IVDD Quality of Life: Do You Need to Treat Your Dog Like Breakable Glass?
UPDATE: June 19, 2022
So you found out your dog has Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
At a minimum, you and your dog endured 6 weeks of crate rest.
There were sad eyes, guilt, whining, patience, and frustration involved.
Some of your dogs needed surgery too.
Your dog may or may not have recovered to normal, or almost normal, again.
You don’t think your emotions, and your pocketbook, can go through IVDD treatment a second time.
You worry about caring for a dog with IVDD.
You worry about the quality of life with your IVDD Dachshund and wonder, “Can a dog with live a normal life with IVDD?”
You wonder if a dog with IVDD can be active.
Your instinct may tell you to be very, very careful and treat your dog like fragile, breakable glass from now on to avoid another episode.
But should you?
Disclaimer: I am not a veternarian. I’m just a Dachshund owner sharing what she knows. I have personal expeirence with IVDD, both with my own dog and through at least a hundred conversations with our blog readers and Dachshund club members.
Questions About Caring for a Dog with IVDD After Recovery
After I shared the story of my Dachshund Gretel’s symptoms and diagnosis of IVDD, I received a lot of support from people who have gone through the same thing.
I recieved a lot of questions and comments about caring for my dog now that I knew she had IVDD.
But not all of the comments I recieved were positive.
One of the comments said,
“I really think [Gretel’s] hiking and traveling should be over. [She] Needs rest and lots of care. [She’s] Doing too much.”
I received another couple of comments essentially telling me that what I was doing with Gretel – hiking so much – was bad for her and I need to stop.
Let me be clear that most of the comments I’ve received we’re very positive and encouraging.
I’m not careless though so I did take a second look at my goals for Gretel, after the negative comments, to make sure I still thought I was doing the right thing.
Let me also be clear: Gretel is what I would describe as “fully recovered”. She has no significant mobility issues.
If your Dachshund did not fully recover from their IVDD episode, you may be more limited as to what you can do with them (although I’ve seen many “foot draggers”, or dogs in wheelchairs, hike and walk for miles).
IVDD Care After Recovery: Reactions Based on Experiences
Our beliefs are shaped by our experiences.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard from people’s whose experiences with the veterinarian after their dog was diagnosed with IVDD have been all doom and gloom.
I can’t believe it but there are apparently still vets out there telling owners the only option if their dog is paralyzed and they can’t afford the surgery is to put them down.
I can’t tell you how many “miracle” stories I’ve heard about people’s paralyzed Dachshunds eventually being able to walk again after a lot of rest and at-home exercises.
Of course, some do remain paralyzed but they have gone on to live happy lives scooting around in their wheelchair.
Other vets are less “shocking” but are still doom and gloom none the less.
They tell people that it’s almost a sure thing that their dog will have a very significant problem again and that they should basically treat their IVDD dogs like they are very fragile from here on out.
While it’s true that some people have had the unfortunate experience of owning one or more dogs that have had ongoing, almost unending bouts of IVDD flareups.
A small fraction of dogs with known IVDD have had more than one disk rupture and did eventually end up partially or fully paralyzed long-term (but several of those went on to live happy, pretty normal lives with the help of a dog wheelchair).
However, it is also true that many dogs fully recover from their spinal injury and never have a back issue again.
Perhaps the people who sent me the “scary” messages had dogs who expierneced multiple vertebrae ruptures in their lifetime. I admit that I haven’t.
IVDD injury: What You Can and Can’t Control
Before we go into whether I need to be more careful with my dog Gretel now or not, let’s make sure we understand what IVDD is.
You can read my article The Truth About Dachshund Back Problems but, basically, it says that IVDD is a genetic, degenerative disease you don’t have a lot of control over.
If your dog is going to have an injury that leads to a diagnosis of IVDD, It’s most likely to occur between the ages of 4 – 8 (more typically 4 – 6) no matter of how active or sedentary of life your dog leads (in fact, a dog that is overweight and out of shape more likely to experience IVDD complications).
I’ve seen Dachshunds that spend most of their life sleeping around the house who end up with back injuries associated with IVDD.
I’ve seen Dachshunds that lead a very, very active life – like TruMan who runs marathons – never have any back issues (he does not, to my knowledge, have IVDD – better proving my point about the potential for injury being tied more to genetics than activity level).
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.
At the very least, modern medicine and treatment has 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.
Ten+ years ago when the message was “6-10 weeks strict crate rest and then you better wrap your dog in bubble wrap the rest of it’s life”, therapies like laser treatment and sports rehab were not readily available for dogs.
Because of the numerous treatment options available today, dogs with IVDD have a better chance of recovery, better options for IVDD management, possibly a lower risk of re-injury, and a higher quality of life after an IVDD episode.
Decision Factors In How Active Your IVDD Dog Should Be
So how careful should you be with your IVDD dog? That depends on a lot of things like:
The extent of your dog’s IVD disease
If your dog was paralyzed at some point, their disease is likely in an advanced stage and there may be a greater potential for other disks to be in a more fragile state.
In Gretel’s case, her IVDD episode seemed to progress slowly.
It probably did start a month before her diagnosis when she started to skip a leg while running.
She seemed fine other than that but, a month later, she suddenly was in pain after jumping off the couch .
Her symptoms were mild but I knew the signs of IVDD so I contacted the vet before letting too much time pass.
We were lucky enough to catch her episode in it’s early stages so her “injury” was only Stage II (the earliest pain episode that can be detected).
The physical shape your dog was in before the IVDD episode
A dog who is fit, active, and at an ideal weight before a disk episode may be more likely to continue being active after they have healed.
In my Dachshund Gretel’s case, it’s absolutely been an advantage because she didn’t have that extra weight on her spine to deal with.
My vet said that usually the first thing they have to tell pet owners of dogs with an IVDD injury is to slim their dog down.
Imagine trying to get your dog, who is forced to be sedentary for 6 – 8 weeks, to lose two or five pounds.
Fit, active dogs also have stronger spine supporting muscles.
All dogs on crate rest will lose some muscle tone and/or mass but the dogs that started out strong, and who complete core muscle strengthening exercises, will be less out of shape once they’ve healed.
How well your dog recovered after their back injury
If a dog was paralyzed and never regains use of their back legs, obviously their activities may be more restricted.
They may only be able to go where a wheelchair will go.
Whether your dog was initially paralyzed or not, if they still drag a foot, or otherwise don’t walk properly, they may also be limited to what and how much they can safely do.
Scraped toes is a common injury of dogs that drag a foot while walking.
If a dog has made a full recovery from a disk episode though, they may be able to resume normal activities.
Your commitment to your dog’s ongoing back care
I must admit that Gretel and I were what are called “weekend warriors”.
A weekend warrior is someone who is basically sedentary all week and then goes for a big adventure on the weekend.
I didn’t want that to be us, and I always “tried” to increase our activity during the week, but it never stuck.
I don’t have the luxury of being complacent anymore.
I plan to walk every day, or at least several times a week, around our neighborhood so Gretel is in shape for regular activity.
I will be doing home exercises with her to strengthen the muscles in her legs and back.
I’ll learn dog massage and stretching techniques to keep her strong muscles balanced and supple.
I also bought a cold laser so I can give her treatments at home on an ongoing basis.
In summary, if you plan to keep your IVDD dog active, there will things you need to do to help keep them mobile and pain free.
Your tolerance of risk
This one is significant.
In my experience, there are two primary camps of people in life.
Some people live life in fear of something going wrong and spend their whole life trying to minimize or avoid risk.
Others live by the philosophies “you only live once” and “we’re all going to die someday, you might as well enjoy life” and this extends to their dog.
This latter group of people are comfortable with risk if it means that their dog gets to still live life to it’s fullest.
These are two extremes and, of course, there is a whole spectrum of people in between.
Most people have decided that some things are worth a little risk and some aren’t.
I admit that I’ve always been a little more comfortable with risk than some, although I see all risk I take as a well-calculated risk.
As pet owners, our personal beliefs tend to extend to our dogs so someone less comfortable with risk may think their dog should be super, super careful too.
Just so you understand what the risk actually is…
My neighbor, who is a veterinary surgeon, said that after crate rest and therapy, once the offending disk forms the hard covering over it or calcifies, that disk is unlikely to pose a problem in the future.
However, there are other disks affected by IVDD that could cause a problem ranging from mild to severe.
He said there was a 20% chance, per disk, that something could go wrong with one of Gretel’s other disks in the future.
In other words, there is a chance she could expeirence another spinal disk injury.
To put this risk into perspective, a human has a 0.000001% chance of dying sitting home playing a computer game (given that you don’t have cancer or heart disease I assume because the risk is higher for those. Source.), a 0.16% chance of being hit walking down the street, a 0.37% chance of dying in a car accident, and a 14% – 16% chance of dying of cancer or heart disease (Source).
A 20% chance is approximately 1:5 odds. That is a significant risk in my book.
It’s not enough to stop me from letting Gretel enjoy the live she loves though.
Your perspective on the positives and negatives of inactivity
It looks like staying home and sitting around might be safer, right? Maybe.
One theory is the more active your dog is, the higher the chance your dog could re-injure their back.
On the other hand, there are risks associated with living a more sedentary life too.
Benefits of moderate exercise for your dog include:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease and other illnesses
- Reducing Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Helping maintain a healthy weight
- Keeping their muscles toned toned
- Invigorating all the organ systems in their body
To me, there are more benefits to keeping my dog Gretel active than preventing her from being active for fear of another back injury.
What your vet recommends
You can consider all of the above and make up your own mind.
Then, share your thoughts, beliefs, hopes, and goals with your veternairan and see what they say.
I am not a vet. You are not a vet. Only they have the expertise to medically evaluate your dog and tell you whether you are on the right track or not.
One caveat though: A lot of veterinarians still err on the side of extreme caution and believe dogs with IVDD should stay in the house and not move around too much.
So, again, consider all of the factors I listed above alongside your vetrinarians recommendations and make up your own mind.
What Kind of Activities Can Your IVDD Dog Do?
Based on your assesment of factors above, you can make your own decision about what kind of activity your dog should engage in after they recover from an IVDD related injury.
Here are my personal answers to some of the most common questions.
Can Dogs with IVDD go on walks?
The short answer to this is, yes, a dog with IVDD can still walk.
Of course, how much your dog can walk depends on their initial stage of IVDD injury and their recovery, but in my 10 years of studying Dahchsunds I’ve never heard of a veterinarian suggesting that a dog with IVDD shouldn’t walk.
In fact, walking regularly was part of Gretel’s recovery recommendations by our rehab vet (we started with 5 minutes a day and worked back up to her normal level after several months).
I try to walk her at least 4 or 5 days a week and we walk, or hike, for 2 to 8 miles at a time.
Can dogs with IVDD play?
If your dog has IVDD, how much they should play with other dogs, and what type of play should be allowed, is a very personal decision.
My dog’s rehab veterinarian explained about reinjury when a dog has IVDD and told me that the highest risk movements are when a dog twists their spine.
If your dog plays roughly with other dogs, the chance of tripping or falling and twisting their spine is high.
If your dog wrestles with another dog, they may squirm to get out from underneath them, thus twisting their spine.
For me, if Gretel engages in light play with another dog (like play bowing and jumping around a little bit), I am fine with that.
She’s not the type to regularly play rough with other dogs but if I feel like she might significantly twist her spine, I stop the play session.
Can dogs with IVDD run?
Despite popular belief, Dachshunds can run.
Although I safely ran with my first Dachshund, and ran with Gretel before I knew she has IVDD, running is something I don’t allow her to do a lot of.
If she is off leash or in the back yard and wants to run around a bit, I let her.
When she is in control of her own movement and intensity, I feel like the risk of her pushing herself too much is low.
However, I no longer encourage her to run and don’t run with her on a leash anymore.
Can dogs with IVDD travel?
Depending on the type, traveling with a dog who has IVDD may be no more risky than walking.
This is epecially true if your favorite kind of travel with your dog the road trip.
Whether in the house or in the car, your dog is laying around all the same.
There might be an increased risk with travel associated with the increased activity when your dog is not sleeping in the car.
When we travel, we tend to take a lot of walks. Definitely more than we do when we are home.
This increase in activity level could make your dog’s muscles and spinal joints sore.
Flying with your dog can be a risk too.
Even if your dog flies in the airplane cabin with you, your dog may lay akwardly in the small arline dog carrier, thus holding their spine in an unntatural position for a prolonged period of time.
If your dog is flown in cargo, you don’t know how gently your dog’s crate is being handled so it’s possible your dog could be jostled around in there, thus twisting your dog’s spine.
No matter where you stand on the choices above, the most important thing is to know the signs of an IVDD flare up and what to do about it if it happens.
