Reasons for Surgery
- A dog could require canine disc surgery if it experiences intervertebral disc disease. This disease causes the intervertebral discs in the dog's spine to become hard and less flexible, which can lead them to rupture and so put pressure on the dog's spinal cord. This pressure can cause muscle weakness in the dog's legs and in severe cases can lead to paralysis. A ruptured disc can also interfere with the dog's bladder control.
Canine Disc Surgery
- During canine disc surgery, a spinal surgeon makes an incision in the dog's back, exposing the bone that covers its spinal cord. The surgeon removes a portion of that bone in a procedure called a hemilaminectomy. Once the spinal cord is exposed, the surgeon can see the herniated disk that is causing the problem. She then removes a section of bone over the spinal cord and the portion of the damaged disc that is pressing down on the dog's spinal cord and causing problems.
- Undergoing canine disc surgery exposes a dog to some risks. If the dog undergoes a myelogram before surgery to help the surgeon identify the damaged disc, there is a low risk that the dog could experience seizures; these are easily treated and usually do not last more than 24 hours. During surgery, the dog will be given general anesthesia, which carries a general risk of causing an adverse reaction. After surgery, the dog's spinal cord could become inflamed. If this happens, the dog's condition could worsen instead of improving.
- After undergoing canine disc surgery, the dog will require intensive aftercare. If it is mobile, it should be confined to a small area to make sure that it cannot roam around the home and injure itself. While waiting for it to regain bladder control, the owner may need to express its bladder. The owner will need to perform physical rehabilitation exercises on the dog to help it regain muscle strength and range of motion, according to Purdue University.
- If a dog has mild symptoms of intervertebral disc disease, a veterinarian might suggest conservative treatment like cage rest and steroid injections before recommending canine disc surgery. If a dog does undergo surgery, the owner will need to institute changes in its life in the future, including not letting it jump or climb stairs, in order to reduce the risk of further disc damage, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.