A “slipped disc” is a bit of a misleading term for the neurological issue it describes. This condition is actually caused by the rupture or tear of the cartilage discs between each vertebra in your pet’s spinal column. The jelly-like substance that protrudes from the slipped disc puts pressure on the spinal cord, resulting the presentation of neurological symptoms.
How to Recognize a Slipped Disc in Your Pet
Slipped discs are more common in dogs than cats. If your dog has experienced a slipped disc, you may notice:
- Difficulty walking—one or more limbs may not move at all, or your dog may lose coordination, resulting in staggering
- Vocalization or behavior changes associated with pain
Often pet owners become aware of their dog’s pain when trying to pick them up and mistakenly think the pain is in the belly. In reality, it is the upward pressure from the belly on the slipped disc that increases pain.
Possible Causes for a Slipped Disc
Slipped discs are more common in dogs because some breeds have a genetic susceptibility or congenital abnormality. A slipped disc may also be the result of:
- Inflammation (osteoarthritis)
Mild trauma, such as jumping out of a car or off furniture, may be enough to rupture discs that are already compromised because of degenerative disease.
Treatment Options for Slipped Disc
The location of the slipped disc impacts the severity of the symptoms; it may also determine the type of treatment.
It is possible for a slipped disc to heal naturally, but this is typically only the case if it is found early, before the inner disc material has begun to put pressure on the spinal cord. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Consequently, most slipped discs require spine surgery.
If your pet is showing signs of a slipped disc or other neurological disorder, contact The ANIC right away. Our doctors are always available for consultation and can help you determine if emergency services are required or if it is safe for your pet to wait for a scheduled appointment.