Part 2 of The Daxington Post Series on Dogs with Disabilities (by Danielle Kirkman)
Intervertebral disk disease. IVDD. Four letters that dachshund owners absolutely dread. According to the UK Dachshund Breed Council
and the Dachshund Health website
1 in 4 dachshunds will experience some degree of IVDD with Mini Smooths and Smooths most likely to be affected. In this article, we will look at some of the challenges with this disability and learn how many dachshunds (and other breeds) are living full lives.
Let’s start out with the good news. Being aware of the potential for IVDD is one of the best ways to prevent and potentially minimize problems for your dog. There are many excellent resources (listed below) and every dachshund owner should be aware of the fundamentals to ensure that he or she is “back-savvy.” The attached link is a great starting point. The Daxington Post Spinal Injuries for Dummies (A Primer) . Also, the attached illustration of “Dachshunds and Back Problems” offers a helpful list of the warning symptoms of IVDD along with pointers on what to do.
Caption - reprinted with permission from www.youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com
It is important to recognize that there are varying degrees of IVDD ranging from mild to severe. Caught early, crate rest (also known as “conservative treatment”) may be sufficient to allow the spine to rest. However, it is critical to seek immediate medical advice because a herniated disk may require surgery. According to Dodger’s List (the ultimate resource for Dogs with IVDD), “surgery results can be very successful if performed early on a downed dog and by a board certified neuro or ortho surgeon.”
In addition, there are more and more resources and treatment options available to dogs with IVDD that are used effectively with both surgical and conservative treatment approaches. Dodger’s List cites both acupuncture and laser light therapy as effective tools helps to relieve pain and stimulate nerve healing. Hydrotherapy and physical therapy are also effective strategies for rehabilitation and should be incorporated on the advice of a qualified veterinarian.
Your vet may also recommend medications to help with pain management and prevention of further back issues. Some vets prefer holistic therapies and may suggest supplements. Other vets may recommend more traditional medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatories) when neuro functions are intact and there is pain only. (reference - http://www.dodgerslist.com/literature/healingsurgery.htm ).
So let’s talk about the quality of life for a dog with IVDD. I met up with Bo Fender – a black and tan smooth Doxie based on the west coast of the US.
Bo is part of the “Five B” pack of dachshunds. As a matter of fact, Bo’s sister, Betti, also has IVDD. According to Bo’s Ant (his faithful “human”), Bo has had two bouts with IVDD.
According to Ant, Bo’s first symptoms were a “drunken sailor” walk and a diminished appetite. He was on strict crate rest for 8 weeks the first time and he absolutely hated it. The second time the symptoms surfaced, Bo had surgery, followed by crate rest. Like so many IVDD survivors, Bo is able to walk-(and Ant added that his effort and energy level increase dramatically at meal time!!). She added that he occasionally seems to drag his back paws.
After surgery, some dogs may experience a change in their gait, less stability on surfaces such as tile or hardwood floors, varying degrees of difficulty with bodily functions (some dogs cannot sense the need to defecate) and limited mobility. Jumping and standing on hind paws is often not possible. Fortunately, these limitations can be easily addressed and thee are solutions available on the Dodger’s List site.
Bo’s sister Betti (see pictures below), also has IVDD. Betti had successful spinal surgery and has received acupuncture as a follow up treatment to help with pain. Betti is able to walk – although Ant jokes that she may never be a runway model. Betti can be seen running figure 8’s in the back yard and occasionally has the “zoomies,” but is equally content to “bake in the sun” or other warm spots !!
One important point that Bo’s Ant stressed is that neither Bo or Betti seem to be bothered by their disabilities. They are both playful and “stand up for themselves.” “They may not move as well as the other dogs, but it doesn’t stop them from having fun !!”
There are many other IVDD survivors on Facebook including Crusoe, the Celebrity Dachshund, the lovely Sabine (sister to the famous Ulrich owned by Eva Kearns), the beautiful “little Mae” (sister to my friend Lilli Forster), the dappled love Guru known as Freddie McLubbins, Facebook sweetheart Hunter (the paralyzed dachshund in wheels) and my very own sister, Daphne – the 16 year old Georgia dapplet. There are many dachshunds that do not regain the ability to walk and instead use canine carts or wheelchairs. And still, all of these dogs share an amazing determination and optimism. Their stories of courage and their joy of life are what this series on Animals with Disabilities is all about.
Understanding the risks of IVDD can help a pet owner be prepared to work through the challenges. Pet owners are encouraged to keep their dogs at a healthy weight. The UK Dachshund Breed Council encourage pet owners to consider pet insurance to help mitigate the costs of diagnosis and treatment. There are resources for more information (see below) and these are wonderful tools and equipment available including wheel chairs/dog carts (http://eddieswheels.com/ ) and dog strollers, ramps, etc. (http://www.petgearinc.com/ ) to maximize independence for our loved ones.
For an uplifting and humorous look at IVDD and living with a determined dachshund, please check out the blog: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ The witty blogger, Jessica, is an avid hiker and dachshund owner. She explains: “The good news is that not only is IVDD not a death-to-all-fun sentence for your dog, but modern medicine has allowed dogs to make full recoveries and thrive. Or, at the very least, helped dogs manage their condition to a level that still allows them to be active, even if it’s at a lower capacity than they were before.” The blogger adds: ” Because of the numerous treatment options available today, dogs with IVDD have a better chance of recovery, better options for IVDD management, and possibly a lower risk of re-injury.”
USA Georgia Editor
29th March 2018