Canine Spine Anatomy

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The canine spine is remarkably similar to the human spine and subject to just as many problems and disorders. Learning the anatomy of a dog's spine helps identify these problems and disorders, allowing pet owners to seek treatment accordingly.

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A dog's spine is designed to support weight and protect the spinal cord, which transmits messages to and from the brain and throughout the body.



A dog's spine is located along the top, or dorsal, side of a dog's body. It runs from the base of the head to the end of the tail.


The canine spinal column is separated into four main regions: cervical (neck spine), with seven vertebrae; thoracic (mid-back spine), 13 vertebrae; lumbar (lower back), seven vertebrae; and sacral (pelvic spine), three vertebrae.



Between the vertebrae, there are fleshy disks of cartilage known as the intervertebral disks. Dogs have 28 disks in their spine that allow the vertebrae to move but that also hold them together. Intervertebral disks also provide cushioning for the bony vertebrae.


There are 28 openings, or intervertebral foramina, located throughout the spine that surround spinal nerves and allow the passage of blood vessels into and out of the spinal region.



The meninges are fibrous membranes that protect the spinal cord, which runs the length of the spine.

By Elizabeth Tumbarello

"Canine Anatomy"; Bonnie J. Smith; 1999
"Color Atlas of Veterinary Anatomy Volume 3: The Dog and Cat"; Stanley H. Done; 1996
"Radiography in Veterinary Technology"; Lisa M. Lavin; 2007
Washington State University: Nervous System Anatomy


About the Author
Elizabeth Tumbarello has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites. She is an animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society. Tumbarello attended Hocking College and is pursuing her Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology from San Juan College.