Spondylosis is a condition in which bridges of bone are formed on the bottom of vertebral segments of the spine. These bridges or bony spurs occur because of unstable vertebral segments or injury. The body grows this bone to stabilize the area, but this leads to pain, stiffness, and limited movement in the pet’s back. Spondylosis is most commonly seen in middle aged and older large breed dogs but cats and small/medium sized dogs can be affected as well.
- Back pain
- Difficulty rising or laying down
- Inability to jump
- Difficulty getting on and off objects
- Muscle wasting
Spondylosis does appear to have a genetic component; meaning that a dog who has spondylosis may pass on the propensity to develop it to their offspring.
Diagnosis is made using x-rays, but additional testing may be needed to rule out other causes of bony changes along the spine such as infection and cancer. In some cases, spondylosis can be involved in spinal cord compression and an MRI may be needed to diagnose this. Surgery may be needed to remove bone spurs that impinge on the spinal cord.
Treatment for spondylosis generally involves pain control. This can include medications, chiropractic care, acupuncture, laser therapy, or physical therapy. See the page on arthritis treatment and joint supplements for more information on these different options.
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