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6 Tips on How to Make a Dog with a Slipped Disc Comfortable

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A slipped disc in dogs, more formally known as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), is the most common reason for the appearance of paralysis in dogs. Some breeds are more susceptible than others, and dogs with certain previous health issues could be more likely to develop IVDD. Knowing how to make a dog with a slipped disc comfortable is needed if your dog is diagnosed with this condition.

Slipped Disc in Dogs

IVDD is an ailment in which the supporting discs between the dog's vertebrae bulge or rupture into or around the spinal cord. These discs ultimately put pressure on the nerves running through the dog's spinal cord, causing pain, nerve damage, and other maladies.

Intervertebral disc disease is extremely common in chondrodystrophic breeds, or dogs whose normal cartilage development has been altered through generations of breeding to get a stout, usually shorter appearance. Examples of these breeds include Dachshunds, Beagles, Bulldogs, Corgis, Pugs, Basset Hounds and Poodles.

Slipped disc is not exclusive to these breeds, and disc degeneration can be present in dogs as young as 6 to 12 months. Other symptoms of IVDD in dogs include:

  • pain or stiffness in the back or neck
  • change in stance or posture (often an arched or hunched back)
  • lack of coordination
  • impairment or complete lameness in one or more limbs
  • reluctance to walk, rise, or play
  • sudden general weakness when moving
  • loss of bladder control

Should you notice one or more IVDD symptoms in your pet, get him evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible. If left untreated, IVDD can lead to dog disc rupture, increased pain, and even paralysis. Even when treated, IVDD can have lifelong effects, so consistent care is critical.

Once diagnosed by your vet, knowing how to make a dog with a slipped disc comfortable is a necessity. Your veterinarian should be able to guide you in this process, and the following tips and tricks may be of use too.

RELATED: Slipped Disc in Dogs – Causes and Treatment

6 Tips on How to Make a Dog with a Slipped Disc Comfortable

How to Make a Dog with a Slipped Disc Comfortable

1. Get the Dog Tested First

Diagnosing a dog with slipped disc can be tough, since its precise location and degree of the damage affect the symptoms. That’s why having exact medical history of the dog and detailed vet examination are crucial in this particular case. What I'm trying to say is, you should always seek veterinary care if you suspect your dog is having back problems.

A neurological exam may be necessary for dogs with slipped disc, which would include an X-ray with dye contrast, myelography, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and CT scan (computed tomography) at the veterinary clinic. These tests will determine the level of a dog's spinal cord damage.

In some cases, taking a sample of the dog's cerebral spinal fluid will be necessary to exclude a spinal infection. Your vet will be able to walk you through the necessary steps and procedures before beginning any testing.

2. Medication and Surgery

Depending on the severity of the spinal disc damage, your veterinarian may prescribe medication or recommend surgery. It is most likely that your vet will prescribe pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs to cure the infection.

If your dog suffers from more than one slipped disc, surgery is usually the only option to solve the issue. Since it is most effective within the first two days after the injury, it is crucial that you take the dog to the vet as soon as you notice any spinal problems.

3. Give the Dog Some Quiet Time

Depending on the severity of your dog's spinal injury, restricting his movement for at least 4 to 6 weeks is highly recommended. The best option is to keep your pet confined to a dog crate to reduce the chances of sudden movements that could make this spinal condition worse.

If you don't want to kennel your dog, you can provide him with his own space in another way. Small breeds can be confined with a puppy playpen or you could give your large breed dog a room of his own. Just be sure the area is safe for the dog, with no stairs or high furniture for the dog to climb on.

4. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has the same benefit for pets as it does for humans. You may be able to do some physical therapy exercises with your dog at home. Your veterinarian can share some effective exercise routines that a dog with slipped disc is still capable of. They may also refer you to a veterinary rehab facility or a veterinary physical therapist.

Massage, hydrotherapy and stretching could be recommended for your dog as well. Hydrotherapy and underwater treadmills for dogs especially have proven benefits for slipped disc and other spinal problems in dogs.

Your dog's physical therapy will be dependent upon the animal's overall health condition, the severity of the spinal problem and whether or not your dog requires surgery.

5. Manage the Dog's Weight

If your dog is carrying around extra weight, it is extremely bad for his back. The added weight creates more pressure and stress on the dog's spine. If your dog is overweight, it is imperative that you help him lose the weight as soon as possible.

Rear Leg Sling for Slipped Disc

6. Rear Leg Sling

Using a dog sling for mobility as the one you see me show in the above picture helps to support and stabilize your pet's hind end. These slings wrap under a dog's belly and up over his back. The long handles allow you to help lift your dog and take some of the weight off of his back and legs.

You can purchase rear leg slings or make your own DIY sling. These products may take some getting used to, but eventually your dog will realize that the sling is helping him to move about. Because the sling is made of a soft material, it won't cause the dog any discomfort. Just be sure to use gentle pressure, and do not pull up too aggressively.

Some of the best dog slings for slipper disc in dogs are the below brands:

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