Spondylosis Deformans (Arthritis in the Back) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Spondylosis Deformans

Spondylosis deformans, commonly referred to as simply spondylosis, is a disease that is characterized by the formation of bony spurs (osteophytes) along the margins of the vertebrae in dogs. It may affect one area or multiple areas of the spine. The bony spurs can bridge from one vertebrae to another in some pets and occur in one or multiple intervertebral disk spaces.

Spondylosis is chronic a condition that occurs most commonly in females than males. Predisposed are large breed middle-aged to older dogs like German shepherds, Boxers, Cocker spaniels and Airedale terriers. Spondylosis is more common in middle-aged to older dogs but any pet can be affected.

Spondylosis is more common in the parts of the spine with the most motility which is the thoracic, lumbar and lumbosacral spinal segments. This is the area over the ribs down to the tail.

What to Watch For with Spondylosis

Most pets are not symptomatic with this disease; however the following can be noted:

Diagnosis of Spondylosis in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize spondylosis deformans and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

Other tests may be completed to determine other conditions that may cause pain and lameness.

Treatment of Spondylosis in Dogs

Treatment for spondylosis deformans is often unnecessary as the pain can be minimal and the disease rarely causes compression of the spinal cord. Supportive care may include one or more of the following:

Home Care and Prevention of Spondylosis

After your dog’s surgery, follow your veterinarian’s specific instructions concerning medications, care and recheck examinations. In most pets with spondylosis deformans, treatment is not indicated.