Surgery time for laminectomy for dogs

Updated July 18, 2017

Disc disease can be painful for a dog and has the ability to cause paralysis. A laminectomy may be a required treatment and should be performed as soon as possible. The time of a laminectomy can vary and the sooner the surgery is done, the better chance there is for recovery.

Disc Disease

Type I disc disease is the most common form of disc disease and is associated with degeneration of the centre of the disc. The disc cannot tolerate normal routines of the dog and may sometime burst out of place in the spine, causing the spine to becoming bruised or even severely damaged, according to Burlington Veterinary Specialists. Some breeds are more prone to disc problems and these include dachshunds, lhasa apsos and Pekinese.

Type II is more common in large breeds of dogs; however, it can occur in all sizes of dogs. This disease is diagnosed when the outer portion of the disc slides into the spinal cavity, putting pressure on the nerves.


Surgery or a laminectomy is typically performed when the dog is in severe pain. The dog may show signs such as falling over or weakness or may become paralysed. Surgery should be done as soon as possible to increase the chance of recovery from the disease.

During a laminectomy, a portion of the vertebra is removed allowing access to the spinal cavity. This gives the surgeon access to the disc that is causing the spinal damage.

A laminectomy is typically performed by a specialist or neurosurgeon, according to the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital website.

Surgery Time

This surgery is difficult and the time it takes to perform a laminectomy is dependent upon whether the disc is in the neck or the back and what type of surgery is performed.

When the disc is on the back, a small hole will be made in the top or the side to remove the disc.

If the disc is in the neck, a hole is made at the bottom of the neck at the disc space.

Clare Rusbridge, a European specialist in veterinary neurology, states that the surgery can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on how complex the surgery is.

After Surgery

Most dogs will be sent home within a few days after the surgery. This will depend on if the dog is able to urinate to show that the bladder is in good health. If the dog is not able to urinate on his own, he may need assistance in doing so, and this can be taught to the owner to do at home.

Home Care

When a dog arrives home after a laminectomy, she will need to be confined and get plenty of rest. She should not jump on or off of furniture or go up or down stair steps. She may need assistance in getting up to walk which can be done with a towel sling.

The dog should have soft bedding to lie in to avoid sores from occurring.


If the dog has sensation in his toes before surgery, he will have a 80 per cent chance of recovery, according to Burlington Veterinary Specialists. Dogs that do not have any sensation in their toes will only have a 50 per cent chance of recovery after surgery. The earlier that the disc disease is detected and surgery is performed, the better chance of recovery the dog has.

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