Nov 23, 2009 5:45 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP
It seems that every older dog or cat get stiffs as it ages. When we look into this stiffness, the spine is often the problem.
Arthritis in the spine (spondylosis) is a common problem. We tend to see signs of spondylosis at younger ages in larger pets and certainly see it more commonly in overweight dogs and cats.
Ruptured Intervertebral discs are not nearly as common, but usually more serious. The disc is a jelly donut like cushion that sits between the vertebral bodies. If the "donut" ruptures and extrudes its "jelly" up into the spinal cord space, we will see nerve damage and pain. Often an animal will become totally paralyzed in its hind end. Immediate surgery can alleviate this problem and bring a pet back to full function in many cases. Ruptured discs are most common in Dachshunds but can occur in any breed and occasionally in cats.
Pets can also get bone or spinal tumors and even infections that lead to back pain.
Diagnosing a back problem will require physical exam and x-rays. If the problem is in the bone (spondylosis, bone tumor) we can usually see it on a plain x-ray. If the problem is a disc or spinal cord tumor, advanced imaging studies such as MRI will likely be required for diagnosis.
Spondylosis usually responds to weight loss and pain control measures and most cases of disc rupture do well with surgery. Some partial disc ruptures require only rest and anti-inflammatory medications.
Come see us At Animal Care Clinic for all your pets medical and orthopedic needs. We are available M-F 7:30-6, Sat 9-3 and Mondays until 8 p.m.
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