Image Source: Pexels

The symptoms of IVDD (intervertebral disc disease) in dogs range from moderate to severe. IVDD is a condition that gradually affects the spinal cord, but it may not manifest until a trigger occurs. Nevertheless, a dog who seems to be in perfect health one day may suffer a ruptured disc due to a tumble or leap. IVDD is a degenerative (gradual) condition, but a leap or fall can cause an acute phase of this disease by injuring a disc that IVDD has already compromised. Listed below are some warning signs to watch out for.

1. Exceptionally Reserved and Quiet

When your dog is in discomfort, he may spend substantial time napping or resting in an unfamiliar location. Additionally, you may witness the dog withdrawing or lying in an isolated place.

2. Sensitivity to Physical Contact and Inability to Move

It could react by howling, yipping, or even becoming aggressive against you when you touch it. On extremely rare occasions, you can notice that your dog avoids you to avoid being snagged or petted by you. The inability to move indicates the severity of the ailment, which is likely a cervical issue. When a cervical disc rupture occurs, all four legs are affected. 

However, if the dog can feel some pain from a severe squeeze to the toes and responds appropriately by yelping or biting, this is a sign that the dog still possesses feelings. A forceful pinch that passes unnoticed or causes a faint flinch may suggest that the dog’s limbs are paralyzed and lack pain feeling. Back support for dogs may be needed to provide back pain relief and spinal support for them to move comfortably.

3. New Stride

Pet owners may observe a unique swaying gait while their dog walks. They might drag either of their limbs. There is frequently hesitation to jump up or off furniture or lower their head to their food bowl. In addition to these symptoms, bladder control may be impaired. Incoordination most frequently affects the rear legs but can affect all four limbs. The dog will demonstrate visible stumbling, wobbling, and instability. It may also scratch the ground with its claws.

4. A Hunched Back

When a dog has problems with his discs, he will usually develop a hunch in his back. This hunch might be severe or more subtle, suggesting that one or more of the dog’s vertebrae are somewhat protruding. A slow, shuffling walk and a rigid belly may also be symptoms your dog is experiencing.

5. Paw Raising

A dog’s ability to feel pain might be altered due to damage to the spinal cord. When a nerve is blocked, a dog’s brain may be deceived into thinking that every step causes the dog pain. As a result, the dog may constantly lift one of its paws. They will yelp either unprovoked or in response to being handled since the handling causes them pain. 

Even a single step will cause great difficulty in jumping or climbing. Because of the discomfort, the dog will keep its head lowered and is hesitant to look up or lower its head when eating. Some canines will begin trembling, shivering, or panting, and their bellies will become large or firm. Because of the discomfort, it is unable to shake its entire body.

6. Sudden Paralysis

The gradual appearance of these symptoms is typically attributable to a slowly degenerating disc that is gradually causing damage to the spinal cord. On the other hand, inevitable ruptures can happen very suddenly and with incredible force. An incident of IVDD can cause a dog to become fully paralyzed in a matter of seconds, even if the dog may have been having an ordinary life moments before. 

The hind legs are the ones that are most likely to become paralyzed, while all four legs can become affected. Incoordination and urine incontinence are often symptoms that come before paralysis or come hand in hand with it.


If you suspect that your dog has a ruptured disc, you must take them to the vet as soon as possible for an examination because the severity of the condition can worsen rather rapidly. It is in your best interest to take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of preventing your dog from losing the ability to use its legs. Even a few hours of delay can occasionally result in catastrophic and irreversible consequences.