Spine disease is a common issue faced by many dogs, particularly those within the French bulldog breed. Many of them are not even aware of it and are taken for granted, allowing the disc to degenerate and become a cause of severe pain. The slipped disc disease can quickly spread and damage other disks within the spine, making it difficult for owners to pick up on its symptoms. In this article, we will try to explain all these common spine diseases within the French bulldog.
What is Intervertebral Disc?
The intervertebral discs are part of the spine that hold the bones together. The discs are made of a fibrous material called myelin, which is responsible for transmitting nerve signals. The discs act as shock absorbers and prevent the spinal cord from getting damaged. They also lubricate the joints and allow them to move freely.
It is a common misconception that dogs have only one disc in their spine. In reality, they have three discs: the two at the base of the spine, as well as the one in between them called Lumbar Disc. The two discs at the base of the spine are known as Lumbar Discs. They are responsible for transmitting nerve signals from your dog’s legs to their brain and vice versa. On the other hand, Spinal Cord is sandwiched between these two discs and is responsible for sending signals back and forth between your dog’s brain and their legs.
What is French Bulldog Slipped Disc Disease?
Slipped disc is a condition that occurs when the disc flattens out due to pressure. As a result, it rubs against the spinal cord, causing damage and pain. The spinal cord is responsible for transmitting nerve signals from your dog’s brain to their legs and vice versa.
Most often, dogs suffering from this condition do not show any noticeable signs of discomfort until the problem begins to worsen. There are some instances when affected dogs experience severe pain or swelling immediately after they move but they might not complain of any issues.
In most cases however, your dog might feel slight discomfort whenever you walk them or make them move suddenly (similar to what humans experience). This can be witnessed in cases when their back legs do not seem to have full range of motion as a result of their hip joint being locked in place and other muscles tightening up around it (similar to what humans experience with their lower back).
Since french bulldog puppies are born with their spinal cord fully developed and functional, unlike various other dog breeds which have incomplete spinal cords, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of their symptoms. Most cases of spinal injuries occur when dogs are under the age of two or older than ten years old.
Dogs suffering from this condition usually have a history of experiencing similar issues such as superficial injuries or soft tissue inflammation in the time they were younger but they can also develop problems after experiencing traumatic incidents such as being hit by a car, falling off a ladder or becoming trapped in a trap door.
Symptoms of the French Bulldog Slipped Disc Disease
There are a lot of cases of French Bulldogs being diagnosed with a slipped disc in their back than other dog breeds. The most common symptoms seen in this situation are the following:
Pain in the rear legs
The first symptom to appear is the pain in the rear legs. It may cause a dog to stop moving completely and sit down. The pain can be severe and can feel like it spreads from his/her back to their belly and then on to their front legs.
Dog may also stagger when walking or running
The second symptom is that the dog may stagger when walking or running, this is due to changes in their ability of balance and coordination as a result of pain that occurs in different areas within their body.
Difficulty climbing stairs and jumping
The third symptom is that the dog may find it difficult to climb the stairs and jump or they may not be able to do this at all. It is because there are changes in their ability of balance and coordination as a result of pain that occurs in different areas within their body.
Recurrent hip dysplasia
Recurring hip dysplasia is also one of the most common problems seen in a dog suffering from disc disease. This condition is characterized by the enlargement of the joint and arthritis that develop in this area, causing the hip to fail again and again. The pain caused by this condition often causes a dog to stop walking or running completely, leading to its death.
Tense neck muscles and stifles
Tense neck muscles and stifles is also one of the most common complaints seen in dogs suffering from disc disease. This condition is characterized by a feeling of stiffness in the neck and shoulder area, making it difficult to rise up or turn its head. It also causes pain in the joints that connect your body to your limbs.
Weakness in rear legs
Weakness in rear legs is a common symptom that can be observed when you look carefully at the hind legs of a dog suffering from disc disease. The rear limbs tend to lose their use, become stiff and painful, leading to an inability to walk properly and makes it hard for them to stand up on their own feet, which may cause them to fall over when they attempt to get up from lying down position.
Increased appetite and weight loss
Weight loss is a common symptom that can be seen when you look carefully at the body of an animal suffering from disc disease, especially after the pain has become unbearable for them. The loss of appetite may make it hard for them to eat properly, contributing further to their general weakness as well as causing dehydration if you notice that they are drinking too little water or not drinking at all. Addressing these symptoms should help your dog overcome this condition quickly and effectively before it becomes more severe or develops into something even worse than what it currently is!
Disc disease is not something that occurs overnight. It is relatively slow-progressing and is rarely fatal as long as it is managed properly as it can cause a significant impact upon your dog’s quality of life. The sooner you start treating small alterations in the spine occurring in older dogs, the longer your dog will live with this condition and it will be easier for them to reverse their symptoms through proper treatment and keeping their weight stable.
The severity of IVDD Symptoms
The exact symptoms of disc disease vary from case to case, depending on the severity of the condition. There are different stages of IVDD and each stage is separated by a particular severity level:
While most cases of IVDD are fairly mild and have rather vague symptoms, other cases tend to reach very severe levels and can lead to serious deformities and pain for your dog.
Stage I – Mildness
This stage is the most common form of disc disease. When a dog has mild disease in this stage it will usually lead to some degree of back pain, the first signs of which can start off as a slight wag of the tail or a slight change in posture and gait. Other signs can include stiffness in the hind limbs, stiffness or soreness over the pelvic bones and difficulty rising from lying down on their side or backs.
