Your happy-go-lucky beagle loves to run, track a scent and beg for treats. Beagles are a chondrodystrophic breed, meaning their cartilage is abnormal. They're more likely to encounter back problems than canines without this issue. Your vet can help get your beagle get back on track.
Intervertebral Disk Disease
Intervertebral disk disease is often found in chondrodystrophic breeds. IDD occurs when the soft, rubbery disks between the spinal cord vertebrae lose flexibility and begin sticking out. These disks can also rupture. Usually affecting older beagles, signs of IDD range from mild lameness to paralysis. While IDD may come on gradually, sudden severe pain in your beagle usually indicates a rupture.
Your vet generally makes an IDD diagnosis by MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging. If the damage isn't severe, she might prescribe medication and put your dog on complete rest for a couple of weeks. That means he'll have to stay in a crate or other confined area, being led out on a leash only to pee and poop. In severe cases, surgery may be required for your beagle to walk again and move fairly normally.
Beagle Pain Syndrome
The scientific name for what's commonly called beagle pain syndrome is steroid responsive meningitis arteritis. It received its nickname because the first cases were found in beagles -- but it does affect other breeds. Beagles 6 months old and up are susceptible. Signs of beagle pain syndrome include back pain, fever and limping. Your vet diagnoses beagle pain syndrome through blood tests, MRIs and spinal fluid testing. The syndrome's scientific name comes from the fact that dogs receiving steroid therapy usually obtain relief. Your dog may need to take steroids for a long time. Steroidal treatments may have side effects, but your vet closely monitors your beagle during treatment.
Beagles might also suffer from hip dysplasia due to a malformation of the hip socket. If that's the case, he might go lame and suffer from early-onset arthritis. Depending on the severity of the problem, your vet might prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatories or recommend that your dog undergo surgery to correct the problem.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.