Signs of an IVDD Flare Up
Signs of an IVDD flare up aren’t that much different than the signs displayed when your dog suffers an IVDD injury like a slipped disk or disk rupture.
However, because an IVDD flare up essentially a reaggrivation of a past injury, or irritation of already calcified disks, instead of a new injury, signs and symptoms of an episode are typically more mild.
These symtoms often mimic early signs of IVDD in dogs and include:
- Reluctance to walk
- A hunched back
- Limited mobility like inability to lift their leg high
- Shaking or trembling
- An unwillingness to eat (when they normall have no issue)
- Looks like they are uncomfortable or in pain
- Whining or yelping, expecially when picked up
On our recent month-long road trip, Gretel experienced an IVDD flare up.
Gretel was reluctant to walk and was hunching her lower back a little.
One unusual symptom was that she refused to go potty. She always potties on command so this was really strange to me.
It almost made me think it wsn’t her back.
But then I figured out she wasn’t going potty because it hurt too much to squat or bend her back to do it because she went potty again after a dose of pain medication.
What to Do If Your Dog Has an IVDD Flare Up
How you treat an IVDD flare up is similar to how you would treat any back injury.
If this is your dog’s first IVDD flare up, or it seems different than one they have experienced before, I highly suggest you visit your veterinarian for assessment.
A period of conservative treatment is typically recommended, which includes a round of pain medication and a period of crate rest (usually only a week or two for a flare up).
You may also want to opt for accupuncture, cold laser treatments, or , light therapy to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Once you have experience with IVDD flare ups, you may choose to address it on your own and only see your veterinarian if needed (if it gets worse or is not getting better).
Gretel’s recent back flare up was the worst we have experienced.
But I had previously taken her to the vet for a flare up and knew what the likely cause was and what the vet would recommend we do.
So I did those things and monitored the situation.
At first, I felt guilty for not ending the trip and going home.
But then I was reminded that she would get the same flare-up treatment at home as she was getting on the road, and out in nature, which was more exciting for her. So I modified our plans a little and carried on.
Note: I did also call her veterinarian back home and confirm that my assessment, and the way I was treating her IVD flare up, was appropriate. It was.
Luckily, this road trip was mostly driving to visit friends and hold meetups for our Adventurewiener Club (vs a lot of hiking).
I brought Gabapentin pain medication Gretel’s veterinarian had previously prescribed in our dog first aid kit (I did have to call in a refill on the road though).
I gave her that and rested her as much as possible.
She mostly laid around camp, around the hotel, or in the car.
If our activity for the day did include walking, I carried her in my arms or in her dog sling carrier.
I’d previously purchased a high quality pet cold laser for home use and had brought that with us specifically for an occasion like this.
I gave her the maximum two laser treatments a day.
I carefully monitored her while resting her for 10 days and am happy to say she is back to normal now.
My Bottom Line About IVDD and Activity
When Gretel was diagnosed with IVDD, I asked the vet point blank of she will ever be able to hike again and she said, “If all goes well, absolutely!”
There was no hesitation.
I got a second opinion about it from a veterinary surgeon and he said the same thing.
Our dog sports rehab vet also agreed.
In fact, they told me that I should not stop doing the activities we were used to as long as Gretel heals up properly from this episode and I am willing to take some extra precautions.
Of course, there is always the risk of her having another episode now that I know she has IVDD, but the risk was there before she was diagnosed as far as I am concerned.
The only real difference for me is that it’s now a known risk rather than a potential risk.
UPDATE: How is My Dog Doing Six Years After Her IVDD Diagnosis?
Gretel suffered a back injury, and was diagnosed with IVDD, in the spring of 2016.
She made what I would describe as a “full recovery” after 10 weeks of crate rest and rehab.
The first time we went hiking after she was “healed”, I was a nervous wreck. I was so afraid she would hurt herself again.
We started out with easier hikes but, as she continued to hike with no issues, my confidence in her ability grew.
I became more comfortable with her hiking so we started going on longer and steeper (more difficult) hikes.
About a year after her injury, she was back to hiking like she had been before. She could easily go up to 7 miles over difficult terrain.
Looking at her, you wouldn’t know she has IVDD because she is very active.
Just the other day, 6 years after her diagnosis, after experiencing 4 IVDD flare ups, and at 12 years of age, she completed her gazillionth hike (I lost count of the actual number).
I know she could experience a flare up at any time and I watch her like a hawk for any signs of trouble, but, as I said, she could have this flare up whether out hiking or lazing around at home.
I don’t limit her life experience and enjoyment because of a potential flare up or new ruptured disk.
My aim is to inspire people to make informed decisions about how to treat their IVDD dog instead of acting blindly out of fear alone.
I want set an example of how you can be active with your IVDD dog after diagnosis.
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About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
Gretel is in great hands!! You won’t ask her to do more than she can! I’m in favor of getting her back to where she was before even though some changes need to be made. Exercise is so important!! Not only for our fur babies but for us as well!!
Keep up the good work, Jessica!!
Thanks. She is my bestest hiking buddy. I don’t yet have a plan for if she’s not able to hike with me again. We’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it I guess 🙁
All you can do for her and you is to take one day at a time.
You’ll know and so will she!!
Did your dog eat good during her down time? My toy poodle is paralyzed in hind legs and will not eat anything but very few peanut butter cookie treats. He became paralyzed early Monday morning. Any suggestions?
Hi Connie. To be clear, Gretel was never “down”. She experienced pain and early IVDD symptoms so I took her to the vet right away. However, she was in some pain. She ate fine while on crate rest. Her most favorite thing in the world is to eat! That being said, she won’t eat treats or anything if she is super stressed out. Most dogs won’t eat or drink if they are in significant pain or really stressed out from their environment or something that’s happening to them. Did you try something else besides your pup’s regular food? Some people have luck with a mixture of chicken and rice. I would just keep trying until you find something he will eat and maybe consider talking to the vet about increasing his pain medication (I’m assuming you’ve taken him to the vet and they put him on medication). Good luck.
Our dog is a Red English Cocker, and he has IVDD. Their regular lifespan, being a purebred, is 10-12 years (says the breeder). We had another English Cocker before this one now, and she lived 10 months after turning age 12 but did NOT have IVDD. He’s had these IVDD episodes at least 7 times (herniated disks), sometimes in the neck, sometimes in his back. The ones in his back are not only the most painful, but the ones that last the longest and affect the back legs. His first episode was when he was 4, almost 5 years old. He always was a ‘wild n crazy’ guy, jumping off a high bed, etc. He is now going on 12 years old, and has definitely declined. I think he would have had more episodes but for the last 4 years, we put him on Vetri Science/Vetri Disc capsules for pet joint health, one twice a day. He is failing now since he’ll be 12, November 10th this year. He’s always came back well, from each episode, even though once he had two herniated disks (neck and back together). Had the neck one and 2 days later got the back one. We crated him that time….but other times not. Someone was always around to sit/lay with him on the floor, petting or talking to him. (My husband and I are both retired and at home so could do that). His heart and mind are willing but his body with age, no longer is. That very bad time with two herniated disks, he wouldn’t eat or drink water and he had to eat to take his Rimadyl, for pain and inflamation, as it’s hard on the stomach. We tried everything and no luck. Then my daughter started bringing him out treats from the Pet Store (before she went to work each morning) and once he started eating those, he started eating his food. We still had to coax him to drink water after he ate anything. And maybe he’d take a few laps and was done. We went to canned food (chicken) then instead of his dry biscuits. As it was something he wasn’t used to but really liked. And within a couple of weeks, he was feeling and walking better. We made some rules at that time, no more getting up on furniture to sit with us in the evening – and jumping down- and no more going up and down long flights of stairs. He still had to go down 2 steps to get outside to go potty and come back in, but no going down to the rec-room in our basement with 15 steps down and up. He couldn’t come down anymore, unless my husband carried him down. For 4 days now, he is in another episode. This one doesn’t seem like IVDD though, but more like a slipped disk maybe?? On Friday, he seemed fine when he woke up, he was good, and all of a sudden he was crying in pain, couldn’t get comfortable trying to sit or lay, and sometimes yelping out. His left hind leg, he held up and he had a hard time balancing and using hind legs. We immediately got him on his meds, and by late afternoon, after a long nap, he got up and walked fine, didn’t seem like in any pain. Tail wagin’ and happy again. And he’s been fine since (other than aging deterioration stuff). I groom our dog and haven’t been able to clip or bath him now for over a couple months. At his advanced age, the minute I even bathe him in our bathtub, he has an episode of his neck, same with grooming. Then crippled up for a week or so. Can’t stand long enough to groom his back, belly and legs and feet. Not sure what I can do about it either. We are on standby with our Vet and also an at home Vet that euthanises pets in their home….either under a tree outside or in our house. My husband says Toby always hated going to the Vet’s, hated the blood draws and shots, and would get so excited breathing so fast and crying/whining, that the Vet couldn’t even hear his heartbeat when trying to listen to it. And we don’t want to put him through that for his last memory of us!!
Wow Darlene, it sounds like you and your pup have been through a lot. I’m glad that he has recovered from each IVDD episode. The last one does indeed sound like it’s IVDD related too, especially given his history. It could have just been a slightly bulging disk that shifted off the nerve after a little bit. Anyway, it sounds like you love him very much and he’s getting the bet care you can give him.
I feel so bad for you I m going through pretty much the same thing with my dog , well he was my sister’s dog for 14 years I ve had him for 2 years he’s a jack Russell territory and now is almost 16 years old my sister’s was murdered we inherited him so u can understand how special he is to me and my son stubby is his name he’s all I have left of my sister and I can’t bare the thought of putting him to sleep but I hate seeing him in so much pain idk I doing the best I can
I’m sorry. That sounds like such a difficult situation.
You should try & make your dog a bone broth, it is full of vitamins & may interest her in eating
I am considering PLDA as a preventative for my pup. Do you have any experience with that or know someone who does?
Hi Tiffany. I had to look up PLDA. I’ve never heard it called that. I know a few people who have done laser disk ablation for their dog and all of them swear by it. I would try it for Gretel if she ever needs it (the vet said doing surgery when she otherwise did not need it for her surgery would have done more harm than good). Good luck.
Add me to the list of people who have had laser ablation done on their dog and swear by it.
First, let me apologize in advance for my long-winded post. However, I found information about the preventive laser ablation option surprisingly scarce so for those who could benefit from it – a lot I suspect – I would like to save them and their beloved pets time, pain and money.
My dog had a disc blow out and I was faced with the option of putting her down or over $5000 in surgery (She was in too much pain for the crate rest option to continue although we tried that first and strictly observed protocol). Did the surgery. Then 4.5 months later, another back issue but the crate rest worked. Then 4.5 months after that major blow out and once again, death or $6000 in surgery. Did the surgery.
After a long recovery (and another intervening back issue), we took her down to Oklahoma State University where the procedure originated and did the procedure (Cost was $1350 in February of 2017). They advocate 2 weeks crate rest after the procedure (versus 6-8 after surgery) which we followed even though it drove Chloe nuts because she seemed unaware that anything had happened to her other than a bad haircut.
It has been a year and 3 months with no issues of any kind. She is playing with her (full grown) puppy and taking long walks and enjoying life.
Incidentally, don’t count on your veterinary surgeon to tell you about this option even if you ask if there is “absolutely anything you can do to prevent this from happening again.” I was told there was a 35% chance of it happening again and there was essentially nothing I could do other than not let her jump off furniture, keep her trim and cross my fingers – all of which I did to no avail. Turned out, the surgeon knew all about this option, but for some head scratching reason, the only option offered in this region of the country is surgery at $5000-8000 a pop with a 35% of a recurrence.
Incidentally, you can also get laser ablation done in Dallas although the cost is about twice as much as Oklahoma State (at least when I checked in Winter 2017) and Stillwater is a 4 hour drive north of Dallas so you might find it worth the drive. A physician with years of experience – not a student – performed the actual procedure on my dog after an initial examination by a student and then intern – both of whom impressed me with their competence and compassion. Lots of places to stay in Stillwater that allow dogs (We stayed in La Quinta). Stillwater is not exactly a tourist destination, but definitely glad we went!
Thank you for your site, by the way. It was a post by another follower on this site that helped persuade me to go forward with the procedure – the quality of life for Chloe and peace of mind for us has been worth it!
Thanks for sharing this information Jean. I have heard very good things about this procedure and will definitely be asking my vet about it if Gretel has another disk issue.
UPDATE: For those who are curious, it’s been over 3.5 years since the laser ablation (late Feb of 2017) and Chloe is doing great. Daily walks and no problems since. Of course, I’d prefer not to do it but if you find yourself in the same predicament as me and Chloe (disk blow outs every 4 months or so) and your bank account is limited, consider it an option. Best to everyone and their beloved furry family members and thank you, Jessica, for this site.
