Can a Dachshund Live with IVDD?

Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD, is more common in dachshunds than in any other breed. If you are a dachshund owner, you might wonder if your dachshund can live with IVDD.

Yes, dachshunds can live happily even with IVDD. IVDD is treatable most of the time, but rarely surgery may not be successful.

But if you detect IVDD at an early stage, your dachshund might not even need surgery.

However, there are certain measurements and precautions you need to take to ensure that your dachshund stays healthy and happy.

How to avoid IVDD in dachshunds?

Here are some ways that can help your dachshund to avoid IVDD.

Keep your dachshund at a healthy weight

The most important thing to reduce the chances of IVDD in your dachshund is to prevent it from becoming overweight.

Extra weight will put a strain on the spine and will increase the risk of IVDD.

Make sure you look after your dog’s diet and nutrition and keep it at the optimum weight.

Handle your dachshund carefully

While picking up your dachshund, make sure that you pick it carefully, supporting both the front and the rear equally. Keep its back as straight as possible.

Avoid playing it rough with your dachshund. Dachshunds love to play but try not to let it get aggressive and too rough.

Try to carry your dachshund every time it needs to use the stairs. You can install puppy gates at the top and bottom of the staircase so that your dachshund doesn’t try to climb by itself.

Use a harness on walks

A harness is better than a neck collar, especially if you are trying to prevent IVDD. A body harness covers the entire body of your dog, distributing the pull of the leash throughout the body, rather than concentrating it on the neck.

Using a body harness will protect your dog’s spinal cord and reduce the risk of IVDD.

Reduce high-impact activities

Try to discourage your dachshund from jumping up and down from furniture.

High-impact activities like running too fast, jumping, or any activity that could put a strain on your dachshund’s spinal cord should be prevented. It might cause the disc in the spine to burst.

Avoid breeding

IVDD is hereditary, so if you know that your dachshund has spinal issues, do not try to breed it. Similarly, if you are adopting it from a breeder, confirm that its parents did not have IVDD.

Don’t fix it too early

If a dachshund puppy is spayed or neutered too early, it could increase the risk of IVDD. Make sure to consult a vet and wait till the right time to fix your dachshund.

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Can dachshunds recover from IVDD without surgical treatment?

Yes, dachshunds can recover from IVDD without surgical treatment. However, the ability of your dachshund to recover without surgery depends on what stage of IVDD it is at.

If IVDD has been detected early on, when your dog’s ability to walk hasn’t been compromised, IVDD recovery is possible without surgery.

But if the IVDD is in later stages and your dog has trouble with walking or bladder and bowel movements, then there is no option for surgery.

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Non-surgical treatments for IVDD

Let us look at a few of the Non-surgical treatments for IVDD

Crate rest

If your dog does not have severe IVDD, it is possible for it to recover without surgery with strict crate rest.

Your dog will need to be strictly confined to its crate or a small room with very limited mobility for at least 4 weeks. The time should be sufficient to give your dachshund’s body time to rest and try to mend the damage.

Anti-inflammatory medications

IVDD will cause pain and swelling in your dog, especially when they try to move. Non-surgical treatment will include steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines to help reduce the pain and swelling.

Combining medication with crate rest and restricted ability can help your dachshund to a great extent.

Dietary care

Dietary care is important to manage the weight of your dachshund. IVDD affects the spinal cord, which is a major body part in supporting the body and enabling movement. Being overweight is also one of the causes of IVDD in some dogs.

Wet food is easier to consume, as it requires less jaw strength for chewing. If you provide your dog with hard food, it will put pressure on its jaw and therefore on its spine, which can be harmful to a dog that already suffers from IVDD.

It is important to consult a good vet to recommend your dog a diet that will not only prevent your dog from adding more weight but will also promote recovery.

Physical therapy

Physical rehabilitation and therapy start with assessing your dog’s condition. This will help the specialist figure out the best therapy for your dog.

The specialist can recommend at-home exercises if the condition is not severe, or professional treatments that will require the specialist to be there.

Surgical treatment

If the damage is too severe, and it comes to a point where the dachshund is paralyzed, conservative treatment may not be enough.

In such cases, surgery is the only option. In emergency surgery, a portion of the vertebrae over the spinal cord is removed.

Sometimes, a dog may not fully recover even after surgery. The sooner you opt for surgery, the better chance your dachshund will have of being able to walk again.

