Questions about IVDD
IVDD is intervertebral disc disease. This condition affects around 1 in 4 dachshunds. A first episode is most likely to happen between the ages of 4 and 7.
In the dog suffering from IVDD, the discs that sit between the vertebrae of the spine bulge or burst into the spinal cord space.
To encourage breeding of dogs with a lower risk of IVDD, dachshunds between the ages of 2 and 4 can be X-rayed through the UK screening scheme. The X-ray shows any calcification of the discs. Dogs with many calcifications have been shown to be more at risk of IVDD, and of passing the condition on to their offspring.
The symptoms of IVDD are varied and all dogs differ in the way they present, ranging from mild pain to paralysis. If your dog is starting to show signs of IVDD then he should be checked by a vet promptly. Most cases need prescribed medication including painkillers, plus confinement to a non-slip pen or crate to reduce risk of further injury. Referral for spinal surgery is recommended in many but not all cases.
IVDD often strikes without warning and can be a very worrying and stressful time. Having a list of what to ask your vet can help you remember the important questions you need to ask.
IVDD clinical grading is the way your vet assesses your dog’s condition, there are 5 grades with 1 being the mildest and 5 the most severe. The grading also helps your vet recommend the best course of treatment.
These vet and referral centres are the ones recommended by UK owners; a referral can only be made by your own vet so always consult with them first.
Conservative (non-surgical) treatment may be recommended by the vet when surgery is not considered necessary. It involves medication, walk retraining, and strict use of a pen or crate to prevent exuberant activity. The pen or crate is typically needed for a period of at least 6 to 8 weeks.
I try to avoid the term “strict crate rest” as many people think this means being imprisoned in a very tiny crate for 23.5 hours of the day and then let outdoors off-lead for toileting. We do want the dog to do some on-lead assisted walking during recovery, and this is typically built up during the “crate rest” period.
Surgical treatment may be recommended by the referral specialist and often follows on from an MRI or CT scan, The dog remains at the vet hospital for a period of time before returning home to crate rest with medication and limited walks for approximately 6 weeks.
This is the length of time it takes for dogs to recover following surgery but can be different for every dog and is dependent on several factors.