Deforming Spondylosis in BoxersBoxers D'Anteikan


Deforming spondylosis is a degenerative and proliferative disease of the spine characterized by the presence of osteophytes (bony neo-formations) between the vertebra resulting in the formation of bone bridges between the vertebral bodies.

General Considerations and Clinically Relevant Pathophysiology.

It is characterized by the appearance of bony projections in the thoracic, lumbar and lumbar-sacral vertebrae. These projections may be joined by forming bony bridges between adjacent vertebral bodies.


Clinical Presentation

Deforming spondylosis has been described in dogs and cats, usually of middle age, but some before two years of age. The incidence of the disease increases with age. Spondylosis occurs in 50% of dogs 6 years of age and 75% at 9 years of age.

A high incidence has been described in Boxers whose condition is considered hereditary. In this breed, dogs under one year old may be affected.

Females are more affected than Males and there is a positive correlation between the degree of Dysplasia and the onset of deforesting spondylosis.

Heritability appears to be a factor of high susceptibility in some breeds, however the mechanism of disease onset remains to be explained.

The heredity of this degenerative process suggests in some breeds such as Boxer, the radiological diagnosis in order to detect severely affected patients.

A classification scale for the degree of spondylosis was created according to the presence and size of the bone formations.

So we have:

Deforming spondylosis may be associated with degenerative changes, intervertebral disc herniation and lumbosacral stenosis.


Physical Exam Findings


There are usually no characteristic clinical signs of deforming spondylosis.

The clinical signs that affected animals may present are palpation of the spine, claudication of one or more limbs, gait alteration, aggression, depression. Symptoms may be intermittent, but they worsen with the growth of osteophytes. Severely affected animals may have muscle atrophy of the hind limbs since the osteophytes compress the nerves of these muscles. These patients may have changes in reflexes.

Complementary Diagnostic Tests


The diagnosis is radiographic.

Deforming spondylosis is a common radiological finding in elderly dogs, but is rarely associated with clinical signs. Osteophytes usually develop below and alongside the body of the vertebra, and their growth may lead to the formation of bridges in the intervertebral space.
The thoraco-lumbar and lombo-sagrada regions are particularly affected.
When alterations are located in the lumbosacral region, there may be clinical signs of disease in this region (pain, incoordination).

Ideally, at least two ventro-dorsal and one lateral projections should be performed. An oblique projection may sometimes be necessary..


Medical treatment


Treatment of deforming spondylosis is not normally necessary.
However analgesics can be given if there is pain caused by the degenerative process of the spine.

Surgical treatment


Surgery is indicated only in situations where pain and neurological deficits are present by compression of a nerve or spinal cord.




The prognosis of animals with deforming spondylosis is usually very favorable.

Source: Boxer Club of Portugal website.