Thanks for the update Jean! As I have heard more and more success stories with laser ablation, I’m more convinced it can really help.
I just found out my dog has ivdd….. surgery is $7,000 so not a viable option for me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I read your article. My one question is how much should I let him walk in the beginning…..he wants to walk but then falls. Thanks for any help. Chuck. email@example.com t
Hi Chuck. I’m sorry you are going through this. I am also sorry for my delayed reply. There was an issue with the comment system on my blog for a while. I hope you were able to find your answer. The short one is that your dog should not walk much, if at all, for at least the first 5 weeks so scar tissue can form over the disk. I carried Gretel out to go potty, kept her on a leash so she couldn’t walk around, and fed her in her crate. Here is a more detailed article I wrote about the crate rest process: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/
Hey there. I have two dashunds one tweeny and a mini both rescues. My male the tweeny has been paralyzed twice from disc problems. I have always kept him slim but I think he was predisposed neither time cound I afford the surgury but went with the crate and water theropy. The second tim I got the wheel chair for him as he was Incontinent and such for much longer but he is a proud boy and went from his legs hanging to wanting to walk within the first couple of weeks of the wheelchair so yea he doesn’t walk quite right he still walks and runs he also is missing a paw which was gone when adopted him. Putting him down would have destroyed me and the first time he was paralyzed I told him he had to pee and such on his own cause I feared putting him down which I felt the vet was leaning towards and low and behold he did what I asked I would be lost without him and I think we as humans have a lot to learn from our furry friends after all if you where paralyzed. Incontinent and someone said you know maybe rest for six weeks and exercise you may walk again we would laugh at them. Our intellegance stops us as humans from remarkably walking again after paralization. Twice. Also my min female who always was the perfect model of a dashund whom shouldn’t have any problems and always waits to be lifted etc fell prey to the same fate once and guess what she is walking also without any water theropy just crate and exercises I would hate to see the day that doctors decided to put us down because we couldn’t walk. I know by my male looking at me he wasnt ready to go nor was I and I am glad I think the way I do as he deserves to live life happy as do we Thanks for listening
Yes, IVDD is a genetic condition so once a dog has a back issue once, there is a fair chance that it will happen again. In Gretel’s case, her symptoms were mild (caught early) but there is a chance we will not be so lucky next time. Still, I would work with her through whatever issues she has just like you did with your pups. Dogs are determined – especially Dachshunds – so I am not surprised that yours worked and worked to get most of their abilities back. Sounds like you love them very much and give them a great life.
I am so, so glad to hear that your doctor believes Gretel will be able to hike again once she’s recovered. I’ve been worried about that because I know that’s very much a part of who she is – as well as who YOU are. I know you are taking the best care of her, and you will always put her health and well-being first.
Thanks for this great information. Definitely pinning it to my Doxie board and hope I never have to refer back to it! 🙂
I never wanted to be an “IVDD blogger” but I do think it’s important to share my experiences. Besides the fact that people want to know what is going on with Gretel, I’m hoping that I can help others through this experience. Lemonade out of lemons you know? 🙂 I actually started and IVDD board on Pinterest since this happened. I’m glad you found the article helpful.
Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story! I have a miniature Schnauzer that has been diagnosis with this problem. I live on acreage so she is always chasing rabbits, squirrels, anything that gets under the burn pile. She is the kind of dog that will push through any pain to get what wants. Lately, even when I touch her sides, she will whimper a little. We just started laser treatments. Your article gives me hope and some guidance on how to restrict some of her activity because she will stop at NOTHING to chase a rabbit across the field but later in the evening she won’t even jump on her favorite chair. I was afraid we were on the path to her demise but I think keeping her moderately active is the perfect approach, like it would be for us. And making a Pinterest Board is perfect! I’ll be looking that up next. Thank you again for your encouragement and good common sense you’ve shared with us! Blessing to you and your fur babies <3.
I’m glad my story helped you figure out what is best for you and your pup. Good luck!
I can’t imagine what you must be feeling. The worry would kill me. But, it’s sounds like she’s in excellent hands and you’ve certainly done your research. I look forward to watching her progress back to health and hiking.
Keep your chin up.
Ha, ha. You should have seen the list of potential treatments, tests, and questions I had in hand when I showed up to our first visit with the rehab specialist. I’m pretty sure I left no stone unturned 🙂
Much appreciated, thank you for all this information. My 71/2 month old mini d developed a skip just as you started blogging about this my heart almost stopped. It looks like luxating patella, but I researched everything just in case and drove myself half-mad with worry. I just want him to enjoy being a rambunctious puppy. We begin aquatherapy to help his knees today…..may be an idea?
Aquatherapy and idea for us? Yes, Gretel starts unnderwater treadmill walking this Friday. I’ll be writing about our experience.
I suppose it’s good that it’s your pup’s knee and not back but I’ve heard a luxating patella can also be troublesome to deal with. Good luck to you guys.
A great article – it is so important to be informed, collect data, analyze, etc., prior to making decisions. Dogs, just like people, living a sedentary lifestyle in and of itself is problematic. We cheer you and Gretel on and thank you for sharing all that you are learning and doing as a result of this diagnosis – it will help people in similar situations.
Thanks for the encouragement. Humans have overcome disabilities and debilitating health conditions for years. We’re just seeing that idea go mainstream with pets. I know my approach won’t be a popular one among some of the Dachshund community but I think it’s important to shift the thinking around this condition. Almost everything I read about it feels fear based to me and I want people to know that, with careful thought and planning, they don’t have to let the fear stop them and their dog from enjoying life.
I had an active Doxie, and was fortunate he never had spinal issues. But he demanded regular LONG walks….would sit and whine/cry every day at same time we usually went if I thought of slacking off. So I am sure Gretel enjoys hiking, and you will make good decisions for care.
That’s how Gretel always was and I don’t expect that to change after she heals. She won’t understand why I let her do less than she used to. But that’s why I want to try and manage this so she can do as much as possible 🙂
Jessica…haters always gonna hate…that’s just the nature of the Internet these days-sigh. From reading your posts I feel quite assured you know what you’re doing where your pups are concerned the very best for them. Personally I think activity is good for both uprights and pups, so kudos to you. Having been a weekend warrior myself, I can attest that daily walks become easier to fit in the more you do them. I can’t imagine NOT having those daily walks now and both Sam and I have benefitted from a little less sleep in the morning. 😉 Best wishes for a full recovery to Gretel. ღ
I hope this article is still going on in 2019 I have a Italian mastiff who just lost his back legs from IVDD the veterinarian said his disc was blown and I did not know what to due.I thought putting him down was the last and only hope Thank you for new information I will try to give as much as I can it’s only been one week of IVDD condition
Long – I’m sorry you and your dog are going through this. For more information, please check out my IVDD resource page here: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/inervertebral-disk-disease-ivdd-resources/ Also check out the website Dodgerslist.com. There is a bunch of information listed there. Do know that there are dogs that recover partially or fully through conservative treatment – 10-12 weeks of crate rest and medication – even if surgery was recommended. Not all do though. Each dog is different but you can certainly try that first to see if it helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
So not surprised about the comments that Gretel should never have been hiking in the first place. I’ll admit that the thought did cross my mind, but common sense took over with the belief that activity is better than not. So I am glad that you are a person that is looking at all angles about what’s best for Gretel. With your excellent resources of veterinary care and the desire to do whatever is necessary to keep Gretel as healthy as possible I am confident in her future.
Love this article! While we are not dealing with this particular diagnosis, I experienced a similar issue with one of my labs, Simon, who blew out his knee. After three surgeries, several folks told me that since there was a 60% chance the other knee would blow at some point, he probably shouldn’t hike anymore. While I appreciated the concern, like you, I had to weigh all of the pros and cons and ultimately make a decision that works for Simon. Three 1/2 years later at nine years old, Simon still LOVES to get out on the trails!
That’s great to hear. Did your vet ever suggest a brace for Simon’s knee while he was hiking> I am not sure if they exist for dogs but I’m curious.
I’m so glad that she is recovering well. Sometimes it frustrating because some people think they know what is best for our own dogs. I had a similar response when Sherman tore his ACL and we decided to treat it conservatively rather that with surgery. Most were very supportive but a few thought it was cruel that that I would not have it surgically repaired on a giant breed dog. I did my research, I knew what I was getting into. I also knew my dog. 4 years later and Sherman’s doing wonderful.
Sending get well vibes to Gretel!
I’m so glad that worked out for you guys. Only we know what is best for our own pets.
Thank you so much for this. My Mia is in the “house rest” stage after surgery and crate rest, to be followed by lead walking only for 3 months. Interesting to hear views on what she will eventually be able to do. I am all for getting them back to as normal as possible, although no more stairs or jumping on & off sofas for her!
I always think it’s better to be optimistic and adjust expectations from there. I hope Mia recovers well and can go on to have a happy, active life.
I completely agree with your thought process in this and that it does not mean that Gretel’s active days are over. You have to do what is right for her and you know that better than anyone. There will always be risks involved in whatever we do and there is a lot to be said for quality of life – especially since it is clearly something she enjoys so much. I also know that you will be always keeping a close eye on her and taking the proper precautions when needed. Good luck to Gretel in her recovery!
What’s funny is that I’ve often used “I could get hit by a car one day too” as a justification for big adventures. It turns out that’s way less likely than I thought. Ha, ha. Still, I’ve seen to many tragic instances of a life of sacrifices and compromise cut short and I don’t want that to be me… or Gretel if I can help it 🙂
I think you are doing 100% the right thing. I went through all of this 2 years ago, and knowing how my dog is, I knew that if and when he got back to walking ( which he did, thankfully!), I would provide ramps in places that I could to keep him off stairs; but I also knew that he is who he is, and some things about him wouldn’t ever change. He is half doxy and half Jack Russell terrier, so…he is a whole lot of crazy when it comes to things like chasing squirrels, birds, etc in his yard. And, he LOVES those things. Nothing makes him happier than keeping watch over his yard, and yelling at anything or anyone who comes near it. I knew that I didn’t ever want to take the things he loves the most away from him. So, we be as careful as possible, but I still let him be who he is, for the most part.
During his rehab, we did laser treatments, and also went to warm water swim/massage therapy twice a week. It was great. I really believe in the swim therapy helped strengthen his core, and helped him get back to normal faster.
You are doing great with Gretel…and I am glad to be able to follow the journey in your blog! 🙂
We want to protect our furbabies but not break their spirit, right? Gretel is starting with walking on an underwater treadmill. Our rehab vet didn’t think swim therapy would be good for her at this stage because she kind of panics when she is submerged in the water. We start that Friday and I’m super excited.
Great article! I’m one of the co-founders of K9 Back Pack and I totally agree with your article.
Thanks for chiming in Sharon. I was wondering what you guys would think about my take on things. You know I love you guys and refer people to you whenever I can 🙂
Very interesting article. I’m not very familiar with IVDD, but did have my boy Riedi tear his ACL and the recovery was longer than usual because he has a very low level of tolerance for pain.
Let us know how the acupuncture goes. I have heard great things about it.
Love the picture you have of her flying through the air! I have a similar picture of Margi lure chasing and absolutely love it!
I am pretty sure Gretel has a higher tolerance for pain but that’s not necessarily a good thing. That means she can fool me into thinking she’s doing better, or ok, when she is not. Maybe Riedi’s recovery was just the right length because you could tell what really was going on. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on Gretel’s progress.
Something you didn’t mention, but that I think has a significant role in whether a dog can come back from an injury, is the physical condition the dog is in when they are injured. A dog who is seriously overweight is likely to take longer to recover or never fully recover, because the extra weight they carry around causes stress on the injury.
Where as a dog who is in really good physical condition has a lot going for them. Dogs who are physically fit and exercise regularly will have muscles that support their bones, joints, and tendons (pit bulls, for example, tend to have fewer problems at the same point in hip dysplasia as a lab, based on x-rays, because of the large muscles in the area helping to hold the joint together and keep the bones and tendons from moving away from their proper place). Tendons and bones will be stronger, because they have been used regularly.
When crate rest is over, a lot of the muscle will have wasted, especially if the dog is put on steroids for inflammation. But a dog who is fit before crate rest will be much more likely to recover more completely once they start rehabbing, because they have a base for it. They are less likely to be overweight at the end of their crate rest, because they didn’t start off overweight (and their owners know what a dog looks like when in shape, so often won’t allow nearly as much weight gain as what an owner of an already fat dog is likely to do).
Overall, I think fitness before an injury, regardless of injury type, is a huge factor. A dog who is overweight and in bad condition before an injury likely shouldn’t (and couldn’t) come back after a serious injury to do long hikes and runs. A dog who has been physically fit and able to do those things in the past, however, is much more likely to be able to recover enough to do those things again.