Other methods that can be used with conservative or surgical options are:

  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretches
  • Hydrotherapy

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Why do dachshunds get IVDD?

Dachshunds are bred with the dwarfism gene, or chondrodysplasia, which gives them their characteristically short legs which makes their bodies look longer.

Because of this genetic mutation, their spinal discs start deteriorating at a younger age than other breeds.

Dachshunds support their body on their tiny legs, which puts a strain on their back and spine.

Because of the natural weakness in their backs, dachshunds are more prone than any other breed to suffer from back conditions or IVDD.

At what age can dachshunds get IVDD?

The age at which a dachshund can get IVDD can vary. However, most dachshunds who develop IVDD will show the first signs when they are around 3 to 6 years of age.

Some dachshunds can show signs much earlier, while some can show signs a lot later in life, but most dachshunds develop the signs during their early adult years.

The risk of a dachshund getting IVDD increases as it grows older or gains too much weight.

IVDD emergency for a Dachshund

If your dachshund suddenly becomes limp or paralyzed, you will need to take it to the vet immediately. The sooner you start the operation, the higher the chances of recovery.

Do not delay treatment at all, as it can affect the ability of your dachshund to walk.

When you are on the way to the vet, you can expect the vet to examine the dog and take X-rays.

If your dog is completely paralyzed, the doctor will suggest emergency surgery. They would need an MRI and surgery immediately.

Make sure you have a small crate to carry your dog in so that it does not injure itself on the ride to the hospital.

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD, is a disease that affects your dog’s spinal cord gradually.

Also known as the slip disc, it is the degeneration of intervertebral discs. These discs cushion-like structures separate the vertebra of the dog’s spinal cord.

When the discs degenerate, they become more prone to damage, and any forceful movement can rupture the discs. IVDD can even lead to paralysis.

It is most often seen in small dogs or those with long backs and small legs. IVDD affects 25% of all dachshunds.

What are the symptoms of IVDD?

The symptoms of IVDD can develop gradually or can appear suddenly. Any dog of any breed can develop IVDD, however, some breeds are more prone to it.

There are many symptoms of IVDD, depending on the position of the disc. If the damage to the disc is straight up to the spinal canal, both sides of the body will be affected.

If it is only on one side, only that side will be affected. Some common symptoms of IVDD include:

  • Stiffness of neck or limbs
  • Weakness or pain
  • Back or muscle spasms
  • Hunched back
  • Decrease in activity level
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unable to control bladder
  • Trouble with bowel movement
  • Dragging its feet
  • Inability to raise its tail
  • Strange walk
  • Avoids moving
  • Lowered head
  • Limping
  • Knuckling of paws
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty getting up from the floor
  • Stiffness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tense muscles
  • Anxiety
  • Paralysis

If your dog is paralyzed, it is an emergency situation in which case you should immediately go to the doctor.

Types of IVDD

There are two types of IVDD that can be seen in dachshunds that can develop for different reasons.

Type I

Type I IVDD can be found more prevalently in chondrodystrophic breeds of dogs – dogs that are short in statures, such as the dachshund or the corgi.

This IVDD usually develops at a young age. It occurs in a dog that has a defective development of the cartilage around the discs, along with shorter legs compared to the rest of their body.

The discs along the vertebral column harden, which leads to less flexibility. This means that any accidental movement if it causes a forceful impact on the disc, can cause it to rupture. The inner material of the disc bursts out of the disc.

Type II

Type II IVDD is usually found in older dogs. This type of IVDD affects larger dogs more often, but it can be found in dachshunds as well.

It is described as disc calcification over a longer period. As your dog ages, the disc becomes hard and fibrous. It eventually bulges out and compresses the spinal cord.

When the nerves in the spinal cord are compressed, they are unable to send signals to the respective body parts. Severe damage can also paralyze your dog. It will depend on where the bulging disc is located.

5 stages of IVDD

Here are the 5 stages of IVDD

Stage-1: Your dachshund has neck or back pain, but it can walk properly.

Stage-2: Your dachshund can walk, but it might show deficits such as knuckling of paws, uncoordinated muscles or walking weirdly. It could also stumble while walking.

Stage-3: Your dachshund can move its legs, but might not be able to stand or walk on its own without any help.

Stage-4: Your dachshund cannot move its legs, or might become paralyzed waist-down.

Stage-5: Your dachshund is paralyzed and cannot feel any pain in its toes.