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Discospondylitis in Dogs… What is it? And how much will it cost to fix?

Discospondylitis is basically spondylitis in dogs, which is a spinal cord problem impacting almost every moment of the dog’s life. Thankfully, it’s treatable, but it’s good to learn everything you need to know about diskospondylitis so you can help your dog asap.

What is Discospondylitis?

To start, the word has two spellings: discospondylitis or diskospondylitis, but of course they mean the same thing. Basically, the soft spongy stuff between vertebrae or the vertebrae itself swells from infection, thus causing the dog’s back to curve in an unnatural way.

Clinical Signs of Diskospondylitis

If your dog has a spinal cord problem that you suspect could be discospondylitis, these are some of the symptoms you may see in your dog:

  • General back pain.
  • Weakness or unwillingness to walk.
  • A hunched or curved back,
  • Neck stiffness; not reacting too fast to movements in peripheral vision is one way to tell.
  • Uncoordinated movements.
  • Shaking or tremors.

There are a lot of variations of symptoms, but since the back impacts most movement, any kind of change in the way your dog walks, rises, or moves could be due to this problem.

How does your dog get spondylitis?

There are two ways that this will happen: bacteria or fungus.

A bacterial infection could be caused by a number of bacteria types such as:

  • Brucella canis,
  • Proteus spp,
  • Streptococcus spp,
  • Etc…

A fungal infection of the spinal cord could be caused by these three types of fungi:

  • Scedosporium apiospermum,
  • Paecilomyces variotii,
  • Aspergillus terreus,

But how doses your dog get exposed to any of these bacterial and fungi that invade the vertebral column?

It can happen due to contamination of wounds or as a post-operative infection. It could also happen as the result of a urinary tract infection. There are a few breeds that are more likely to get spondylitis and they are:

Other than that, there isn’t usually a genetic component to this disease.

Diagnosing Discospondylitis in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog has discospondylitis then the only one who can really do the diagnosis is a vet. Usually, he or she will have to rule out a few other possible conditions such as:

  • Invertebral disk disease: this is also referred to as herniated di cos thoracolumbar disc disease
  • And back pain without neurologic signs could be due to this.

Tests for Diagnosis

To accurately diagnose discospondylitis in dogs a vet will probably use:

  • Blood cultures and tests.
  • X-rays.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – a contrast may be injected into the disc space to give the vet a clearer look.
  • Bone biopsy

Your vet will also give your dog a neurological examination to look for any neurological deficits in your dog.

During diagnosis the vet will likely tell you which vertebrae or intervertebral space is infected. For example, he or she may tell you it’s involving the one or more endplates.

Treatment Plan

The way your vet treats your dog’s discospondylitis will depend on the cause of your dog’s discospondylitis. If it is a bacterial infection, then your dog is likely to get antibiotics. Antibiotic therapy will normally take weeks for your dog to fully recover.

However, a fungal infection will be fought with antifungal medications. While your dog is recovering, the vet is likely to give him/her anti-inflammatory medication to ease spinal pain and other discomfort. In the case of some deep wounds or lesions near the spine, surgery may be necessary.

During Recovery it’s important to:

  • Let your dog rest as much as possible so as not to further stress the back.
  • Feed your dog a healthy diet as advised by the veterinarian.
  • Check any wounds for problems.

Cost of Treatment for Discospondylitis

The cost is relative to the severity. If your dog’s in a really bad state and needs surgery, it’s going to be a few thousand dollars. Even if he needs to get a bone biopsy, that can hundreds of dollars just for diagnosis. All in all, getting diagnosis and treatment could be $300-5000!

But Remember:

We here at IndulgeYourPet aren’t doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be very passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

Which is why…

In addition to always recommending folks to take their pets to the vet any time they feel that there is something wrong with them, we here at IndulgeYourPet are also BIG fans of certain pet insurance policies.

This way…

If your pet does become sick or injured and does require the care of a veterinarian, you are going to be on the “hook” for 100% of the potentially expensive care he or she will need.

Now will a pet insurance policy be “right” for everyone?

No, it probably won’t.  But until you know what these policies will and won’t cover, and until you know how much they actually cost, how will you ever know if one might be “right” for you?

For more information about who we “feel” currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry right now, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Talia March 7, 2019, 3:28 pm

    How likely is it that a dog with disko will walk again once her back legs are knuckling and weak?

    • indulgeyourpet March 8, 2019, 3:35 pm


      That’s a tough question to answer because there are so many variables that can come into play such as the specific breed and age of the dog. Additionally, because we’re just a bunch of pet owners and not “experts” or veterinarians, we always hesitate to say how well a dog will or won’t do once exposed to a particular disease.

      Our advice would therefore be, if you do have a dog in your life that is suffering from discospondylitis is be sure to have one or two different vets check him or her out. This way you can get the honest opinion of several experts and be able to plan your treatment for your loved one accordingly.



      • Rigo c August 11, 2021, 4:27 pm

        My dog has had this illness for about 6 months, it really difficult to treat and he has good days and not so good days it’s been 3 months and he shows very little improvement Aspergillus is the infection he has and it seems to be one of the most difficult to treat. Cost is very very high I’ve spent over 10,000 on his treatment and every vet visit is a minimum of 1,000 dollars I love my dog and wishing he will
        Recover. He is also on strong pain medications for the pain

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