So we are sure by this stage if you’ve found yourself on our blog, you have heard of this thing called Intervertebral Disc Degeneration or ‘IVDD’. Cheeky Charlie believe knowledge is power and thought it was timely to pull together some great information for you all to be best informed to tackle the risk of IVDD through your doggos life.
What just is this IVDD business?
IVDD is a genetic disorder that effects the spinal cord over time, but might not be apparent or show any warning signs until there is a trigger. A dog that is completely healthy to the naked eye, could jump or fall in a direction that causes a disc to be ruptured. IVDD is a gradual process over time, with the fall or jump usually being the final straw to bring on the acute phase of the disease.
The disease is caused when the cushioning discs (which function like shock absorbers) between the vertebrae of the spinal column begin to harden. Eventually, they may harden to the point that they can no longer adequately cushion the spinal vertebrae. Consequently, a forceful jump or bad landing can cause a disc (or discs) to burst and press into the nerves running through the spinal cord. This can be painful and cause nerve damage and has the risk to cause paralysis.
Alternatively, the hardening of the discs can eventually cause them to bulge and compress the spinal cord. This can damage the nerve impulses such that bladder and bowel control can be impaired, in addition to potentially causing paralysis.
Prevention is key! As with any medical condition, prevention is always better than treatment. Follow these key measures to help avoid IVDD:
- Minimise jumping - have a dog ramp available for access to furniture
- Well balanced diet
- Use a harness when going for walks to reduce the stress placed on the neck
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Careful handling - always support the rear legs when picking up your dog
Checklist of IVDD Symptoms
- Increased sensitivity to movement or touch
- Stiffness of neck, limbs, or back
- Dragging rear leg(s)
- Obvious weakness or pain
- Lowered head when standing
- Back/muscle spasms
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you notice any of the IVDD symptoms, it is vital you see a vet immediately. Restrict all movement by placing your dog in a crate or small area. It is important you see a specialist vet as soon as possible as the earlier you can seek treatment results in the likelihood of your dog being able to walk again.
Depending on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord, treatment for IVDD can range from conservative care; including crate confinement and prescribed medication to reduce the pain and swelling, through to surgical treatment.
There are also a range of other methods for treating IVDD including:
- Physical therapy exercises
Where to get help
Despite all preventative methods, in some cases your dog may still develop IVDD as unfortunately 1 in 4 dachshunds currently experience the disease. All hope is not lost however, as we are very fortunate to have some fantastic health professionals and support services available if surgery or treatment is required.
We recommending heading to ivdd.org.au for a range of resources including vets, specialists and support aids. There is also a wealth of further information if you need deeper detail about IVDD.
We hope this helps you understand IVDD in more depth. Remember – prevention is always better than treatment!
If you are do not have a ramp in the house for your little one, you can buy one of our premium dog ramps here.