Spondylosis deformans in dogs is a chronic condition of the spine in which bone spurs form along the vertebrae as a result of disk inflammation and degeneration. The disk inflammation is due to a bacterial or fungal infection. This condition is also referred to as spondylitis, which means "an inflammation of the spine." Though the condition hinders the dog's range of motion permanently, the dog can continue to live a relatively normal life with proper treatment. The method of treatment is dependent on the type of spondylitis.
Minor Bacterial or Fungal Spondylitis
The usual treatment for bacterial spondylitis, the most common form of spondylitis, is the administration of antibiotics. Early in treatment, the dog also may need pain medication to lessen the painful effects of the bone spurs.
Serious Bacterial or Fungal Spondylitis
Sometimes dogs develop more serious cases of spondylitis, which are too pervasive to treat with antibiotics alone. In these cases, veterinarians treat the dogs with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and analgesics (pain killers). If this course of treatment does not work, surgery is often required to relieve pressure on the spine. Following the surgery, dog owners must restrict dogs' exercise and provide physiotherapy lasting from six weeks to six months.
The most severe spondylitis occurs in older dogs, and may be a genetic condition or simply a side effect of ageing. It is a type of osteoarthritis and is treated similar to serious bacterial or fungal spondylitis, with pain medication, muscle relaxants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery may be required, and restriction of the dog's movement is always required.