Disc Disease describes a bulging or ruptured Inter-vertebral (I.V.) Disc. The spine is made up of bony segments (vertebra) which are connected by ligaments. In between the vertebra are shock absorbing cushion-like structures called intervertebral discs. IV discs are comprised of a fibrous outer ring (nucleus fibrosis) and an inner jelly like substance (nucleus pulposis) much like a jelly donut. The outer ring can rupture, extruding the inner jelly dorsally up into the spinal cord causing serious problems. Symptoms include pain in the mildest cases, demonstrating a drunken staggering gait or paresis (partial paralysis), in more severe conditions. In most severe situations full paralysis is seen demonstrated by dragging of the rear limbs with no deep pain (cannot feel a toe pinch). If deep pain is lost, emergency neurosurgery at a specialist facility is required.

In other words symptoms can range from pain, shivering, reluctance to jump to total paralysis of the rear limbs.

In mild or moderate cases, treatment includes rest, pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy. However, in the case of paralysis, emergency neuro-surgery is required.

Weight control is essential to reduce chances of initial back disease, or recurrence of the problem. Strict cage rest is absolutely necessary for 2-3 weeks to increase chances of successful recovery. (No jumping on or off furniture, no steps, no rapid starts or turns, no standing on hind legs are allowed; leash walks only)

Anti-inflammatory injections are sometimes administered reduce swelling in the spinal cord and minimize or prevent further neurological damage. If the condition staggering worsens, (stumbling, or loss of function of rear limbs) immediate surgical attention is required, usually costing several thousand dollars. Emergency spinal surgery can bring about complete and total recovery of normal motor function in a paralyzed animal if caught in time.