Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Written by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2020

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If your dog seems to be suffering from back problems, there is a good chance that your pup has developed Intervertebral Disc Disease (also known as IVDD).

IVDD occurs when the discs in your dogs’ spinal column shift and begin to protrude outward. It can be very painful for dogs as it affects the spinal cord and the nerves surrounding it.

There Are Two Kinds Of IVDD And Can Affect Dogs Of All Ages:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2

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Type 1 IVDD

Type 1 can occur in dogs of any age but dogs tend to be seen more often in stockier and shorter breeds such as:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Corgis
  • Dachshunds
  • Shit Tzus’

…and other small dogs tend to be predisposed to IVDD.

Type 1 occurs when your dog’s spine is shifted out of place and is usually due to a sudden impact.

Type 2 IVDD

Type 2 is more gradual and not as severe but the cause is the same as in Type 1: pressure on your dog’s spinal cord causing his or her disc to bulge.

Type II IVDD affects more senior dogs from 8 to 15 years old and isn’t only in the smaller breeds.

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Symptoms Of Disc Disease Or Any Back Injury In Dogs?

Some of the more common symptoms of IVDD or any back injury are as follows:

  • Hard time jumping
  • Weakness and pain in the back legs
  • Yelping in pain
  • Spasms in the back or neck
  • Seemingly anxious
  • Lack of appetite
  • Back is hunched or tense
  • Activity level is much less
  • Loss of bladder control

Causes Of Disc Disease In Dogs?

The causes of Type 1 IVVD which usually occur in the neck area is when the discs located there harden. This can cause damage to the disc and may cause it to break down.

Type 1 is generally caused by a sudden impact as a hard landing when jumping causes the disc to break.

The break is what causes the pressure on the spinal cord.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

Type 2 is more of a deterioration of the discs over time. This causes them to break, put pressure on the spinal cord and bulge out.

As mentioned above, Type 2 usually occurs in older dogs and is from the years of overuse.

With Type 2, since the nerves of your dogs’ spinal cord are compressed, it can affect the whole body including all limbs and even bladder control.

In the worst cases, paralysis can occur.  Type 2 can even cause numbness in the neck or even the rear legs.

How Can You Diagnose Back Injury Problems In Dogs?

disc disease in dogs

If you think your dog has a back injury, of course, take your dog to the vet.

Your vet will conduct a full neurological exam to figure out where the injury is located in the spinal cord.

Some areas of the spinal cord are difficult to detect and in this case, your dog might need an ultrasound or other special imaging tests.

If your vet can’t locate the source of the injury, your vet might need to inject dye into the spine of your dog. This enables your vet to take a through MRI or other CT scan to figure out where the nerves are severed.

If this is the case, surgery might be necessary. This procedure requires your dog to be put under anesthesia.

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Treatment Of IVDD In Dogs

Treating a dog with IVDD or any back injury depends on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord.

If your dog just has minor damage, your vet will probably recommend anti-inflammatory pills or even steroids to help reduce the swelling.

In this case, your dog will need to be confined for six weeks in a crate so that the treatment can take effect.

After about six weeks, your dog can then go back to normal daily activity, although slowly.

If the spinal cord has severe damage and your dog is paralyzed, surgery will probably be necessary. The surgery that is performed will be an attempt to remove the portion of the vertebrae that is causing the paralysis.   Even with surgery, the return to normal activity and functioning is not a guarantee.

Some dogs with IVDD have spasms of the back and spine muscles. Heat and massage with some medication is usually the best source of treatment for spams.

Muscle relaxers, such as Diazepam and Methocarbamol, are usually recommended to help relax the nerves surrounding the spinal cord.


Depending on the severity of the injury, back surgery can cost from $3,000 to $5,000.

If your dog is a breed like a dachshund or basset hound, that has a pre-disposition for IVDD or any back injury, you might want to consider pet insurance to help offset these costs.

With dachshunds and similar breeds, it’s best to insure them when they are young before a back injury or IVDD is considered pre-existing and then your dog won’t get covered.


If your dog has a mild case of IVDD, the chances of your dog being able to have feeling in his back legs are very promising. If surgery is done right away, the chances of a full recovery are even better.

Rehabilitation with dogs that have had surgery is important to help speed up recovery and help your dog walk normally. In some cases, dogs need a mobility cart to help them become active and walk properly.

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The best thing you can do for IVDD is to keep your dog at his or her optimal weight.  If your dog tends to pull at his leash, a harness would be recommended to take the strain off the neck area.

Diet, as always, helps keep your dog healthy and happy. Make sure your vet is OK with your dog’s weight and/or diet, particularly in breeds that are prone to IVDD.

Tips To Help Dogs With IVVD Or Any Back Pain

  • Eliminate Stress – Help eliminate the stress on your dog’s back and neck: You can raise your dog’s food bowls so that he doesn’t have to bend when eating or drinking.
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture helps regenerate your dogs’ neurons mobilizing stem cell regrowth.
  • Back Support – sometimes a back brace can help relieve the strain on your dog’s back.

While IVDD is hard for us to see in our pups, your dog can still maintain a happy, long life.  As always, watch your dog closely and if there are any changes in your dog’s gait or walk, take your dog to the vet.


Other articles you may find helpful: 

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


We get it, your dog is like your child and when your puppy or dog has health problems it is scary. Luckily there is pet insurance companies that will help you pay for any veterinarian care they made need. Checkout the best puppy and dog pet insurance companies and learn about common puppy health issues and ailments in older pets


Common Health Problems:

Acral Lick Granuloma in Dogs

Alopecia in Dogs

Antifreeze Toxicity in Dogs

Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

Arthritis In Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Boxer Cardiomyopathy

Cataracts In Dogs

Cherry Eye in Dogs

Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Collie Eye Anomaly In Dogs

Constipation in Dogs

Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs

Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Degenerative Myelopathy | Spinal Cord Disease In Dogs

Dementia in Dogs | Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Demodicosis In Dogs

Dental Problems in Dogs

Diabetes In Dogs

Dog Comedones (Schnauzer Bumps)

Dog Diarrhea: What Can You Do To Help?

Dog Ear Infections

Dystocia in Dogs

Ectropion in Dogs

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Entropion In Dogs

Eye Problems in Dogs

Fleas in Dogs

Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Gallstones in Dogs

Gastroenteritis In Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

Heart Murmurs In Dogs | How To Identify Them

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hot Spots On Dogs

Hyperparathyroidism In Dogs

Hypothyroidism In Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease In Dogs

Nasal Solar Dermatitis In Dogs

Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Dogs

Renal Failure in Dogs

Seizures in Dogs

Wobbler Syndrome In Dogs

The Dog Flu – Symptoms & Treatment for Canine Influenza

Dog Biting Nails