I’m really trying to be nice and patient about this. I keep telling myself that people “educating” and “warning” me about Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) are doing so because they care about Gretel. They care about us. I should appreciate that.
Honestly though, my blood is starting to boil.
I don’t expect everyone to know this but I am highly educated about IVDD. I’ve had over 5 years of experience with it. Between my experiences watching and listening to members of the Dachshund club I run go through it, and helping to rehabilitate my dog walking clients that had surgery, I’ve seen close to 50 different cases. That’s more than most people will see in their lifetime.
I am a scientist by training, and I am passionate about Dachshunds, so I have researched about IVDD for years. I’m up on the current information about the disease and treatment. I have written several articles in an attempt to share my knowledge with others like The Truth About Dachshunds Back Problems and Do You Need to Treat Your IVDD Dog Like Breakable Glass? At the risk of sounding full of myself, I believe my knowledge level is not too far behind the kind folks at K9BackPack and Dodgerslist (I’m not a veterinarian but neither are the highly educated people that created those super great resources).
Please understand the place where I am coming from when I say a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about when they give advice on IVDD. I don’t mean that the advice they are giving in wrong. What I mean is that a lot of the information people are trying to push on me is outdated.
The rehab vet Gretel is seeing – Dr. Leslie Eide – is one of the top in the country. She helped develop dog rehab equipment like the FITbone (affiliate link) and travels the world teaching other rehab specialists the latest and greatest science and exercises. She is a trusted expert in her field and she knows what she is talking about.
I have discussed pretty much every treatment option available, and the latest science, for IVDD with her. She believes, like doctors have realized with people in recent years, that ACTIVE recovery is best for the patient. The concept of making a person lay around for weeks to heal is old and antiquated. Todays goal is to get people up and moving as soon as possible so that they don’t lose the strength, health, and vitaility that they had before the injury (and to improve on it). This philosophy has trickled down to the way that animals are rehabbed after injury.
So many people believe, and so much of the information out there on the internet supports, the philosophy that keeping a Dachshund with IVDD from being active is the best thing to do. The information stresses again and again that “strict” crate rest, where an animal is practically IMMOBILE for most of 6 – 8 weeks, is imperative for proper recovery. Well, guess what? Stuff posted on the internet lives forever. Much of the information out there was written years ago. People who write and share new information often rely on these outdated resources because they are “known” and “safe” things to recommend.
Well, I don’t like to live in the past. I’m what people call an “early adopter”. I want what is best for Gretel and, to me, that means the latest and greatest developments, practices and technologies available to treat IVDD.
Fitzpatric Referrals, who is pretty much THE top facility for Orthopedics and Neurology in the UK, says this about rehabilitation of IVDD:
“There are many dogs diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease that do not require surgery. These dogs can be effectively managed with rehabilitation. Early intervention and support is vital as is a thorough assessment and implementation of a staged rehabilitation treatment plan. In the initial stage following diagnosis of IVDD, the aims of physiotherapy will be to reduce inflammation, reduce pain and spasm, maintain soft tissues flexibility, improve core strength, stimulate sensory input, and re-train postural responses.”
Those things in bold above? Those don’t happen by making a dog lay around and be sedentary. They take activity and controlled exercises to achieve.
NC State Veterinary Medicine’s Neurology department is conducting a clinical study called The Effect of Post-Operative Rehabilitation on Recovery From Acute Thoracolumbar Intervertebral Disc Herniations (I was having some trouble with the link so please click on “neurology” on the left sidebar if the screen is blank). The aim of the study is to establish whether early post-operative rehabilitation increases the speed and level of recovery from IVDD without causing adverse events. They are doing this study because “there is a body of research that suggests early rehabilitation is beneficial following spinal cord injury.”
I’m not winging it guys. Everything you see me doing with Gretel – from gym exercise to therapies to returning to hiking – has been approved and recommended by our awesome rehab vet. Every dog is different so it’s important to do what is right for YOUR DOG but I am doing what is right for MINE.
You’re pleas to “be careful”, whether you mean it or not, feel like a judgement to me – a statement of sorts that I should be sticking with the old ways of doing things and that I’m being reckless with Gretel’s heath.
Look. I’m a good, smart person. You, our fans and readers, are good, smart people. I know in my head that everyone that comments means well and I appreciate that you care. I appreciate that you are willing to share your experiences and advice with me, a virtual stranger. It’s just very frustrating sometimes.
Gretel is not just a dog. She’s my life both figuratively and literally. My business and “brand” was built on our adventures together and my love for her. She is my heart dog and my baby. I’ve never in my life loved a pet this much. It’s borderline inappropriate, really. Ha, ha.
Gretel having IVDD is emotionally draining because it not only makes me sad but it threatens our life as we I know it. The life I’ve built with her. In my heart, the “condemning” or “warning” comments hurt because I KNOW I am taking advantage of the latest and best science and treatment to help her. I don’t like feeling like I’m being put into a “stone age” box of old, antiquated ideas about how to treat IVDD.
I guess I just needed to vent to feel better. I don’t want to keep it inside and explode on someone. Sometimes I can’t help be a little snarky or abrupt in my replies to people though. If you feel some resistance from me, I ask that you please forgive me. I’m human.