Mild to Moderate Disc Deformity – In this stage, dogs may have more pronounced pain although there may not be any more obvious symptoms than what you would normally see when your dog is struggling to get up from laying down on their back side. Any pain that your dog feels at this stage is still manageable and should not be causing them too much distress at this point in time. Some dogs with disc disease might even show a willingness to get up from lying down as symptomatic relief can be felt during this level as it allows them to walk without too much difficulty and help maintain normal movement patterns whilst being on their hind legs.
Stage III – Moderate Disc Deformity
At this level you should see problems worsen quickly and significantly with an increase in pain levels, stiffness or soreness of the hind limbs, spreading into other areas such as swelling over the chest area, worsening gait abnormalities and eventually even loss of muscle tone (floppy muscles) around neck regions where they normally have very deep comfort. Whilst some dogs might be able to maintain a level of pain relief at this point, it would still be advisable for your dog to visit a veterinary surgeon if you notice any worsening symptoms.
Stage IV – Severe Disc Deformity
This is the final stage of disc disease and involves significant progression in symptoms and effects on your pet’s mobility, pain levels and general welfare. The hind limbs will become extremely stiff with painful muscle spasms causing them to become completely unresponsive which is typically accompanied by incoordination and difficulty walking along flat surfaces (where there are no steps available). Dogs will begin to drag their rear quarters along the ground as they try to move around with severely limited movement while even standing will become increasingly difficult as muscle spasms continue getting increasingly worse.
Stage V – Disc Deformity With Postural Changes
If the damage to your dog’s disc is substantial and having a significant impact on their posture, there may be some mild to moderate changes in the shape of their back and spine with noticeable deformities that can result in your dog falling over where they often walk.
How to treat the French Bulldog Slipped Disc Disease?
Now that you have diagnosed the signs and symptoms of your dog’s slipped disc problem, you need to start treating it. There are a number of different treatments available depending on the severity of the problem and severity (or extent) of the symptoms your dog is exhibiting, and these can range from non-invasive non-pharmacological to therapeutic (e.g. painkillers), semi-pharmacological (e.g. antiinflammatory medications) and pharamcological treatments (e.g. nerve blocks, restoratives).
It is important to keep in mind that you will likely be able to treat your dog’s symptoms at home with a variety of non-medicinal approaches such as pain management through dietary changes, exercise and other in alleviating stress and anxiety levels that can often dramatically improve the chances of resolving their condition quickly (although it will still require some intervention).
Physical Therapy Methods
Therapeutic techniques used by physical therapists (PT) such as deep tissue massage, heat therapy, cold therapy and electrical stimulation techniques can be very effective in relieving inflammation and pain.
Physical therapy is based on the use of exercise machines and therapeutic equipment such as vibrating devices for massaging sore muscles, ice poultice for reducing inflammation and sponges for moistening skin.
Homeopathic & Naturopathic Treatments
There are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies (which can be found in most grocery stores) that may help to alleviate symptoms. In some cases such as tendinitis, these natural remedies may effectively work on the basis of stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms by providing adequate nutrition to the muscles and reducing pain.
Usually, the best course of treatment that you can do is to attack the source of the pain and inflammation: the joint. Anti-inflammation medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can effectively help relieve pain and inflammation by reducing swelling in tissues.
What are the risks of ignoring a slipped disc in French bulldogs?
As French bulldogs are small dogs, it is easy to overlook a slipped disc. A slipped disc feels like a pull within the back or a pain in the leg. Often, it goes unnoticed until after a few weeks of the injury. In most cases, the dog may experience pain and discomfort in its back or hind legs.
The joint can become irritated by inflammation, which may cause further damage to the cartilage surrounding the joint if left unattended to. The cartilage material surrounding each vertebra can also wear down over time and lead to arthritis of the joints, which is common among older dogs as well as pets with began regular use of joints such as those on their backs and hips. arthritis carries an elevated risk of infection, so if your dog has sustained an injury that has not healed properly—if you notice any inflammation or signs of infection—it is important that he be examined by his veterinarian immediately. Once a slip causes damage to the cartilage tissue surrounding the joint, it may result in further degeneration and eventual fracture of one or more bones within that joint (brittle fracture).
Is surgery an option for the French bulldog with a slipped disc?
If the condition is severe, it might be advisable to consider an operation to remove the torn portion of cartilage and stabilize the joint. The surgery will serve as a preventative measure if your dog should suffer an injury in the future, but it may also be useful in helping to relieve pain and inflammation from other conditions.
How long can I wait before getting my dog an MRI scan for a slipped disc?
If your dog’s condition was caused by a slip-and-fall, you can allow the condition to heal on its own. This means that he will not need any medical treatment at this stage. With proper care and attention, the condition could continue to improve without further intervention. If your dog has sustained an injury in an industrial accident, however, it is highly important that he be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible so that he may be examined and treated for any of the injuries sustained during the incident.
Slipped disc disease is a very common problem among older dogs. Many dog owners are not aware of the seriousness of this condition, and some might think that their pet has just a minor problem. We hope this blog post has enlightened you to the anatomical realities of the condition and to what should immediately be done when your dog suffers from it.
If you have a question about this condition, please feel free to ask us in the comments section below. We will be more than happy to help.