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How Long Can A Dog Live With Degenerative Disc Disease?

Our furry friends bring the biggest happiness and joy to our lives. Looking at them grow, learn some tricks, show love and affection is everything we need to start a joyous day. However, dogs are babies. They can’t really tell when they’re in pain, what they hurt, and need.

Seeing your pup in pain, not in a mood for playing, is heartbreaking, but if you start diagnosing and addressing the problem on time, you might bring your pup back to its natural habitat in no time.

Today, I would like to talk about one of the most common and painful diseases found in dogs: degenerative disk disease.

Even though the disease might not be fatal itself, the unrelieved pain could lead to unfortunate outcomes. How long can a canine stay with degenerative disc disorder? Let’s discuss.

(Check out our further dog care and health tips on the Loobani website)

What Is Disc Disease In Dogs?

The spinal cord is one of the most important and sensitive organs in the dog’s body. Once damaged, the nerve cells can not regenerate, and they are replaced by fibrous tissue. As a result, injuries often result in permanent damage.

Degenerative disc disease in dogs means loss of disc function. Discs are stretchable tissues between the tiny bones that form the spine or vertebrae. The tissue supports your dog’s back and allows it to move up and down or sideways while preventing contact between the spine’s bones.

As a result, the degeneration can result in the discs being unable to support and cushion the spine’s bones. When this happens, your puppy will be swollen, painful, and unable to move.

How Long Can A Dog Live With Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease Dogs Symptoms

As much as the disc degeneration can cause no symptoms, it can lead to significant pain as well. The pain may be so severe that the dog cannot continue their daily activities. So, the disease can develop even without us noticing anything.

The condition starts with damage to the spine, but symptoms can affect other parts of the body over time. Symptoms usually worsen with age.

Discomfort associated with degenerative disc disease could be mild or severe. It can lead to osteoarthritis, back pain, and stiffness.

Generally, dogs with degenerative disc disease will express these symptoms:

  • back or neck pain
  • any form of lameness
  • Barking and grumblingwhen you try to touch or hold them
  • Inability to fully lift the head
  • Stiffness or hunched back
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weak or clumsyfour limbs
  • trembling or panting
  • Immobility or difficulty breathing

Symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease look terrible and horrifying but don’t worry, we will help your pup out.

Causes Of Degenerative Disc Disease In Dogs

You might ask: What is the origin of the disease? How does it start?

Actually, according to vets, degenerative disc disease is not an official disease, but it occurs naturally with age.

Rubber discs between the vertebrae often allow the back to bend and flex, acting as a shock absorber. Over some time, they wear out and no longer provide as much protection as before.

Supplements For Dogs With Degenerative Disc Disease

Dogs with degenerative disc disease require special supplements and food to fight against the disease. Veterinarians recommend your dog eat a moderate fat and carbohydrates diet, which would also be relatively high in protein. These ingredients help your furry buddy’s organism to promote muscle mass without putting the dog at risk of becoming obese.

Of course, the dog’s food intake must be closely monitored and adjusted.

Several nutritional supplements, like green-lipped mussels, glucosamine, chondroitin, are also worth considering, as they help maintain cartilage health.

Treatment For Degenerative Disc Disease In Dogs

Treatment for dogs with degenerative disc disease is based on the stage of the disease. Stage I disc disease produces mild pain that usually resolves on its own within a few days. Stage II degenerative disc disease will cause severe neck or lumbar spine area pain.

If your dog has already entered the Stage III disc disease phase, then he likely has symptoms of partial paralysis, difficulty while walking, or uncoordinated movements. Stage IV disc disease can cause paralysis, but sensory abilities are present. However, these stages tend to overlap in some dogs. Also, note that depending on your dog’s general health and age, he may move from one stage to another within a few hours to a few days.

Dogs with stage II and III diseases must receive intensive crate sitting and dog medical treatment, such as pain relievers.

If pain or lack of coordinated movement continues after four to seven days of treatment, vets will likely consider the surgery. There is no pain relief unless the dog is forced to be wholly confined to a crate or cage. If the pain goes away completely, the dog is more likely to develop a complete disc rupture and paralysis. The length of the confinement period depends on several factors.

Is Surgery Necessary?

Surgery plays a significant role while dealing with advanced disc disease in old dogs in the last paralyzes stage. Both stages 4 and 5 of degenerative disc disease in dogs cause paralysis. However, stage four results in paralysis, but your dog retains its sensory abilities.

While dogs with stage 4 disease usually require surgery, some recover without surgery.

Dogs in stage five should immediately get surgery, as paralysis in this stage is severe and can cause loss of sensation. Surgery should be performed within 24 hours of the onset of paralysis.


Alternative treatments for degenerative disc disease in dogs for early stages could be physical therapy, massage, hydrotherapy, and exercise and stretching. Once you notice the issue, make a vet appointment and wait for further notes to eliminate the problem from the beginning.

How Long Can A Dog Live With Degenerative Disc Disease?

Caring For Dogs With Degenerative Disc Disease After Surgery

Let’s say your dog went through the surgery, he’s alive, feeling a bit dizzy, but the operation went successfully. How are you supposed to take care of a post-surgery dog?

After surgery, your dog will stay in the hospital for up to seven days. Bladder and bowel control tend to be lost when dogs are paralyzed, so it is best to regain control of these functions before going home.

It is better not to leave your dog at the hospital for more than seven days, as regaining the walking ability much depends on exercise and motivation. Since motivation is an important part of the recovery process, visits are encouraged to begin the day after surgery. Go ahead and ask to arrange your visit after the surgery.

Also, remember that if the paralysis was present before surgery, your dog might not be able to walk when discharged, it is natural. Your dog will gradually get back his senses.

Recovery depends on several primary factors: How permanent was the damage before surgery, how promptly was the surgery done, how fast you start physical therapy at home for your dog, and how well is your dog motivated.

Degenerative Disc Disease Dogs Life Expectancy

Certain dog breeds appear to be genetically predisposed to the disease, but scientists don’t know if the disease is inherited.

Breeds with short, curvy legs and long backs, such as Dachshunds and Pekingese, appear at higher risk for the disease than other dog breeds.

Overall, the disease itself does not have to be fatal. However, it might be painful and lead to the paralyzes of your dog.

So, can a dog die from degenerative disc disease? Technically, yes, but your dog will live long as soon as you address the issue and start treatment.

Can Degenerative Disc Disease In Dogs Reoccur?

If you and your dog have defeated this dreadful disease without the surgery, congrats! However, in this case, the problem might reoccur. So, your dog will need to be under constant supervision, and once you notice any pain signs, you should immediately make a vet appointment.

Meanwhile, if your doggo successfully recovered from the surgery, it’s very unlikely the disc to get collapse again. So, no worries about it, don’t overdose exercising after the first several months, let the disc get healed, and let your dog enjoy a pain-free life.


Degenerative dog disease is a pretty terrible diagnosis for both humans and our pets, but what can we do? Unexpected happens. Just make sure to act fast as soon as you notice any back pain symptoms in your dog.

You’ll soon see your dog running in the yard shortly.

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