You’re completely right. In my mind, I did write that in the article, or at least implied it. Obviously not though 🙂 The article was already running long so I didn’t want to keep adding more things but I do think physical shape before an incident is very important. I’ll see where I can fit that in.
I was born in 1960 and we had a standard doxie named Prince. I don’t remember, but when I was two Prince became paralyzed. No surgery was available and I have no idea if much pain meds were available either. The veterinarian told my mom that it was hopeless. My mom told me many times that he could not walk or stand. Besides carrying him out to the bathroom and everywhere she devised physical therapy for him. She used horse linament on his back and legs and would turn him on his back on the bed and work his legs like he was walking or riding a bicycle, she did not give up hope, and neither did Prince. He got better everyday until one day he stood up, she kept up her therapy and he returned to full mobility. Maybe its because neither one gave up hope.
That’s a wonderful story Cece. Thanks for sharing. It’s amazing what can happen when people, and pets, set their mind to it.
My mini doxie is currently on crate rest, week 5. This is her second episode. We have the added challenge of her being epileptic which means her meds make her pack on extra weight. When she’s well, free of seizures and disc problems, we try to give her as many adventures as possible. She’s our lead dog in a house of 3 so the others are wandering aimlessly until their fearless leader is back to normal. I would love to know how you are learning the therapies you are implementing like massage, stretching, etc as I would love to do this with my girl. I hope Gretel improves quickly so she can resume her hikes and adventures. Life is too short to sit on the couch!
I’ll be sure to share those things. We’re just in the beginning stages of this so there hasn’t been much to share about her therapies so far. After next week will will have tried laser, the Assisi Loop, acupuncture, acupressure/massage, and underwater walking on a treadmill (hydrotherapy). I plan to write about all of that in the next week or two.
I try so hard never to tell anyone else what they should do with their own dogs. Obviously the own dog’s owner knows best and I know Gretel is in good hands. I’m sorry she even has to deal with this issue and I’m also sorry it seems to be so common in doxies. Wishing Gretel the best! I’m interested in hearing more about the laser therapy.
And thanks for letting me know about the stroller you use!
I know what you mean. I have a lot of opinions and advice 🙂 I’ve learned to keep it to myself though unless the person is asking for help. Sometimes I just have to walk away from a conversation, whether literally or figuratively online.
Fantastically written post, Jessica! Knock on wood, Nola has never had a back issue, but if she were to, I’d take your stance on it. It makes no sense to me to have a dog go through and overcome (or at least manage) IVDD, to turn around and treat them like glass. If that’s not a wakeup call to live life to the fullest, I don’t know what is.
Thanks. Yes, I want to protect her but I want her to have the best life possible in between episodes (if she even has one again but I am assuming she will at some point).
On another note, I keep meaning to ask you about Nola’s Ruffwear Webmaster Harness. I really, really want Gretel to wear one, especially now. However, the straps always chafe her in her armpit. I’ve spoke several times with the folks at Ruffwear about it and it turns out that the XXS just might be too big for her. What size does Nola have and what are her measurements (particularly her neck and Chester circumference)? She looks to be about the same size as Gretel to me.
Hers is the XXS, and her neck is 9.5″, chest 15″, and I think her waist is…10″? It’s tightened pretty much all the way down, but it fits well like that. Have you thought about maybe sewing some faux sheep skin type fabric on the armpit area to help with the rubbing?
Nola is actually a tad smaller than Gretel. Gretel’s neck is 11 inches, her chest is almost 16 inches and her waist is 11 inches. Our XXS harness is tightened all the way down. The primary issues with the chafing occur when the straps in her armpits get wet and dirty. It’s also an issue that the strap pad and buckle hit her elbow when she walks. I’ve been experimenting and trying “fixes” for literally two years. Nothing works because it causes extra bulk in her arm pit area, plus some other reasons I can’t exactly determine. I’ve even tried covering the straps with duct tape like I do my feet when I am getting blisters 🙂 *sigh*
Risk is complicated and we as a species aren’t great at thinking it through clearly. The illusion of control — if I do X and don’t do T, then Z won’t happen to me! — is tempting, but mostly false — but tempting! I figure we all get to decide what level and types of risk we’re comfortable with, prepare as best we can, and go from there. Soubds like you’re clear-eyed and flexible; that’s a good combo for making the right calls!
That’s the thing about IVDD…. there are no certainties. Avoiding X will not prevent another episode and doing Y will not cause it to happen. I know plenty of Dachshunds that do nothing “risky” and continue to have issues and just as many who do everything they are “not supposed to” with no further issues. I have no choice but to move forward with our life and accept what may come to be.
I hope all goes well for you and your dog but alot of your points sound like rationalization on your part. How will you feel if she does go down again? I’m sure, in your research, you’ve come across the number of dogs who rupture more than once. Good luck.
Well, that’s what people do – rationalize their decisions. I know I purposely wouldn’t make an irrational decision that doesn’t make sense to me and I know I’m not alone in that.
I’ve literally heard from over 100 people with Dachshunds that have had back issues over the years. In my non scientific, rough estimate, approximately 1/2 of the Dachshunds with IVDD have reoccurring issues. About 1/4 of those dogs have another episode severe enough to warrant surgery, either for the first time or again. Many of those make a good recovery but a small percentage of them remain paralyzed long-term.
To be clear, Gretel did not go down this time. I noticed some IVDD like symptoms and evidence of some pain so I took her in. She was diagnosed with the most minor case of IVDD a dog can be and still have the definitive diagnosis of the disease. As for how I would feel if she had another episode or went down, I can’t say exactly. I’ll have to cross that bridge when and if it happens. However, I am prepared to make adjustments in our lifestyle according to what she can handle and be willing to accept and handle the worst with no regrets if it happens. Following a plan that my vets agree with, and that allows her to enjoy life, is not something I would regret. If she goes down, it’s the luck of the draw, not my fault. However, restricting her for the rest of her life so neither of us really enjoy our time together out of fear, IS something to regret in my book.
My 13 year old Slinky (female, long-haired Doxie) has had 2 surgeries on her back and 2 more “minor episodes” where she rested for about 2-3 weeks and got better with rest. I have walked her almost every day since she was about one year old. I would also take her to the park and throw a baseball or tennis ball for her and she would sprint around the baseball diamond chasing the ball over and over.
At about 3 years old, she became partially paralyzed and was dragging herself with her front paws. We immediately did surgery and after a few weeks of recovery it was successful. I learned to keep her from jumping up/down stairs and/or furniture (thanks: ScramMats), how to pick her up keeping her back level and with two hands…Everything was back to normal.
Four years later, taking her to PetSmart pet hotel for a Thanksgiving weekend turned into surgery #2, her symptoms were not as bad but we went into surgery immediately not realizing that crate rest could have helped, we were not aware of that yet. After the second surgery, she slowed down a bit on her own. She will still play and walk but just not as long or hard. She will stop to rest after running a bit and I know she is ready to head home or to just walk.
Just 10 days ago her neck started hurting for no apparent reason, she’d slowly shake her head all the time and randomly yelp I thought it was an ear infection but turned out to be IVDD in her neck, as she screamed from pain at the vet when her head was pointed upwards , I nearly fainted feeling absolutely terrible and crushed for her. She is currently on week 2 of strict rest with medications (Metacam and Tramadol) but is in good spirits. I am hoping and praying she recovers with just rest.
When I look at her in the eyes we both know that she lived a fully active and loved life. If and when she is feeling better, I’m sure she would still LOVE to go for walks, even if it is at a slower pace and I’m more than happy to oblige.
Hi Ben. I’m sorry that you and your pup have struggled with the disease. I know that IVDD is a condition that has to be managed throughout a dog’s lifetime and, unfortunately, your experiences are fairly typical. I know several dogs that have needed more than one surgery and several more that have needed multiple periods of crate rest. I’m, of course, hopeful that Gretel will have few and only minor issues in the future but I know it’s a distinct reality that it might go differently. As you, my heart is 100% ok with managing her life so that she can minimize injury but still lead a happy, “regular dog” life. I’m willing to take one day at a time and make adjustments of needed.
This is such a well thought out post; I know you’ve done a lot of research and will continue to do so. You are one of the most dedicated pet parents out there, and while you may take risks, you are not reckless. The most important factor I think is that you are willing to make changes as needed. If hiking is too strenuous for Gretel, you will adjust her exercise. As a long time reader, I know how much Gretel means to you, and I know she is the best hands possible.
Thank you Beth. Yes, I believe my risks are very much thought out and calculated. The nature if risk is “the unknown” and “taking chances” but I know what kind of risk I am looking at and how that balances with the risk of not doing stuff.
I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. When my little guy was diagnosed with IVDD, I was heartbroken. Luckily he’s been coping with it well enough, but he’s still not the same. Best of luck!
Barley and I are still sending you and Gretel lots of good vibes, but we know she’s in the very best hands! I imagine that if it were up to Gretel, she’d be telling you that it would be ridiculous to try to keep her off the trails as well. I know Barley wouldn’t want to spend the rest of her life hanging out on the couch without ever getting to go on adventures again, so if we were in your shoes and the vet had said we could get back out there with a few extra precautions, we’d be setting the same goals!
My doxie had IVDD with paralysis, he had surgery; I had people tell me wasting that money on a “dog” was senseless. He lived a happy, active life after the surgery. We walked, hiked, kayaked… We live in Colorado so they were desert and mountain hikes. The trails were easier on him than concrete as he did drag his back toes a bit, just enough for a perfect pedi not skin damage (tried boots but those were torture to Bentley, he wouldn’t move). Sometimes he was carried up or down (his ass would pass him on steep slopes) and he was trained to wait at big rocks/steps for a “ride”. If I thought he needed a break I’d carry him against his will, he’d be pedalling his feet in my arms trying to get down.
Even at 16 he still sniffed the trail head poles, took a short spin and then he’d guard the van (during appropriate weather) while we did a longer hike.
I was never once told to limit his activity after surgery other than jumping. I would have backpacked him if necessary, he loved the outdoors.
I’m so glad education, research and attitude is changing around handicapable pets and issues like IVDD. There are great resources to help people who aren’t sure where to turn.
Thanks for sharing your story. Check out Husker’s Hope and Dodgerslist if you haven’t already.
Thanks for sharing that Emily. Colorado has a place in my heart and, of course, so to active Dachshunds 🙂 I’m glad to hear Bentley had many more wonderful adventures after surgery.
Our 7 yo Pekingese was diagnosed with IVDD last week. Wasn’t eating and crying out in pain. Took to vet and said to try 3 scripts. Methocarbnol, a steroid, Tramidol. Happy to report is feeling almost normal. ?
Thanks for all of the information you have gathered and posted. I have recently (over the last year) known of 3 people whose doxies were suddenly paralyzed due to IVDD, right here in my little town. Just yesterday at the vet I met a man who brought in his baby (suddenly paralyzed, 4 years old) and he said he couldn’t afford surgery. He looked so sad, and I got the impression he was there to have the dog put down. It terrified me. I was up crying all night because I wanted so badly to have helped, but I also now feel like it could happen any time to one of mine. These pups are my life. I read in one of your articles that you have pet insurance. Which carrier do you use? I have so many other questions, but I am still so upset about that little doxie.
Oh, that is heartbreaking. I hope he learned that there was alternative to putting his dog down. I’ve heard stories of Dachshunds making a recovery after prolonged crate rest with a regime of home exercises and massage.
Unfortunately, the risk of it happening to one of your dog’s in real. Approximately 1 in every 4 or 5 Dachshunds is diagnosed with the condition. However, of those diagnosed, may have mild symptoms like Gretel. Yes, they usually have several episodes over their lifetime but many of those are also mild. I know many dogs with IVDD that have gone on to lead a pretty normal life. It seems to me, after all of my research, that about 1/3 aren’t so lucky and end up paralyzed. I’ve known plenty of Dachshunds that were paralyzed, has surgery, and recovered to almost 100%. Surgery is expensive though. The average cost is $5,000 – $7,000. Because I probably wont’ever have that much money set aside for a surgery, I opted for pet health insurance. I have Trupanion because they cover genetically predisposed conditions like IVDD. Most pet insurance companies out there don’t. If you choose to go with pet insurance, and go with another company, please make sure that they will cover hereditary conditions. If they don’t, it’s not worth the money to get it.
I’ll be making these decisions soon, I think! Liam went in for his neuro visit this morning, and he did well on most of the exams–with one exception. He failed some strength tests in his left rear leg, and he showed some pain in that left rear leg. Apparently, he also has some muscle atrophy and stiffness in that leg, and a mild bit of pain at the portion of his back where the back leg nerves originate. The theory is that he has a mild slipped disc pinching his nerve, and it may have been like that for awhile but just got acutely worse over the weekend. The doc didn’t think he needed an MRI or a surgical correction at this point, since he has improved so much since Sunday. So he’s on 4 weeks of rest with medications, and then I’ll be looking closely at some rehab options. We have a great swim therapy program here that I might try. But it’s still early yet. Thanks for all of the info you’ve published thus far. It’s helped me a lot!
