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Spondylosis Deformans in dogs and cats

What is it?

Spondylosis is where bone spurs or osteophytes that are calcium deposits and attempted new bone growth grow from the spine. This is due to the abnormal movement and wear to the Thoracic vertebra (between shoulder blade), Lumbar spine (lower spine), Lumbosacral spine (Spine around hips). This is believed to be a physiological response to when the intervertebral discs that act as a cushion between each vertebra degenerate or are damaged. It does not usually cause inflammation to the region.

Who is at risk?

Although large breeds can be more susceptible from a younger age, all breeds are at risk from 10 years old. Cats with the degenerative condition will begin to develop by age 10 also.

What causes it?

Genetics and age are the most common causes and is often a secondary complication related to the vertebral discs. Injury and age-inappropriate extensive exercise or work can also be triggering factors for bone spurs and Osteophytes, these can occur with or without an inflammatory response, which can determine the primary cause of the spurs.

Main Symptoms

Limited flexibility and restricted ROM (range of motion)

Pain and lameness may appear if the bone spur has grown near the nerve root and is putting pressure on the nerve. The dog or cat may cry, move away or react when being touch near the area.


A Diagnosis must be performed by a registered veterinary practitioner which should include a full physical exam, blood work, urinalysis and electrolyte panel to also rule out other disease. Diagnosis will also likely include radiographs, myelogram, MRI or referral to orthopedic specialist.

Common treatments

Most dogs and cats will not appear in pain from Spondylosis, if they do present with pain, they may be prescribed NSAIDs (Non- Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) or other analgesics. Physical Therapy, weight loss and controlled exercise programs may also be recommended. Sometimes surgery can be performed to remove spurs and osteophytes.

Holistic Treatments

MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane)

A crystalline Organic Sulfur derivative of DMSO that Reduces Pain and inflammation, MSM is a Calcium Phosphate dissolver has the ability to dissolve some types of bone spurs and osteophytes that are calcified deposits. MSM also works on a cellular level meaning that any changes can be made very early on in growth stages of cells, it increases Collagen production within the body, and is highly bioavailable and can begin taking affect within 1 hour of consumption. MSM also has shown to assist in detoxification of the organs and body.

Green Lipped Mussel, Blue Lipped Mussel, Sardines, salmon, anchovies -

Are all good sources of Omega 3 foods and will have DHA, DPA and EPA. Green Lipped Mussels have also shown to reduce oxidative stress, which then can slow down the degradation processes for the entire body. So, it is important to use antioxidants through an animal’s entire life. Using Green Lipped Mussels your pet will also gain the important benefits of high Vitamin and Mineral content many are acquired from raw foods in smaller amounts and almost nonexistent in processed foods.

Magnesium and Vit D to assist absorption of Calcium.

Vit D can help decrease cartilage degradation, dogs can not absorb this through the sun and need to absorb it through food. Increasing the ability to absorb calcium can allow it to continue flowing and not build up throughout the body. Magnesium is good for pain relief including nerve pain and inflammation and also works closely with Calcium. I do not recommend adding extra calcium to a diet of an animal with spondylosis without consulting a veterinarian first.

Vitamin C

Adding Vit C to a diet can encourage collagen production as it is the bodies precursor to Collagen. Kakadu plum is one of the highest and most bioavailable sources of vitamin C, also rosehips are another option for animals and are likely used naturally in the wild for canines, they are with Equine.

Collagen -

Studies suggest that inflammation increases enzymes that can destroy collagen, good sources of collagen are shark cartilage and Marine cartilage. You can also make a slow cooked bone broth, this strips the collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin from the bone and produces higher quality and as a liquid is easily absorbed. The head and eyes are high in collagen in fish. Sugar and refined carbs such as kibble can damage collagen within the body.

Detoxification -

Such as Milk Thistle can help with eliminating excess toxins, inflammation and support the liver whilst using NSAIDs or other inflammatory medications or foods, MSM also encourages full blood brain barrier detox.

Myo-Manipulative Functional Therapy Massage and Stretching -

Encouraging blood flow allowing oxygen and nutrients to access the site and assist in removal of toxins and unwanted cells in the body. This also helps with regaining regular movement and flexibility. This allows contraction of muscles so that they do not become atrophied as quickly if at all when the dog is currently with limited movement. Bones get nutrients from the blood stream and the cartilage draws it from the synovial fluids which gets it from the blood stream and also transfers waste product back to the blood for cleaning. It is important to keep good circulation and detoxification processes.

Your best physical options -

For dogs predisposed or in early stages; is to keep them moving and gently using training such as Canine Conditioning and fitness classes, Massage, Physiotherapy exercise, swimming or hydrotherapy and light general exercise including steps, Cavaletto poles and light gradients allowing flexibility and strength to continue.

Diet -

Ensuring they always have clean filtered water (rainwater filtered where possible), are kept of a healthy weight and offer BARF (Biologically appropriate raw food) where possible. Barf minimizes inflammatory factors like starch and carbs and increases essential proteins, vitamins and mineral intake which is also something to take into deep consideration when managing muscular Skeletal Changes,

This information is can also be transferred to other spinal and skeletal deformations. Please discuss contraindications with your treating veterinary practitioner prior to beginning holistic and natural treatments.

Written By Chevelle Williams, CMFT, HCN, DipCanCom, DipAniRei, DipMBSR.

Holistic Carnivore Nutritionist and Canine Myo-Manipulative Functional Therapist



This information is not intended to replace veterinary treatment and I recommend all modifications, additions and subtractions to dogs and cats’ diet are to be mentioned or discuss with to your treating Vet especially when already on medications.

For further information on the medical diagnosis of Spondylosis the below addresses provide beneficial information.

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