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Cervical Ventral Slot Procedure in Dogs

Unfortunately for dogs, disc disease is quite a common problem –  especially in smaller dogs such as miniature dachshunds and Shih Tzus. Cervical (neck) disc disease accounts for about 15% of all canine disc herniations.

When a dog suffers from this disease, it could potentially lead to muscle weakness, neurologic disorder, paresis or in the worst case scenario; it could completely paralyze the dog.

How does a dog get intervertebral disc disease?

There are some breeds of dogs such as the miniature dachshund that can generate this disease in their early adult life. For most breeds of dogs, they tend to suffer from this disease when they are old or when they are in a degenerative condition.

What is intervertebral disc disease?

A common spinal disease, intervertebral disc disease is known to affect dogs. Except for the first two cervical vertebrae, between every other vertebrate is an intervertebral disc that acts as a cushion. These intervertebral discs are supportive, allow movement and they also absorb any shock that the spine takes.

When a dog has this spinal disease, the discs begin to degenerate, and movements can become harder for the dog. Less shock will be able to be absorbed and eventually this could result in spinal cord compression or disc herniation.

There are two common types of intervertebral disc disease:

Type I – (Nucleus pulposus degeneration and extrusion) Smaller breeds of dogs or dogs that have disproportionately short limbs which are two years old or over are more likely to suffer from Type I of this disc disease. However, larger dog breeds can still be affected. When a dog has Type I disc disease, they can suffer from a herniated disc. In the spine of a dog who is not suffering from disc disease, their intervertebral discs are soft and allow the movement of the vertebrae.

The intervertebral discs in a dog with disc disease are no longer compressible, and they become hard. Due to this, movements such as twisting put an enormous strain on the discs and they can tear, allowing the nucleus pulposus to spill out. A dog with Type I disc disease will show signs that range from pain to being paralyzed – veterinary attention is imperative.

Type II – (Annulus fibrosus degeneration and protrusion) When a dog suffers from Type II disc disease, the effects are similar to disc disease in humans. Type II disc disease is more common in dogs that do not have short limbs that are disproportionate to their body (non-chondrodystrophic). The outer part of the intervertebral disc, the annulus, bulges and can sometimes tear making the spinal cord compressed.

Signs that your dog has Type II disc disease are very similar to the symptoms of Type I. If your dog looks stiff, has a hunched back, or does not want to jump, climb or exercise, it may have disc disease. Seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Will your dog need surgery and what does it entail?

When a dog has disc disease, surgery doesn’t always have to be the answer. If your dog is only mildly affected by disc disease, rather than having neurosurgical procedures, conservative treatment can be an option. This method may involve the use of prednisone, muscle relaxants, and nonsteroidal medications.

With the conservative treatment, your dog will have to have exercise restrictions, as if your pet is too overly active while suffering from disc disease, it could cause further damage. Conservative treatment is not always successful with all dogs; if the disease is affecting the cervical area or neck, surgery may be needed to see improvement.

If your dog is severely affected by the disc disease, an MRI, CT scan or myelogram will be carried out. If the images show that your dog has spinal cord compression, it will have to undergo surgery. The Arkansas Veterinary Surgery Center performs a Cervical ventral slot procedure if the disc is in the cervical spinal cord area.

When this process is carried out, the underside of the neck is opened up to allow the surgeons access to the cervical vertebrae. An opening using a surgical drill is created in the spinal column – this is a critical step as the size of the hole needs to be perfect. If the hole is too big, destabilization of your dog’s cervical spinal column can be caused.

Post-Op Care

When your dog has undergone a cervical ventral slot procedure, they need to have care 24/7 as pain and urinary bladder management will need to be administered. It’s best to leave your dog at the vets with all of the professional staff who will be on hand to help at all times – dogs often stay in the care of the hospital for 2-4 days.

Get Professional Veterinary Help Today

The Arkansas Veterinary Surgery Center is a regional referral surgery center for orthopedic surgery on dogs, cats, and some exotic species. We are part of South County Animal Hospital in Greenwood, Arkansas.  Our chief surgeon is Dr. Mark E. Sharp a graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University.  We do both mobile surgery at your regular vet’s office and surgeries at our hospital.  If you have a pet in need of a skilled surgeon for cervical ventral slot, neurological procedures or orthopedic procedures call us at 479-996-6095

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Advanced Veterinary Surgery & Rehabilitation


71 Colt Square Fayetteville, AR 72703

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Saturday, and Sunday: closed