Sure. Liam’s condition sounds hopeful. It’s much like Gretel’s in that it originated in one leg and is mild. It was explained to me that her disk was “bulging” but that’s pretty much the same thing as slipped – they both put pressure on the spinal cord. If you talk to a rehab vet, I am sure they will give you exercises to strengthen that one leg and correct the imbalance. From what I’ve been told, that’s the key to keeping a pup like this active and healthy. Good luck and thanks for keeping me posted.
Have you researched or talked with a vet about laser disc ablation? It reduces the risk of rupture in dogs with or predisposed to IVDD. My Corgi, Rico ruptured a disc 4 years ago & had surgery, but was unable to use his back legs after . We worked diligently with a rehab vet/acupuncturist & he improved, but after about 8 mos decided it was time to get a wheelchair. The stinker hated it so much he decided to walk on his own after only about 2 weeks of use! We finally had disc ablation done last October & were able to stop doing regular therapy! He now requires only occasional “tune-ups” & is going strong! The experience inspired me to become a canine massage therapist.
Yes. I went armed with a list of every single treatment available out there and a bunch of questions 🙂 Gretel’s case of IVDD was mild and any procedure like that would have done more damage than good at this point. As you know, IVDD is genetic and an ongoing condition. If Gretel has another episode, and it’s more severe, we may look into treatments such as this and stem cell therapy. Hopefully she never needs surgery for paralysis but I know the reality is that she could some day.
Thanks for sharing your story though. I’m so happy that it helped your pup and I will certainly keep your story in mind if and when I need to have another discussion with my vet. It’s great too that your dog inspired you to find work you love. Gretel also inspired me 🙂
Thank you so much for this article… our 4 year old Frenchie recently had surgery for cervical IVDD and YES…I have been treating her like glass and I’m a bundle of nerves. Our neuro. Said it’s even ok to do leash walks now but I’m terrified. This was the most emotional, sad and scary situation to have gone through with our baby and your article was a healthy dose of a reality check. Thank you!!!
Hi Sarah. I’m sorry to hear about your pup. Gretel’s IVDD episode wasn’t bad enough to need surgery but it was still heartbreaking to see her in pain and I was more fearful of starting activity again than I thought. The thing I have to keep reminding myself is I am actually making the chance of reoccurance LESS by keeping her active. Now I see our walks as her daily “medicine”. A dog with IVDD can have a reoccurance and it’s highly likely that it can be from something simple around the house like jumping off of a chair, stairs, or getting up from a laying position to quickly. I totally get the fear and apprehension but if your vet said you can start walking your pup again I would. It helped me to start with short, 5-minute walks and make them longer. Gretel was ready to go right away but it helped ME to get my confidence up. Good luck to you.
Thank you so much for this. Reading this has given me hope. My dachshund Queenie was diagnosed with IVDD just a few days ago and I have been trying to educate myself as much as possible.
I am sorry to hear that. I hope things work out well for you and Queenie.
This was a great read as I am going through the same thing with my almost 12 year old beagle/chihuahua mix. The first IVDD occurrence was almost a year ago. We tried the laser treatment with him and it worked wonders! I am interested in trying acupuncture and other options to keep him healthy.
However, this weekend he had a minor flare up which we immediately recognized and gave him the meds and crate rest all weekend. Mainly he was trembling, hunched back, and some hobbling on the back legs.
I called the vet and they didn’t say he needed the strict 6 weeks of crate rest, but to try to keep him still. My question is, how to you handle minor flare ups with your dogs? Now that he is feeling better, he wants to go right back to normal. When you see the minor symptoms do you go back to crate rest for a period? My dog is an extremely energetic and happy little guy, so it is so hard to keep him confined for weeks at a time.
Hi Megan. I’m glad you found my post helpful. I’ve only had one flare-up with Gretel so far. I thought she ruptured another disk so I panicked and took her to the emergency vet. Over $200 later, they said it was probably just a flare-up due to muscle soreness, gave me some anti-inflammatories and a different type of steroid (than they did for the original injury) and said to reduce her activity for 10 days. I asked if we should do crate rest again and they said definitely not because they didn’t want to set her progress back. Now I have a better idea what a flare-up looks like versus a serious back injury. I have anti-inflammatories and pain meds always on hand now so I would do the same as you – give her the meds and rest her for a week to see if she feels better.
That being said, her flare-up wasn’t as bad as with your pup. She was very hesitant to walk and seemed to be in some pain but there was no hunching and she did not hobble on her back legs at all. If it’s ever that bad again, I will definitely take her to the vet just in case.
I hope that helps. Good luck and I hope that your pup continues to recover from this episode.
Thanks for the reply Jessica! My first instinct was to rush to the vet, but he gets very anxious and tense in the car. We realized that him getting tense was making it worse, so the vet advised to keep him calm and bring him in next week for a laser treatment.
It is so hard keeping him confined, but I have implemented some of your advice on surviving crate rest and he seems to be doing ok. Thanks for sharing so much information!
My pal BONES ia an eight year old mini-dachshund, and has a slipped disk.
Our vet put him on on steroids and ptescribed eight weeks of cage rest.
He seems to be improving; walks a lttle bit with some confidence; and would bolt after a squirrel here if he could.
His major problem was he was suddenly wobbly, and dragging his left leg.
We once lived in Ireland for 16+ years, and once we had a border collie for whom the traditional vets there could not treat. I managed to locate a homeopathic vet, and took her (SPOT) to him. One five minute meeting, and one dose of a homeopathic remedy (unknown) given to her, and SPOT went on to have a full recovery within a month.
For BONES’ condition (slipped disc) does anyone in NJ, PA, DE or NY know of a homeopathic vet in the USA (this area) capable of treating such a condition, if his present treatment is unsuccessful. We live about 45 minutes NE of Philadelphia now in Warwick, PA (18974)
Any advice in this regard would be appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Hi Hartley. I am not familiar with homeopathic vets in your area or aware of any homeopathic tretment that will cure a dog like that. You might want to join this facebook group and ask that question there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/408512465849039/. Good luck.
Hi my dog had ivdd and it’s been such a hard and worrying time he’s a cavalier. We’re in
Week 5 of recovery, he’s walking pretty well
Just trying to increase his exercise and improve his balance as he is wobbly sometimes and falls when lifting his back leg to wee. When taking him for a walk he pulls so much and I’m petrified he’s gonna injure himself more. The main problem I’m going to have is whilst I’m at work.
My mum has 2 dogs and stopping him from jumping with them is going to be very difficult. I currently just sleep
On a mattress to make sure he can’t jump on the bed like he used to. Have you got any advice at all? He’s currently having hydrotherapy on a treadmill once a week.
HiLindsey. I am sorry to hear about your pup. I get the pulling thing. Gretel pulls really hard and I am always fearful that she will injure her back doing it. I can’t do much about her pulling (I’ve tried several things before to get her to stop and it didn’t work) except to stop her for a minute when she is pulling super hard. As for the jumping with your Mom’s dogs, do you mean while they are playing or on an off the furniture when no one is home? My best advice is to either seperate the dogs with a crate or by barricading one dog in another room or prevent all of the dogs from jumping on the furniture, depending on what the exat issue is. For example, I used a few pet doorway barricades to surround the entire couch so they can’t jump up on it. Good luck.
Thank You for sharing your experience with IVDD. My rescue pup Jasper is 5. I think he is part yorkie but has a long back and short legs. Jasper was diagnosed with IVDD this week. Jasper was crossing his back legs as he walked, and cried out in pain. Vet has said 2 weeks of crate rest, but allows us to carry him or let him sit with us. I worry, about hurting him. Jasper is a spunky type of dog.
I know, I am going to constantly worry. Reading your story, helps alot.
Hi Jessica, I have a chihuahua named Archie. He was diagnosed with IVDD summer of 2015. He did okay on rimidyl for about a year, and then all of the sudden looked like he’d had a stroke and could stand straight. After trial and error with prednisone and tramodal I ended up taking him to get an MRI. He has several herniations, all “operable” but I just don’t have the money to get that done. I was lucky to have enough room on my credit card to pay for the MRI. Anyway, he has one very large herniation sitting like a rock on his spinal cord and that seemed to be the root of his crooked disposition. We did prednisone, gabapenton, and tramodal for about two months and he was doing great. Until three days ago he started doing aweful. With the doctors permission I doubled his dosage on prednisone and gabapenton, but that is the max he can have. Unfortunately I am not seeing much of a difference. Just a very loopy dog that feels good for about 45 minutes three times a day. He cries when I touch him by his head. He can hardly get into his food bowl to eat. I have been so gentle and calm trying to help him get out of this funk, but this time it seems like there is no way out. Was there a moment for your dog like this??? I feel like his quality of life is fading right now and I’m not sure what to do to help. He is 9 years old, and was very active and a happy go lucky dog before all of this started. I’m just need some advice outside of the vets office to help me get his life back if I can. Right now it is just drugs, drugs, and more drugs 🙁
Hi Claudia. Sorry for my delayed reply.
Sorry to hear about Archie. You say he is on medication but is he also on strict crate rest. You say “he can barely get to his food dish” so that leads me to believe that he is allowed to walk around the house freely? I am not vet but from what I understand he won’t have much hope getting better with drugs alone. I’ve read stories from people who couldn’t afford surgery for their paralyzed Dachshund. They pretty much had to keep them on crate rest for months, and perform rehab exercises at home like stretching and range of movement exercises, but their dogs gained some mobility back. This Facebook group might help you. They are super knowledgeable. https://www.facebook.com/groups/408512465849039/. Here is a blog post I wrote on crate rest if you need to do that: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/
If he is on crate rest and you are still having these issues, your options are probably only to wait longer or to try and get funding for some surgery. My friend’s dog just had laser disk ablation and she’s doing great. I imagine that wasn’t cheap though. At the very least, I would try to get some money to try laser and/or acupuncture treatments to help with healing. Your own vet might poo poo that but it’s worked for a lot of dogs. A holistic vet or animal rehab vet bill be able to help you will that and do a thorough assessment to see if they think it might help.
Gretel’s incident was mild so surgery was not even recommend for her. Still, we did 6 weeks of strict crate rest and months of rehab. She is fully recovered now… although I know it could happen again in the future.
Good luck with everything and I hope there is a positive outcome for you guys.
We actually started crate rest today. He only eats when I’m at home and his bowl is elevated to keep him from leaning over. Just one morning of crate rest and he has already shown progress. Lately when I come home on my lunch break he is very crooked. Like yesterday for example I came home and he went under my bed and wouldn’t come out for me. I think allowing him to have free range in my 650 sqft apartment was too much based on what I am observing today. I just always thought he slept all day when I was gone, but who knows?? Maybe he stands at my door waiting for me to come home or tries to play with my cat?? I’m going to continue the crate when I am not at home. Hopefully I will see some progress. When I am home though he doesn’t do anything. He just lays down next to me on the couch. So I know he is resting and not walking around. I’m thinking the crate will be the way to make SURE he is doing the same thing when I am gone. I’m happy we are having a good day compared to what I have been dealing with since last Thursday.
I have looked into laser and acupuncture, but unfortunately with all of the vet visits and MRI costs I am not capable of much more financially. He was a candidate for surgery, but she let me know that he has about 3 or 4 potential surgery locations on his spine that would likely need operations within the next year. I just can’t fathom paying, not that I could anyway, for this first one and it only buying us a few months before the next surgery would need to take place.
Thank you for the links and the blog post in general. It is all very helpful. I will keep you posted!!
Hi Jessica! Love your blog. We are fellow Seattlites! Just wondering how Gretel is doing now? My wired haired doxie Millie just had her first bout with IVDD and it’s been one month. I would be interested in Gretel’s apparent pain levels will she was in the early stage of recovery. We are dealing with a lot of trembling and muscle spasms in Millie’s neck. We are doing acupuncture and massage, but I wonder how long she will have to be on pain meds. Is Gretel still on any meds now? How is she doing?
Hahaha, no I don’t need to treat my ivdd dog like breakable glass, well my dog is very active he does many things for me liking bring glass and other stuff, I appreciate you for sharing as this article was very interesting
Not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but stem cell therapy is a viable option for IVDD. Normally only veterinarians in the University setting have the equipment needed to treat IVDD with stem cells, but if you ever get to Houston, TX, Dr Steven Garner is one of very few private vets with his own stem cell lab, and who has treated IVDD patients quite successfully. Stem cells regenerate the brittle cartilage, and by injecting the discs that have not yet collapsed, but are headed in that direction, the IVDD can be stopped in its tracks. Please visit us at @IVDDAnswers on Facebook. Would love to see Gretel continue to love the outdoors without this looming over her for the rest of her life!
