  • Treatment options: Treatment options for intervertebral disc disease can vary depending on the severity, location, and specific needs of your pet. It may involve medication to reduce pain and inflammation, rest and restricted activity, physical therapy, or in some cases, back or neck surgery. Palliative care, which focuses on providing comfort and improving your pet's quality of life, may also be discussed.
  • Advanced diagnostic or treatment options:In some cases, referral to a veterinary neurologist may be advised for more advanced diagnostics and treatment.
  • Follow-up care: Your veterinarian will discuss a follow-up plan, which may involve regular monitoring of your pet's progress, additional tests if necessary, and adjustments to the treatment regimen.

Your veterinary healthcare team will partner with you to decide which treatment option is best for your pet's and your family’s specific condition and situation.

While it may not be possible to prevent intervertebral disc disease entirely, there are things you can do at home to help reduce the risk or minimize the impact:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can strain the spine, so provide a balanced diet and regular exercise to help your pet maintain a healthy weight.
  • Use proper handling techniques: When lifting or carrying your pet, support their back and hindquarters to minimize stress on the spine.
  • Use caution during play: Avoid activities that involve excessive jumping or twisting, rough play, or high-impact movements, as these may increase the risk of spinal injury.
  • Assist when necessary: Use ramps or steps to assist your pet with getting on and off furniture or vehicles, reducing the strain on their spine.

Consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance on preventing intervertebral disc disease in your dog. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your pet's specific needs and medical history.

Please note that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has intervertebral disc disease or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$1,986

You pay only

$199

Intervertebral disc disease

You save

$1,787

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$1,986

You pay only

$199

Intervertebral disc disease

You save

$1,787

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$1,986

You pay only

$199

Intervertebral disc disease

You save

$1,787

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.