Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition that occurs when pressure is placed on the spinal cord by disc material that herniates beneath or adjacent to the cord. It may be an acute or chronic condition in dogs.

The exact cause of disc degeneration is unknown but may be due to a change in the content of the disc material. When the disc involved is in the mid-portion or thoracolumbar area of the spine, the front legs are not affected but the back legs may be affected to varying degrees. Signs include mild back pain only or, in severe cases, complete paralysis of the rear legs.

Some breeds are prone to intervertebral disc disease such as the dachshund, Lhasa apso and Pekingese. IVDD most commonly occurs when animals are between three and seven years of age.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Intervertebral disc disease is generally diagnosed by a thorough history and physical examination including neurologic exam. X-rays of the spine and myelogram are needed to definitively diagnose spinal cord compression.
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Medical therapy consists of rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Some dogs benefit from muscle relaxants. Surgical treatment may be recommended, particularly if the signs are severe or there is no response to medical therapy. Surgery involves removing the herniated disc. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:

  • Back pain
  • Reluctance to play
  • Yelping when handled, petted or lifted
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Walking drunk
  • Inability to walk or paralysis


*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

Dear Valued Clients

During these challenging times, there have been some unforeseen changes at The Big Easy Animal Hospital. I cannot express enough my sincere apology for any inconvenience you have experienced at The Big Easy during these times. As we strive to make the practice safe to protect everyone including you, your family, and our Big Easy team and their families, I’ve decided to make certain changes while we are under this pandemic. These changes will be temporary.


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
Walk Ins: Check-in starts at 9:45am.There are a limited amount of patients we can accept. Our receptionists will be happy to assist you with options to help guide you and your pet(s).)


Saturday Hours

Saturdays will be TECHNICIAN APPOINTMENTS only. These will include boosters, bloodwork, nail trims, certain diagnostics, etc. There will not be a veterinarian on site. While I understand these changes can be inconvenient, I have listed local veterinary clinics that we have contacted and are open to see walk-ins throughout the week and Saturdays as well. For life threatening emergencies that occur outside business hours, please contact the following 24-hour animal hospitals below.

Please, be safe and healthy.

Thank you all for your understanding. -Aileen Ruiz, DVM


24 Hour Emergency Care:


Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center

807 Camp Horne Road
Pittsburgh, PA



4224 Northern Pike
Monroeville, PA

VCA Castle Shannon Animal Hospital

3610 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA

Veterinarians Accepting Walk in Care:

Penn Animal Hospital

2205 Penn Avenue

North Boros Veterinary Hospital

2255 Babcock Blvd



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