Yes, I’m aware. I discussed every single treatment out there for the condition, experimental or not. We discussed things like a hyperbaric chamber and laser disk ablation too. Gretel was only Stage II. She didn’t require surgery and any treatment like that would have been overkill… and possibly done more harm than good. It’s certainly on my radar if she has a more severe incident later though. Luckily, we are in Seattle and have access to one of the best University medical centers on the country. I know someone who traveled here from California to have stem cell treatment on her dog. Thanks for mentioning it though in case I didn’t know.
My dog Elwood is a Dixie mix. He’s very muscular. Not as short and long as a pure Dixie. He seemed very sturdy and very active. He had weakness in his back legs and within a day went totally paralyzed in his back legs. We did immediate emergency surgery. He did walk again although had considerable weakness in one leg and could no longer do stairs without assistance and could not jump. He’s currently having another episode. We a were told he needed surgery again. He was not walking. Although we knew he still had feeling in his legs and feet and could still move his legs. We did not want to do surgery again. We were then told that we could wait and see what happens but they didn’t seem hopeful. They made us feel surgery was his only chance. There were many factors for us to consider and it was very difficult. But we stick to our guns to say no surgery and deal with whatever was going to happen. The very next day…HE WALKED. It hasn’t even been a week but he’s been a little better every day. He has a recheck in a couple days. We are hopeful he can recover to a manageable level. This has been very scary and I’m a little angry and disappointed that the vet made surgery appear to be his ONLY option for recovery. I love my dog dearly but for those of you that are unaware..we paid over $5000.00 for his surgery just 3 months ago. It’s not so easy to just come up with that amount of money. It’s a shame that the financial aspect has to come into play. And then I was made to feel guilty for not wanting to do the surgery without being informed that with rest there was a decent chance of recovery. The dog seems in very good spirits and he wants to be as active as possible. It’s been hard to keep him resting. If anything we’ve learned a lesson that we may have to be more careful with him since he had a recurrence so soon after his surgery. We are remaing hopeful he’ll get better and that we can manage his condition and prevent any major problems going forward. I’m so happy to have found this blog and to hear everyone’s experiences. It’s been a big help to me.
Sorry that happened to your pup. I wouldn’t be too irritated. In most cases of paralyzation, surgery is THE recommendation and provides the best hope of recovery. There are people, like you, though that can’t afford it and want to take their chances. It is too bad that the vet made you feel guilty for going the non-surgery route though. I’m glad it worked out really positively for you guys. Strict crate rest is certainly key to his continued progress. I assume you already went through a long period of crate rest after his surgery so you have experience with it. If you are feeling discouraged though, you might want to read my article on surviving crate rest: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/. Good luck!
My Cocker Spaniel over the past year has had 2 surgeries from IVDD and was paralyzed but recovered to being able to walk after the surgeries. In between he also had episodes of pain and was treated medically. 10,000 dollars spent plus over 4 months of crating. We recently decided to do the Laser Disc Ablation on him. It Lower His chance of reoccurrence to 3%. He has recovered but it is still hard to not think this will happen again. The LDA was done at Ok State University Vet College where they pioneered this procedure. He has a wobbly walk after all his episodes but is happy to be out of the crate and just being a member of the family again. I am so happy there is a preventative treatment. Wish we had done it earlier.
I’ve only heard great things about the laser disk ablation. If Gretel has a more serious IVDD episode in the future, I’m definitely going to look into it.
I am so happy Gretel can hike again and she has made a strong recovery…
my 1 1/2 french bulldog has just been diagnosed with IVDD however he hasnt had the MRI scan yet he was in bouts if pain and screaming on Monday they gave him a heavy pain killer and now is on 6 weeks crate rest and anti inflammatory . Last night he woke at 2 am crying in pain, i I panicked and was very upset as I thought this can only mean back to square one. I contacted the vet they have given me some Tramadol to help ease the flare up. Did you have any problems during the crate rest? my Gusto get s so happy to see me come home he jumps up and gets so excited even in the cage I can keep him calm… i am scared everything i take him to the bathroom hes going to make it worse.
What can I do to help my baby, he is my world and I am so nervous I am going to have to put him to sleep… i cant bare to see him in pain… its so stressful for both him and I.. I love him so much he is such a cuddle and such an active dog hes the perfect weight and a walking muscle who loves to play and run.
any advice or home remedies would be greatly appreciated.
sincerely, Maxine (worried IVDD mommy) xxx
Hi Maxine. Sorry to hear about Gusto. Gretel has stage II IVDD and we never did an MRI. It’s not really needed unless you plan to move forward with surgery (which is usually only necessary if they are paralyzed or things are getting significantly worse) I’m told. You could do it out of your own curiosity I guess but it was too expensive for me when it wasn’t going to change our treatment protocol. We didn’t have any problems during the crate rest. Her pain was high the moment the back injury occurred but then started to lessen a bit on it’s own. I only had to give her pain medicine for about a week after. I can’t speak for your pup’s specific situation but my rehab vet said as long as I kept Gretel on a short leash so she couldn’t wander, and carried her to and from her crate, it was unlikely she would injure herself further during the potty breaks. I was surprised by the anxiety I felt about re-injuring her during the crate rest and after. I’m told that is very natural. If a dog has IVDD, the truth is that it CAN happen again. I didn’t want to restrict her for the rest of her life though. I wouldn’t say I have any “home remedies” but we did a lot of rehab with Gretel to help prevent future problems. You can read about that here: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-exercises-for-strengthening-balance-and-body-awareness/. I also have an article on things you can do at home: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-treatment-things-you-can-do-at-home/. Please check out my entire page of resources if you haven’t already. http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/inervertebral-disk-disease-ivdd-resources/. Good luck to you guys.
Thank you so much for this article. My dog was recently diagnosed with ivdd and I lost it. This article have me comfort that it will be ok. Thank you again for some peace of mind.
I’m sorry to hear you and your pup are going through this. The IVDD diagnosis was devastating for me since we are so active. Luckily, I’d seen a lot of dogs with it so knew that complete recovery was a possibility. Unfortunately, each dog is different though. I have done a lot to make sure she recovered and to increase the chances that she remains injury free in the future. I’m not sure if you read my other articles about our IVDD journey but here is the main page that list the other that I wrote: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/inervertebral-disk-disease-ivdd-resources/. What’s been especially helpful for us has been the rehab exercises. You can read about those here: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-exercises-for-strengthening-balance-and-body-awareness/. Good luck to you guys.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to read your positive comments! Now, I want to ask your opinion. I have a 7 yr old Pomeranian that is active, full of life and always ready to go Bye-Byes! He had some seizures in the past but has been on meds for a year and not had a single one since then. Last week I came home, he was on couch, trembling really bad. I thought it was a seizure but found out later it wasn’t. I picked him up and he yelped. Took him to vet the next morning , did x-ray and Vet said he has degenerative disc disease. Tried to show me x-ray and said “she how this one is narrower than the other”? I SAW NOTHING different, but I’m not a vet. Anyway, she put him on crate rest for 2-3 wks, steroids and muscle relaxers. The next morning he was fine. He acts like he feels perfectly fine and normal. Best dog in the world…never whimpers, cries or tries to get out of crate. When I take him out to use the bathroom, he is bee-bopping around like always, no limping, no whimpering, bounces around in the yard, tries to take off running but I won’t let him , etc. My question is……could this have just been a flare-up and it’s over now? Vet said nothing was bulging or herniated and he isn’t paralyzed or never even limped when it happened. Could he have just jumped up on the couch the wrong way and irritated it? The steroid is for inflammation, so could that all be gone now and he’s fine? I just don’t know if I need to keep him from jumping up / down on couch or bed FOREVER now???? Thank you again for all your great encouragement!
Hi Sarah. Just because a dog is not in pain and returns to normal activities/behavior, doesn’t mean the underlying issue is resolved. Crate rest is important so the body can heal itself to help prevent a re-occurrence of injuries. I can’t peak for what the vet did or didn’t see, or what the cause of his injury might have been, but if the vet says to keep him on crate rest for 3 weeks, I would absolutely do so. If the vet said he has degenerative disk disease then, yes, you should minimize his jumping from here on out. I have a ramp (the Snoozer scalloped ramp) and a wood fence around my couch so the ramp is the only way they can get on or off the couch. I have also placed my mattress directly on the floor so they don’t have far to jump. Those things might not work for you but I’m just trying to say that I have made modifications to my house to minimize any humping since Gretel has IVDD. Good luck!
Thank you for your advise. I got two little steps for him to get on the couch, but haven’t used it yet. Still keeping him in crate for another week or so. I DO let him out sometimes but keep him on leash . I just let him lay on the porch with me to get some fresh air. He isn’t walking around or anything just laying there with me so I don’t see how that is any different than laying in crate. I guess my question is….do these “flare-ups” come and go? I mean…do they normally go back to themselves after a flare-up has healed? You don’t have to crate them for the rest of their lives right? He’s such a happy lil guy!
Yes, flare ups can come and go. It’s my understanding that after proper crate rest, the disk that caused the issue is “healed”. There is a 20% chance that another disk could have an issue though so they could injure their back again, requiring additional treatment/crate rest. However, some dogs never have an episode again. It just varies by dog.
Thank you so much Jessica!!!! I know you aren’t a vet, but I almost appreciate your advise even MORE than the vet!!! He has done so well and now seems to love his crate so I’m going to let him stay in it as long as he wants to. I miss him snuggling with me at night though. But he is running and playing like before. I’m still keeping him from jumping though and trying to discourage the running. Thanks again for all your advice!
Thank you for this and all your other articles… my dapple “Shaggy” is on crate rest! His 8 weeks will end on July 5. Your advice eased my worries. Shaggy was very active and I want to help him stay active! Thank you so much!
Glad it helped Terri. I know many Dachshunds who experienced back problems and went on to live a pretty normal active life (flare ups are possible but not guaranteed).
Hello, My Frenchie Harlow was diagnosed with IVDD. From my research I concluded she is on the mild side, stage one. When she as an “episode” she just shakes, pants and hunches over. It lasts about 45 mins and once done she’s completely back to normal. When I first met with the specialist he was pushing for the surgery. I explained I have read about other options such as conservative treatment and acupuncture. I told him due to the high cost of surgery and the fact that her symptoms were so mild that I would prefer this route. He agreed and she’s now been on strict rest for 3 weeks. The fist two weeks she was taking valium, Gabapentin and Rimedyl. Now she is only on the Gabapentin and we go back to the specialist in a week. She seems to be having more mild “episodes” she just pants and looks a bit uncomfortable but the intense shaking is gone. I am praying this more mild episode means she is healing? We have an acupuncture specialist coming to visit next week and I am hopeful this helps her healing process. Its been so hard for us and her little frenchie sister to watch her sit in a crate all day and have episodes. We just purchased a doggy stroller so we can start our family walks again. Does anyone who has gone through IVDD with conservative treatment know if the mild episodes are a sign of healing?
Hi Heather. I’m sorry Harlow and your family are dealing with this. I am not a veterinarian and it sounds like you have one that knows what he is doing. I can share my experience though.
Gretel’s initial back episode is as you described. However, she started acting normal within an hour. I took her to the vet though and they diagnosed her with IVDD. Her condition wasn’t bad enough to warrant surgery so they didn’t suggest it. We went with the conservative treatment recommended. She never seemed in pain again but we kept her on strict crate rest for 8 weeks so we knew she was actually healed.
I have head about many Dachshunds with IVDD through blog readers, people from my Facebook groups on the topic, and from the members of my 500 member Dachshund club. Some Dachshunds have gone through surgery and some have gone the route of conservative treatment (surgery may or may not have been recommended initially). In NO cases have I heard of a dog on crate rest continuing to have episodes and who did not need surgery (assuming they didn’t already have it). It’s a situation where crate rest is tried and if the dog continues to improve, no surgery is needed. If they do not get better, or get worse, then surgery is suggested. Now, not everyone can afford surgery so they have no choice but to stick with conservative treatment and hope for the best. In some cases, the dog does improve on their own over a period of several months.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it’s entirely possible that Harlow will need surgery. However, what you are interpreting as additional “episodes” might not be what you think or be as bad as you think. Panting and looking uncomfortable could also be anxiety from being restricted to the crate. Make sure you talk to your vet as soon as you can and explain what is going on. He can tell you how to proceed better than I can. Good luck!
When is it good to start water therapy exercises for my chihuahua that may have this disease?
