Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a condition that causes the cushioning pads between the bones of the spine to deteriorate, bulge outward or rupture.
While any dog may experience this painful condition, there are certain breeds with genetic predispositions for IVDD. Dachshunds are at the top of that list.
Approximately 25% of Dachshunds will require veterinary treatment as a result of intervertebral disc damage at some point in their lives. For some dogs it will be mild and treated with simple rest and medications. For others it will result in excruciating pain, costly surgery, and even paralysis.
Symptoms that your Doxie is suffering from IVDD include reluctance to walk, sit, stand or go to the bathroom; stiff or bent neck; weakness in the limbs; tenseness; abdominal sensitivity; and, of course, crying out in pain. The signs may progress gradually as discs harden with age, or happen out of the blue when a disc explosively herniates.
Sudden acute IVDD is known as Hansen Type II and is the form of the disease that Dachshunds typically suffer from. A dog can go to sleep perfectly fine and wake up the next morning in terrible pain and unable to walk due to the sudden compression of the spinal cord.
As frightening as it is to know that your beloved Doxie may have this genetic condition, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact of the disease. The veterinarians at North Star Veterinary Emergency Trauma & Specialty Center (VETS) say that controlling your dog’s activity is the single best thing you can do. This means avoiding:
- Jumping up onto or down off the bed, couch, chair, car seat, etc.
- Going up and down steps, even at slow speeds! Standard stair cases are not well-suited proportionally to Dachshunds. Going up and down steps for them would be like a person climbing steps that are as tall as they are!
- Running at top speed to chase a squirrel, ball, dog, car, etc.
- Rough-housing with other pets or humans
- Tug-of-war (BIG NO-NO!)
It may seem impossible to impose these restrictions on a vibrant, active Doxie, but it is in their best interest if they suffer from IVDD. If a dog with IVDD does experience a disease related injury, the treatment is 6 to 8 weeks of strict cage rest or delicate, expensive surgery. Preventing an episode is always best!
To help avoid injury, North Star VETS recommend using a leash and harness (NOT a collar!) when outside to prevent bolting and strain on the spine. They also emphasize the importance of crating your Doxie when you cannot be home to monitor activity. If your house has stairs, try using ramps or simply carrying your pup up and down.
Almost as important as controlling your dog’s physical exertions is controlling his or her weight. Overweight and obese Dachshunds are at an increased risk for IVDD – not to mention a host of other health problems.
Researchers are yet to identify every gene connected to IVDD, so there is no genetic test to determine if your Doxie will suffer from the disease. However, IVDD does not necessarily mean your pup will end up paralyzed and in constant pain. Following a healthy diet and exercise restrictive routine is imperative to keeping IVDD symptoms at bay and keeping your Doxie healthy and happy.
Featured Image via Instagram/@M_Hiro116