Spinal disc herniation is also known as a slipped disc. Common in people, likewise dogs can suffer from this condition. The clinical signs from a slipped disc depend on the location of the injury. A disc injury in the lower back can cause problems in the hind quarters; where as an injury in the neck can cause problems in all limbs.
Unfortunately this type of injury can happen repeatedly in different vertebrae especially in breeds that are predisposed. Dwarf breeds with long bodies and short legs such as Basset hounds, Dachshunds and Pekingese are prone to disc extrusion, where discs deteriorate and calcify as early as one year of age. Large breed dogs like Labradors, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers are more prone to disc protrusion, similar to that seen in people.
With spinal injuries, neurological function is lost in a specific order and recovery is greatly influenced by prompt medical attention. There are warning signs to look out for. These include: Shivering, especially when combined with unusual inactivity. Refusal to get up and play even for food. Yelping when you pet or try to pick up your dog. Refusal to bend down for food or water, limping of any kind and dragging of the back legs. You may also notice a change in posture, a pulled in head or arched back or movement that doesn’t look completely under control.
If your dog shows any of these signs call your vet immediately. In the case of dragging the back legs or showing any signs of paralysis or severe pain drive immediately to your vet or nearest emergency facility. Do not wait. The sooner you seek medical attention the better the chances for your dog. Even dogs who experienced total paralysis when treated immediately had a 50% success rate of restoring function. There is a 90% success rate for those dogs who were experiencing pain but only a 5% success rate of restoring function when the owner waited 24hours to seek medical help.
Treatment depends on the degree and duration of neurological dysfunction. Rehabilitation is an essential part of spinal injury treatment. Depending on the cause of the injury treatment may be crate rest, physical therapy, surgery or supportive care. Supportive care is often the only option and is done through physical therapy. Swimming can help and acupuncture has also been known to ease pain and increase mobility. The aim is to strengthen muscles and the neurological function in your dog. A lean, well-muscled and fit dog is better able to recover from injuries if they occur.
Quincy Dogs Spero Harness is a simple yet amazing product designed in a way to help with this condition. It enables you to take 20% – 30% of the weight off your dogs back legs, allowing your dog to walk further. This in turn helps start the process of rebuilding muscles. With spinal cases by lifting up the handles on the back you also straighten the spine slightly, making it more comfortable for your dog.
Take a look at the video below showing Snoopy. Snoopy underwent an operation on the whole of his spine. The video demonstrates the difference the Spero harness made to Snoopy. The owner started by using a strap bought from his vets for around £45. As the owner lifted Snoopy the strap tightened around his belly. The second half of the clip demonstrates the first time Snoopy used the Spero harness.