Hi Vanessa. That’s something only your veterinarian or a dog rehab specialist can determine. In Gretel’s case, I believe she started hydrotherapy 2 weeks after her back injury. Her case was mild though and she did not need surgery. I highly suggest you check with your vet to confirm your pup has IVDD and, if so, how bad it is. I’m sorry you guys are dealing with this. Good luck.
Our Dachshund, Oscar, was diagnosed with IVDD about 6 weeks ago. We couldn’t afford surgery, so opted for a consertive treatment plan. He has been on crate rest since diagnosis. His course was complicated by a serious bladder infection, which he has recovered from. My question concerns some of the other problems that have happened because of Oscar being on crate rest, particularly problems with hair loss on his hind knees and feet and some odd sores he developed. We are in the Seattle area and would love to see up a Veterinary Physical therapist. I’d like to talk (via email or phone) to someone whose dachshund has been paralyzed, to get ideas on how to care for Orcar. Our vet has been awesome while treating Oscar for the initial issues he had, but now I feel like we need someone that is focused on rehab. We are also very interested in your Dachshund club. It was helpful to read this story about Gretchen and also the other dachshund owners emails! Thank you for your help!
Hi Sheryl. Gretel was not paralyzed but some people in our Dachshund club own dogs that have been. You can join the club here and ask questions in our Facebook group.
Even though Gretel was not paralyzed, we did extensive rehab so she was strong enough to hike again. I highly, highly recommend Dr. Eide at the Animal Surgical Clinic up in Shoreline. They have an underwater treadmill for dogs and will teach you exercises you can do with Oscar at home. If you want a trainer to help you and Oscar better learn those exercises, and for him to swim in a poll for rehab instead of walk on an underwater treadmill, I suggest Splashdog in Edmonds. Definitely get an assessment with Dr. Eide first before starting any new exercises though. Good luck to you guys.
I stumbled across this today and I just have to say thank you! We have a Shih tzu, who got up one morning in excruciating pain and walking as if she were drunk or had a stroke, but you could tell she was in a lot of pain. Never having any experience with this I completely panicked and thought it was the end of my baby girls life at only 3 years old. We are only on our 8th day of crate rest and I know we have a long road to go but this was so encouraging for me. I’ve had cried almost constantly for a week because I’ve basically heard nothing but doom and gloom. When she first showed signs of the disc problem it was Labor Day and we had to drive her over an hour away to find an animal hospital open, we did not feel like the end result was going to be good after leaving there that day, however I’m happy to report she is very slowly improving and is now wagging her tail again, and can stand briefly on her own. I’m not aware of any type of therapy services in our area, honestly I had no idea they existed anywhere, but I will be looking for one, I want to give my little girl every chance to live a full active life. Thank you again for sharing your story, I really really needed to read this today.
My Corgi was the same– IS the same, and we are only on day 3. Im sure this was starting and I didn’t recognize the symptoms. She is on meds for now but I can’t afford surgery costs. All I did was cry, she is in so much pain. I think/ hope the meds will help. The Vets were “doom and gloom”. I so needed this today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I do hope that you and Gretel are going from strength to strength. Yes, we are going through this with, Leo, our beloved 9 years old Shih Tzu, some distance from you, in Scotland, UK! I can’t tell you how much your calm, sensible and loving approach has helped us to remain positive in the very difficult, early days of this IVDD diagnosis. Your replies to the many enquiries you have received are so helpful to us and I am beginning to feel confident that we will be able to help our little dog to heal from his first episode of IVDD, diagnosed less than a week ago. We new nothing of this disease before it happened, so it has been truly shocking to experience. Our vet has been very careful to let us know just how serious things are but he, like us, was cheerful and relieved today see just a very little (but still good) improvement with Leo. So, thank you for all the detailed, practical advice, which we have found very, very encouraging as well as straightforward to follow.
I came across this blog after doing a search for IVDD treatments and options. My chihuahua/dachshund mix and I literally just came back from a vet visit after him explaining that the extreme pain, yelping, difficulty walking is most likely IVDD. Now, these symptoms were only really bad for about 3 days, since then he’s been walking fine to the bathroom (I’ve been carrying him most everywhere else and have kept him in his bed). He did have a less painful experience back in pay when he yelped when walking, but at the time the vet couldn’t determine what it was. I can’t tell you what a relief this page has brought as the vet recommended an MRI and surgery even though he isn’t paralyzed. Is that common? I certainly cannot afford even the MRI needed to even CONFIRM that it is IVDD. The information in the article and replies to comments alone were so helpful. I will do my best to keep the crate confinement ongoing, though he does hate being alone like that, and I worry that would make things worse. Would you have any advice? I’m honestly a little frightened about what to expect, but I am glad it’s not worse than it is so far.
My Corgi was the same– IS the same, and we are only on day 3. Im sure this was starting and I didn’t recognize the symptoms. She is on meds for now but I can’t afford surgery costs. All I did was cry, she is in so much pain. I think/ hope the meds will help. The Vets were “doom and gloom”. I so needed this today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
My Shih Tzu Lil Bit, who turned 4 March 6, 2018, started having symptoms in December. Got really bad in January. We weren’t sure what was wrong. I thought it was something in his abdomen – but of course, everything’s connected in that little body. So vet put him on steroids which worked GREAT except that, just like in humans, it made him ravenous. He was back to normal the same day I started the steroid treatment which made me extremely happy. Two weeks after we finished the steroid treatment, it was back. We tried a smaller dose, shorter cycle and he didn’t even make it through that one so we did an xray. Showed nothing but still got a diagnosis of IVDD. In March we had an MRI which clearly showed a ruptured disc pressing on his spine. It also showed not so healthy discs along the middle of his back (IVDD in 3d). Surgeon put him back on steroids (which worked great) while I made up my mind about surgery. Everything I read did not recommend surgery if there was any alternative – but I couldn’t find any other alternative wi the evidence of a ruptured disc. Maybe I didn’t look thoroughly enough.
But the end of March, Lil Bit had surgery. Did so well afterwards that he only had to stay 1 nite instead of 3. If your pet has surgery, be prepared for up to 8 medicines at different intervals during the day. And if on steroids, be prepared for a personality change as they get better and become more demanding for MORE FOOD, MORE FOOD. LOL
By our last checkup, the neurosurgeon was EXTREMELY pleased wi how well he’d recovered and laughed when I begged to take him off the steroids. He gained some weight during this process but we’ll get it off eventually. I’m just so thankful I have my loving, playful puppy back. And if I have to do it again, so be it, but I’ll not keep my Shih Tzu in a glass cage — it’s not his style.
Lil Bit is fully recovered and is learning to use a ramp to get on and off the bed and I’ve had a ramp built on the side of my ranch house so he can get into the yard without stairs.
Wow. What an ordeal. I’m glad things are looking up for you guys.
Hi everyone! My name is Shandra, and Bubbles is our 10 year old piebald Dachschund!
Last Friday, Bubbles ended up having lower back pain and suddenly lost some mobility in her back right leg. All of the other 3 are working fine.
We took her to the emergency clinic (because dont all emergencies happen at night or on the weekends?!) And she was diagnosed with Stage 2/3 IVDD.
Crate rest, as well as Gabapentin, Methocarbamol, and Prednisone (as well as Pepcid) are all part of our daily routine.
My question is, at 3-4 days out, has anyone done the acupuncture? I dont want to wait, but I also dont want to push anything too soon. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
Hi Shandra. I’m sorry about your pup. If I remember right, it was at least a week before our vet let me take Gretel to acupuncture, maybe two. I think that was primarily because she was to stay immobile in the crate so moving her around to get to an appointment was too risky.
This article is so positive. Thank you- some great ideas here! ?
Hi Melody, I’m glad you found my article helpful. IVDD is so tricky. Some dogs seem to have one episode and be done and some seem to have issues over and over again. In my experience, it has more to do with luck/genetics and the healing/rehab quality/length than it does with being active or not after.
Hi there! Thank you for sharing your story and offering guidance and hope. Our dachshund Andi, was diagnosed with ivdd 12 days ago. It seems to be an early stage and she was recommended muscle relaxants, steroids, and pain meds along with 10 days of crate rest. I’m wondering if that is a normal amount of crate rest given her stage of ivdd. I’m wondering if Gretel was in a similar stage but had a longer length of cage rest?
That is way to short of crate rest in my opinion but I’m no vet. Gretel was stage 2 (the earliest they can detect) and we did 10 weeks of crate rest. It takes a minimum of 5-6 weeks with little to no motion for scar tissue to to form over the disk and heal it. Our rehab vet recommended 8 week for Gretel just for extra measure since I wanted to give her the best chance to be injury free in the future (a dog can keep having an issue with the same disk if not given enough time to heal – it’s always a possibility that another disk will have an issue though). My hubby and I decided to do crate rest for 10 weeks since it wasn’t going to hurt and we were all already in the routine. With that being said, it’s not good either to keep your dog in the crate 100% of the time after the first few weeks of healing because their muscles can atrophy. Our rehab vet said Gretel should always be in there at home but, under supervision, we started taking her for short walks and doing doggie gym exercises to build up strength. You can read about those here: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-exercises-for-strengthening-balance-and-body-awareness/. I would talk with your vet about any walks and exercises you plan to do though. Good luck.
I have a 2 year old pekingese named Moochi. We noticed he was acting different he wasn’t showing signs of pain just discomfort. Within 2 days he had paralysis in his hind legs. Our vet prescribed Prednisone, Gabapentin and Famotidine . We have him on crate rest so far it’s 13 days and on meds. He has no problems with eating, drinking, knuckling, walking, urinating or defecating except for the constipation. It seems as though his pain meds don’t last long because he will start to whine and have his head facing down. I immediately give him his pain meds and about an 1 hour later he seems to be a little more comfortable. I am trying to lap his pain meds but im having a hard time because sometimes he can go without for 6 hours and some times up to 3 hours. I was wondering if i’m doing something wrong or if this usually what happens in the early stages of diagnosis? I have had 3 pekingeses before my little guy Moochi and none of them had this disease. I am educating myself since his diagnosis.
Hi Anita. I think your question is about administering pain medication. If not, feel free to clarify.
For the first week, I have Gretel pain medication around the clock with no gaps in between (so, every 4-6 hours or whatever the label said). Then I cut the dose in half but still help giving it to her with no gaps in between. She didn’t appear to be in any pain so the following week I gave her 1/4 dose with no gaps and then eventually stopped giving it to her. That’s just the method I used. It’s not necessarily the “right” one.
I’ve known of several dogs that were not able to wean off the pain medication so quickly. Each dog progressed differently and some are in more pain for longer. Also, the pain can be more mild one day and worse the next for some. Your dog is still clearly experiencing pain from the injury. Personally, I wouldn’t wait until my dog was clearly showing the pain to give the medication. I would rather know that they are comfortable all the time (because, keep in mind, a dog won’t typically show they are in pain right away. They usually won’t show they are in pain until it’s really bad). I would keep giving me dog the regular dose on schedule or perhaps dropping it down to a half dose on a regular schedule to see if that works.
For the constipation, adding a tablespoon of pureed, canned pumpkin (unsweetened) to each meal might help. Good luck.
Reading this makes me so sad – 2 years ago today, my Heidi was diagnosed with this. Last January she was paralyzed in her hind legs after a big jump. I took her in to the vet and they only gave me the option of surgery or to put her down. I took her in to a specialist ER vet and they gave me the same options. I brought her home as I knew I could not afford the surgery. She was very sedated and uncomfortable. They gave me no hope and I felt like I was making her suffer. I ended up taking her back in and put her down. I was scared, I thought I was putting her through more pain and reading your stories makes me feel like I made the wrong choice. I wish I would have dug a little deeper and did more research.
Hi Eryn. I’m very sorry you had that experience. I’m not a vet but I do think, in some cases, that surgery IS the only viable option if you are not ready to let your dog go. Only your vet can know the exact circumstances of the injury. However, in the future, I would check out the websites Dodgerslist and K9BackPack. They have some really good advice for those that can’t afford surgery. Sadly, sometimes it is a case where a vet assumes you don’t want to deal with extensive rehab, or a paralyzed or partially paralyzed dog if they don’t fully recover, so they say putting them down is the only viable option if you’re not doing surgery.
In our case, and what prompted me to write this article, my dog only had a mild IVDD injury and surgery was not recommended. I certainly don’t think it’s fair (to yourself) to compare your situation to my dog’s experience.
Hi eryn. You’re not the only one; if you’re available for a chat I’d like to hear from you?
