All Dachshund owners are probably familiar with IVDD, Intervertebral Disc Disease. This dreaded condition afflicts many types of dogs, but in particular, our precious sausage dogs are particularly prone.
Their short legs and long spines might be adorable, but those physical characteristics also make them vulnerable to spinal injuries and conditions.
In this article, we will look at all things IVDD such as how common is IVDD in dachshunds and how to prevent or help them during recovery.
What Is IVDD
IVDD is Intervertebral Disc Disease, which is a spinal disorder that follows herniating of an intervertebral disc inside a dog that’s been afflicted. There are two types of IVDD, Hansen Type I and Hansen Type II. The one that affects dachshunds or sausage dogs is Hansen Type I.
You might pose some questions, such as how likely is my dachshund to get IVDD. Unfortunately, IVDD is a major problem in wiener dogs, with an average of 19 - 24% of dachshunds will be affected in their lifetime.
There are five Dachshund IVDD stages.
Stage 1: Your dog starts to feel slight pain in their neck and back, and if it does not progress, it will resolve itself in several days.
Stage 2: Your dog will have moderate to severe pain in their neck or back area, and it will start to have difficulty turning its neck and back.
Stage 3: Your dog will experience partial paralysis where it will have difficulty walking or even standing.
Stage 4: Your dog will experience complete paralysis. They are unable to move anything but they can still feel pain when pinched or touched.
Stage 5: This is the final stage where they won’t be able to move at all nor will they be able to feel any sensation.
What Triggers IVDD?
One of IVDD Dachshund causes is their genetics, and if their parents have a higher calcification rate then they also have a higher chance of having IVDD in the future.
Hansen Type I is also triggered by forceful impacts while jumping and landing, which causes pressure on your dog’s spinal cord. This will result in pain, difficulty walking, paralysis, and difficulty in urinating.
What Are The First Signs Of IVDD In Dachshunds?
There are several symptoms that you should watch out for, such as trembling in pain, unwillingness to be active or walk, difficulty urinating or defecating, back or neck pain, and knuckling on their paws to compensate for pain.
But before you decide further, you should get a proper diagnosis from your veterinarian. They usually do some series of physical testing to determine the condition of your dog’s orthopedic and neurological functions.
How Do I Stop My Dachshund From Getting IVDD?
Now that you know what the disease is, you might wonder, how do I protect my dog from IVDD, and can IVDD be prevented?
1. X-Ray Results
It turns out that IVDD can be prevented or at the very least you can lower the risks. The first way to prevent this is to find out the parents’ X-ray results if possible and their calcification level.
2. Lifestyle And Exercise Routine Changes
You can also prevent it by altering exercise or lifestyle. Firstly, they need to avoid high-impact activities such as jumping, high-speed running, fighting with other pets, and going up and down steps.
These could take a toll on their spinal cord and trigger IVDD, so you might want to keep the frisbee playing to a minimum and prevent some high jumps.
In addition, if you go on regular hikes across uneven terrain, you might want to use a harness with handles, and not a collar. This will allow you to help them get easily up and down obstacles. In addition, a harness is also ideal to keep the pull evenly distributed and prevent damage to their sensitive tracheas.
Also, if you’re going on a long hike of say, eight hours, you might want to think about getting a doggy backpack (for short term only) or a dog carrier so you can pop your sausage dog in and let him hitch a ride home. Dachshunds are stubborn, determined dogs that will push themselves to the limits, but this isn’t good for their spines!
3. Home Changes - Doggy Ramps
If your doxie, like most others, loves sleeping on the couch or floor, constantly jumping up and down several times a day places an incredible strain on their spine. Jumping is no good for many types of dogs, and Dachshunds are particularly prone to injuries.
Try several prevention methods such as installing a ramp in your home that will give your Dachshund access to all his or her favorite areas like the couch, your bed, or while getting into your car.
Doggy ramps allow a safe transition and access in and out of areas such as vehicles, beds, and pools that would otherwise be inaccessible to them or require some high jumps.
Installing a doggy ramp is an easy way to provide your canine companion with increased mobility while also giving you peace of mind knowing they are protected from injuries caused by jumping.
One of the best ways to prevent IVDD in dogs is to also take good care of their nutritional requirements. You should avoid giving them too much junk food that can cause obesity, as obesity increases the risks of IVDD due to higher pressure on their backs.
You can also add some supplements that prevent IVDD in dogs to their diet. Supplements like cod liver oil and omega-3 fatty acids can help counteract calcification which can help reduce and regulate arthritis in dogs.
In addition, sausage dogs are particularly prone to overeating, and most doxie owners can attest to their dogs being gluttons! To counter this, try a slow feeder bowl to slow them down and split their meals into smaller portions.
5. Care After Recovery
After all the efforts of getting them well you might ask, how do I keep my dachshund back healthy? In IVDD Dachshund recovery, dogs should move their spinal cord as little as possible, so some changes are necessary such as:
- Installing ramps to places they need to reach (like your bed!)
- Raised food and water bowls so they won’t have to bend their necks
- Orthopedic, soft dog beds for extra cushioning
- Putting rugs to avoid slippery surfaces and provide more traction for your dog’s paws
There’s a 30 to 40% chance of your dog getting IVDD again after being cured if you don’t handle it properly. They can also still get IVDD after surgery and complete recovery if you don’t alter their lifestyle.
Take good care of your Dachshund by doing the recommended physical activities, installing supporting tools, and giving them proper nutrition.
How To Cure IVDD In Dogs
There is no particular go-to cure for IVDD, but merely medical management to manage it. After your dog is diagnosed by your veterinarian, they will usually prescribe a combination of treatment action plans and medical treatments.
If the IVDD is not severe yet, you may only need to get them to a total resting condition in their cages and medicine such as steroids, anti-inflammatories, pain medication, or muscle relaxants. In extreme cases, surgery is recommended to decompress the spinal cord.
Dachshund IVDD Surgery Cost And Procedure
If your dog has a severe case of IVDD, doctors may recommend you get IVDD surgery. The silver lining is that there’s a 90% success rate of recovery if your dog is still in stage 4 IVDD. But the bad news is it can get expensive, and depending on where you are, can cost $5,000 to $10,000.
During the surgery, they will remove the bone overlying the spinal cord and the disc material compressing the spinal cord. Your dog will then have to be monitored for several days, and go through physical therapy and bladder management if needed.