What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?
Research indicates that dogs with one or two copies of this variant have a similar risk of developing IVDD. However, there are some breeds (e.g. Beagles and Cocker Spaniels, among others) where this variant has been passed down to nearly all dogs of the breed and most do not show overt clinical signs of the disorder. This suggests that there are other genetic and environmental factors (such as weight, mobility, and family history) that contribute to an individual dog’s risk of developing clinical IVDD. Signs of IVDD include neck or back pain, a change in your dog's walking pattern (including dragging of the hind limbs), and paralysis. These signs can be mild to severe, and if your dog starts exhibiting these signs, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a diagnosis.
When do signs and symptoms develop?
Signs of CDDY are recognized in puppies as it affects body shape. IVDD is usually first recognized in adult dogs, with breed specific differences in age of onset.
How do vets diagnose this condition?
For CDDY, dogs with one copy of this variant may have mild proportional differences in their leg length. Dogs with two copies of this variant will often have visually longer bodies and shorter legs. For IVDD, a neurological exam will be performed on any dog showing suspicious signs. Based on the result of this exam, radiographs to detect the presence of calcified discs or advanced imaging (MRI/CT) to detect a disc rupture may be recommended.
How is this condition treated?
IVDD is treated differently based on the severity of the disease. Mild cases often respond to medical management which includes cage rest and pain management, while severe cases are often treated with surgical intervention. Both conservative and surgical treatment should be followed up with rehabilitation and physical therapy.
What actions should I take if my dog is affected?
- Follow veterinary advice for diet, weight management, and daily exercise. Overweight dogs and those with insufficient exercise are thought to be at higher risk of developing clinical disease.
- Ramps up to furniture, avoiding flights of stairs, and using a harness on walks will also help minimize some of the risk of an IVDD event by reducing stress on the back.
- In breeds where this variant is extremely common, this genetic health result should not be a deciding factor when evaluating a dog for breeding or adoption purposes.