Spine Degeneration in Dogs

Cecilia de Cardenas
Nov 11, 2008
   |    Share this: 3 min read

Spondylosis Deformans in Dogs

Spondylosis deformans is a degenerative, noninflammatory condition of the spinal column characterized by the production of bone spurs along the bottom, sides, and upper aspects of the vertebrae of the spine. These bone spurs are simply projected growths of bone, usually grown in response to aging, or injury.

In dogs, spondylosis deformans occurs most often along the spine, in the area behind the chest, and on the upper section of the vertebrae of the lower back. Older, large-breed dogs are at highest risk for developing spondylosis deformans. In cats it tends to occur more often in the vertebrae of the chest.

Symptoms and Types

  • Patients are typically asymptomatic, the growth of bone can be felt when touching your pet before you will notice any behavioral changes a result of the growth
  • Pain may follow fracture of bony spurs or bridges
  • Stiffness
  • Restricted motion
  • Pain


  • Repeated microtrauma – repetitive pressure on the same joints, or bones, as through certain exercises or other activities
  • Major trauma – the body responds by attempting to grow new bone
  • Inherited predisposition to spurs


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a biochemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel, in order to rule out or confirm other diseases, like cancer. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background history of symptoms, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition.

X-ray images of the chest and abdomen (side view) are essential for diagnosing spondylosis deformans. X-rays will reveal osteophytes (small, bony growths) on the vertebrae, or in more advanced cases an osteophyte may be found as a bridge in the space between the vertebrae.

Your doctor may choose from several other types of tests in order to arrive at a definitive conclusion. A myelography, which uses injection of a radiopaque substance for internal imaging; computed tomography (CT); or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They can assist your veterinarian in finding where a bony spur might be pressing on your dog's spinal cord or on the nerves (causing neurological reactions).

Related Posts

Spinal Cord Degeneration in Rottweilers

Alex German
Nov 07, 2013

Spinal Cord Disease in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
Mar 16, 2016

Nerve Disorder Affecting Multiple Nerves in Dogs

Cecilia de Cardenas
Jan 19, 2017