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Discopathy in a dog

Treatment of canine discopathy at the Kurosz Clinic: what are the symptoms and what are the treatment options?

Discopathy is a very common spinal condition in dogs, and can occur at any age in a pet’s life. Some breeds are more vulnerable than others: dachshunds, dobermans, spaniels and French bulldogs in particular can be affected. In the case of discopathy, the reaction time is very important, so it is better to go straight to a vet for a diagnosis.

Discopathy FAQ – frequently asked questions:

Discopathy in dogs – what is it?

  • Intervertebral discs occur between the vertebrae of the spine. Healthy discs provide the spine with cushioning and enable it to bear considerable loads. Discopathy is when disc protrusion or prolapse into the spinal canal occurs. Discopathy is a condition that gives very severe pain and even symptoms of limb paralysis and paresis.

Discopathy in the dog – symptoms:

  • The initial symptom of discopathy is spinal pain. Depending on which section of the disc prolapses, we may have pain in that area or radiation to adjacent areas.
  • Another symptom can be limb paresis, which can sometimes be mistaken for an orthopaedic problem because it looks as if the animal is limping on its paw or paws.
  • The last symptom is limb paralysis, incontinence or retention of urine and faecal incontinence.

Discopathy can be confirmed or ruled out with a neurological examination and with the help of additional tests. Classical X-rays cannot confirm discopathy because unmineralised discs are difficult to see. An X-ray with contrast can be performed, although given the risk of complications and inconclusive results, a CT scan and MRI are best.

Can a dog’s discopathy be cured and is it dangerous?

  • In the early stages of the condition when there are only have symptoms of pain, performing surgery to remove the prolapsed disc will bring the patient significant relief. When symptoms of paralysis and paresis occur, surgery often makes the symptoms disappear. The time it takes for symptoms to recede depends on how hard and how long the disc has been pressing on the spinal cord. Sometimes patients return to fitness two-three days after surgery, and sometimes after two-three months. The worst prognosis is for patients who do not have preserved deep sensation at the time of surgery. These patients will require long-term rehabilitation and their prognosis is very uncertain. Fast recognition of the condition and appropriate treatment means that the patient has a very good chance of recovery. Untreated discopathy is very dangerous for a patient’s health and continued functioning.

How do we treat discopathy in a dog at the Kurosz Clinic?

  • Depending on the patient’s symptoms, how long the condition has lasted and the results of the CT scan, we treat our patients with pharmacological or, in most cases, surgical treatment. We remove prolapsed discs into the spinal canal using the most effective surgical methods. We operate on discopathy in any of the spinal segments (cervical, thoracic, lumbar). We also place a very strong emphasis on supportive physiotherapy after surgical treatment and during drug treatment. Our physiotherapist takes care of strengthening the spinal muscles which results in better performance of the animal and prevents disc prolapse elsewhere.