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Intervertebral Disc Disease in Canines

Intervertebral disc disease is a condition that occurs due to a weakening, stiffening, or fraying of one or more discs in your dog’s spine. This causes them to put pressure on the spinal cord. It may occur due to a traumatic event, but more commonly, this condition arises from normal activity, as there is already a weak structure in the spinal region. This condition can result in paraplegia or paralysis in the legs. The amount of deterioration is dependent on the site of disc herniation.

Physiotherapy complements surgical rehabilitation for intervertebral disc cases. Neurological deficits (due to paralysis) are one of the main problems in these cases. Physiotherapy helps to stimulate the neurological pathways of the affected limbs so that signals may transmit up the spinal cord and to the brain effectively. This allows the return of sensation and proprioception to the affected limbs. Once this has returned, strengthening exercises are prescribed to improve movement quality. Therapeutic techniques such as massage are also implemented to reduce pain and promote healing.

Does your dog have intervertebral disc disease?

We can improve your dog’s quality of life with physiotherapy! Our experienced team have many techniques available to show you, either in one of our Sydney centres or via telerehab with Skype.

At Animal Physiotherapy Services, we use a multifaceted approach to promote healing and reduce the time required for rehabilitation. We aim to reduce pain and discomfort, and reduce scar tissue following surgery. We also aim to improve balance, proprioception, strength, range of motion and flexibility. As intervertebral disc disease is often a recurring condition, this approach also allows us to prevent a relapse.

We can also create a ‘prevention plan’ for breeds that are often predisposed to this condition. In this we aim to prevent the development of the condition. This is achieved through active exercises to improve your dog’s strength in all muscle areas, particularly those that support the spinal column. All of our techniques are gentle, science-based, and focus on your dog’s ability so that we achieve the best results.


Research has shown that it is vital to commence physiotherapy as soon after diagnosis as possible to get the best results. It is also essential that the prescribed exercises are performed correctly and frequently enough to achieve the desired effect. At ANIMAL Physiotherapy Services, we ensure that you are completely confident to continue the exercise program at home. We also correspond with our clients via email to ensure the best possible care is provided for your pet.

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