Spondylosis and Spondylitis


Spondylosis and Spondylitis are both degenerative conditions causing arthritis of the spine.  Spondylosis often occurs as a secondary condition to degenerative disease of the vertebral disc and is characterized by the formation of bony spurs called osteophytes between the weakened joints of the spine.  These form to strengthen and stabilize the joints.


Spondylosis can occur due to the dog’s inherited disposition to bone spurs, it may form as the result of a major trauma, or following repeated microtrauma to one area of joints or bones.  Natural, age associated degeneration of the intervertebral discs or other damage to the intervertebral discs trigger the growth of osteophytes to return stability to the spinal column.


Spondylitis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints of the spinal column.  It can be caused by either a bacterial or a fungal infection, that causes swelling, inflammation, and bone deformities.  These deformities can put pressure on the spinal column as it runs through the vertebrae.


Bitches that have carried multiple pregnancies, excessive scarring in neutered bitches and other abdominal surgery can all weaken the abdominal wall, putting more pressure on the spine to stabilize


Long backed breeds, such as the Dachshund have a genetic predisposition to spondylosis and spondylitis.

Similar to arthritis of the hip, dogs with spondylosis may present with stiffness and/or restricted motion, but many display no symptoms unless there is a fracture of the bony spurs.  Often the bony spur growth can be felt, before the dog shows any symptoms at all.


If a bone spur develops close to the nerve root, it can out pressure on the nerve, and this can cause pain and lameness.  Other symptoms to look for include stiffness, a change in gait, reduction in the range of motion or lameness.  Some dogs suffer neck pain, back pain and even a reluctance for the back to be touched.  There may be weakness and/or numbness in the limbs and the dog may display ataxia.   


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