Hi, are you able to send me an email for a chat? It’s firstname.lastname@example.org
Unfortunately I have been in the same boat as you and my life is a mess now
Hi there thank you so much for writing this article it has really made me see the light at the end of the tunnel, My french bulldog Sonny got rushed into emergency vets 2.30am in the morning he was diagnosed with ivd and had lost feeling on his back legs 6 weeks of cage rest( not really cage rest as we just blocked of the stairs and couch so he cudnt jump on anything) hes walking and back to his cheeky self but im still not happy he has come of all his medication as the vet told me to take him off it but i find walking him is a nightmare i walk him to the top of the road and back which is no more than 10mins and when i get home his right side leg shakes and he just lies down alot which is a shock really as he used to go out for hours on end with us and would still want to carry on. Im starting hydrotherapy next week but just dont know if this is what he is going to be like forever im so grateful that he is walking but just feel like im worried about taking him out for to long and we are set back i feel like the vets only tell you so much and leave you to try and work out the rest i just want my sonny back to his normal active self hes 2 years old and feel that this is only the start of his life.
Hi Lizzie. I am sorry you and your pup are going through this.
I do implore you to abide by the strict crate rest. He should not be walking at all in order to allow the scar tissue to form over the problem disk. It’s the only way he can truly heal and not continue to have issues with the same disk (there is always a chance another disk could go bad though).
It’s not easy to do strict crate rest but it’s so important. If you don’t believe me, check out Dodgerslist.com. I wrote this article to help people get through the crate rest period with their IVDD dog: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/.
A dog will start to act like they feel better even though they are not healed internally. Dogs have a tendency to mask, or ignore, pain so “acting like his normal self” is not a good indicator for when it’s time to go off crate rest. The fact that he is shaking and lies down when you get back from walks screams to me that he is not healed. I’m not a vet though so I would definitely ask yours for your opinion. Just be aware that I have heard more often than not that vets play down the need for a full-recovery crate rest period.
The strict crate rest is the main factor that allowed Gretel to get back to normal activity and for me to have the confidence that I didn’t need to treat her like she would break (ie. write this article)
That being said, it seems normal and ok (according to our rehab vet) to start supervised hydrotherapy sessions even if he is on crate rest at home.
Good luck to you guys.
Thanks for your article. But I am very confused after reading it. So did your dog have surgery or not? My older dachshund had surgery and yes, of course, she is as active as a horse. This is a very well known fact among most of us dachshund owners (as many of our dachshunds have had the surgery.)
But my question is with my second dog which is not a dachshund. She is 13 now. If she does not have surgery, or if she becomes paralyzed, will she die from it (e.g. PMM or bleeding in the spinal cord)? Can a dog with IVDD becomes paralyzed (without surgery) but still lives happily with a wheelchair (but with no surgery)? Or without surgery, she may die from it? I don’t mind the bowel or urine incontinence at all (even though she is not at that stage yet). She seems very happy now even though she is limping or could not walk more than a few steps on some days. She loves her food so much. She loves massage. She loves to sleep in bed with me (and will cry if not allowed on the bed.)
I just found out it is IVDD. I never suspected it as she seemed to have zero pain and was ultra happy–but in terms of her movements, I believe the vet’s diagnosis.
Hi Irene. I’m sorry to hear about your pup.
Your “of course” and “very well known fact” statements about Dachshunds that have the surgery – as I interpret what you are saying – are incorrect. Surgery is not always effective and not all Dachshunds recover to normal activity. I know many who still had to be put down after surgery because they continued to decline or needed a second surgery. I just want to make sure you understand that. A good veterinarian, if they recommend surgery, will explain your dog’s chance of recovery with it. Rarely with a vet 100% guarantee a recovery (if at all because, well, life is unpredictable). Depending on the severity and location of the condition, a more reasonable estimate of recovery chances is 50-70%.
But to your first question, no, surgery was not recommended for Gretel.
I personally know several Dachshunds that have partially or fully recovered with a few months of conservative treatment (primarily, strict crate rest) and rehab. I’ve also heard of several others where that was the case. However, some dogs don’t recovery. That “non recovery” could range from still being healthy despite not being able to use their legs to the disease continuing to progress, causing the dog to have to be put down or die due to complications. The ones that merely can’t use their legs are able to live a good life in a doggy wheelchair. It is important to note that, often, those same dogs are not able to poop or pee on their own so the owner has to be willing to commit to expressing their bladder and bowels themselves (you can find plenty of instructions online for how to do that and/or a veterinarian could teach you – which it sounds like you are totally prepared to do).
The truth is that there is no guarantee, with or without surgery. Since your pup is otherwise healthy, and it doesn’t seem like her IVDD status is not deteriorating, I hope that you have many more good years with her.
My name is Griselda. I took my dog in 3 days ago because we noticed he wasn’t his normal self. We have a 5 yr old maltipoo- Took him again yesterday and the blood work and xrays looked fine. Doctor did say, I have a feeling of IVDD but let’s see how he does in the next weeks. I came from work today and he was dragging his back leg. 3 work but one isn’t as well. He looks like a drunk doggie and goes sideways. I got medication from my vet yesterday, steroids, muscle relaxer and pain meds. I am taking him tomorrow to a neurologist my vet recommended to check for IVDD. I am scared. Vet told me to put him in a crate confinement. I am going to google what that specifically means as I am at work all the time and have no one else to help me w him. IF it is IVDD, I am not sure about the surgery. We have pet insurance but we know its out of pocket at first. What are my options do you think? Any, any help is appreciated.
I’m sorry you are going through this with your pup.
Yes, crate rest is the #1 treatment for IVDD. Even if it’s not that, I would recommend doing that immediately until you know. Any injury can benefit from restricting mobility. Here is my blog post about what crate rest means. It also gives some tips on how to deal with it. https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/
Depending on the severity, surgery may not even be recommended. Instead, you may be instructed to continue medication and crate rest. The technical term for this is “conservative treatment” and many dogs mostly or fully recover after 6-12 weeks of it. Things like hydrotherapy, cold laser, and acupuncture can also help but they can be expensive and many pet insurance companies don’t cover it. it doesn’t hurt to check though. Even if surgery is recommended, although I absolutely recommend doing it if you can, not everyone can afford it. Some veterinarians will say that the only option in that case is to put a dog to down but that is not always true. Many who surgery was recommended for have still recovered with conservative treatment. I know others that happily lived out their lives in a dog wheelchair.
Good luck to you guys.
First of all, I LOVE the name (whatyoudidwithyourweiner)!!! I needed a good laugh.
Second, I want to thank you for all the information. On Friday, I was afraid putting my doxie Maia down was probably going to be an inevitability. She woke up that day in severe pain, refusing water and food, and dragging her hind legs. The doc at the emergency vet clinic gave me the impression that surgery was the only viable option. Unfortunately that’s out of the question, we simply can’t afford it. I’d be hard pressed to come up with $5000-$6000 cash for treatment for my husband or myself! We were sent home with medication and instructions for crate rest, and I did what I always do… I hit the internet. I found plenty of sites detailing crate rest, but yours was the only one I found describing actual first-hand experiences of pet owners. What a relief to hear that recovery is possible, from people who have been through it!
After only six days of strict rest, I’m happy to report that I can already see some improvement. Maia wags her tail, has control of her bladder and bowels, and can move her hind legs. They don’t necessarily go where she wants them to, but they move! I rigged up a sling to support her back end when I take her outside to relieve herself, and with just a little help she can very briefly support her own weight. We had a follow-up appointment with her regular vet yesterday, and he was optimistic about her chances for recovery.
I am anticipating one problem for which I’d appreciate any suggestions… Maia has never been in a crate before. So far it’s been easy to keep her down, but as she continues to improve I expect she will want to be more active. I purchased a small (3’x3’) exercise pen that I’ll start putting her in tomorrow, to get her used to it. What have you done to keep your puppy entertained and contented while incarcerated? So far I’ve been moving her bed from room to room and outside on the deck, wherever I happen to be spending time, but I doubt that she’ll be satisfied with that for another seven or eight weeks. She tends to be very vocal (as anyone with a dachshund will understand), and I’m really not looking forward to that! Thanks for any help!
Hi Kathy. I’m sorry your family and Maia are going through this but it sounds like you are taking very good care of her. Six – twelve weeks of crate rest has helped some Dachshunds, who were not able to get surgery even when recommended, walk again.
I answer your question is this blog post. https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/
It’s a first-hand account of how I kept my Gretel calm in a crate. However, she was already trained to be in a crate so it wasn’t a huge deal for her. That small pen can work but I would try to make it difficult for her to move around too much by doing things like placing a large object inside to make the space smaller or stuffing it with a lot of beds and blankets.
Good luck to you guys!
Thanks so much for the suggestions. Maia’s bed is big enough to fill most of the pen, but I’ll try adding some filler in the empty spaces. Since posting my initial comment/question, Maia has continued to improve and I’m feeling pretty good about her recovery. She’s acting so much better, in fact, that I’d be tempted to let her out of doggie jail now if I hadn’t read your blog and learned how important it is for her to serve her full sentence. I’m so glad I found you!
Thank you. My German Shepard was just diagnosed and although the dogs are very different your input was helpful and hopeful. I’m doom and gloom right now and very nervous for my six year old boy. Thank you for this info. I will be learning massages and therapy very soon!
I’m so sorry you guys are having to deal with IVDD. Indeed every dog is different. Unfortunately, some have ongoing issues despite the best efforts. However, in my experience, more dogs recover and go on to live normal lives. Good luck!
I know this article is a couple years old. Did the crate rest heal the disc? My chi was misdiagnosed for 8 months and just recently diagnosed with disc disease. I’m lost and unsure. ?
Most definitely! Strict crate rest is the best shot your dog has of recovery if surgery is not recommended. Gretel fully recovered after 10 weeks of strict crate rest and regularly hikes 5-7 miles again. I will note, we also did hydrotherapy (walking on an underwater treadmill) and cold laser treatments to help her heal more completely. If you want to know more about our experience with crate rest, please read this: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/.
I have read and re-read your article several times over the last few months while our dog was recovering from IVDD. Our Sophie is a 60 lb( well, she’s 70 lbs now due to the steroids) American bull dog mix that has always been an active, solid muscular girl. It was really hard to keep her confined/calm/relaxed during her recovery time because the steroids made hyper. We confined her to a room vs a crate as she would bark her head off if crated and we’re home. Sedating her wasn’t even an option. We went through 3 courses of steroids – first time, twice a day then tapering. Next two times once/day then tapering with the last two times only two weeks on the steroid. What really worked for Sophie was acupuncture and laser therapy. Since Sophie’s IVDD was more in her neck vs lower back( she never had trouble walking) we did hydrotherapy once and opted for acupuncture instead. Can’t say enough about the results. So as I read your article again, I’m so grateful for the positives that you have shared. We are taking walks again and are looking forward to the next chapter in her life and seeing where we will go next. We have amazing vets that have been outstanding and your experiences with Gretel have given us the hope we needed. Thank you!
Hi Susan. Laster therapy and acupuncture are excellent complimentary therapies for IVDD treatment. I’m glad I have given you some hope and I wish nothing but the best for you and Sophie.
I took my dog to the vet and the ER three days in a row last week because I couldn’t understand what was wrong with her. The condition was masked by a previous porcupine incident, but on Friday the vet decided the pain was most likely not related to the porcupine incident and was IVDD. I started her on crate rest and she’s on three pain medications. The pain medications keep intermittently not working and she’ll sit up panting and shaking with muscle spasms. I feel like the spasms have gotten worse. I know she’s only recently begun crate rest (on day 3) but she seemed to be doing great yesterday afternoon and then she couldn’t sleep at all last night from pain and is still in pain this morning despite the meds. Did you have experience of ups and downs like this during recovery? Her hind legs do work, she eats and she is able to go to the bathroom on her own. I’m so afraid when her hind legs are spasming out like that that she will end up being paralyzed. I’ve talked to my vet so many times they’re surely tired of hearing from me. I do have another call in today. My main question is just – did you find it common for the dog to have different degrees of pain while going through the healing process? And sometimes pain so great that it was felt beyond the meds? Thanks
Hi Cait. I’m sorry you are going through this. Personally, we did not experience this. Gretel may have been ups and downs with pain but nothing that showed (by spasms, crying, shaking, etc.) so I couldn’t tell. However, through this blog and my Dachshund club, I’ve had “experience” with at least 100 Dachshunds with the disease and can say it’s not uncommon for some dogs to really struggle with ups and downs in the beginning. I would keep reaching out to your vet though. They may get annoyed but who cares? Your concern is advocating for your dog and clearly your dog is still having issues. Good luck.
Hi Jessica, I’ve been reading about life after IVDD with Gretel, I hope she is still doing great!
I have a 5 year old French bulldog called Sonny who was stage 4 IVDD and had surgery on 2nd August this year. He is totally back up normal! Completely! I sometimes ask advice on a Facebook IVDD group but regarding long term recovery most people are very conservative – advising not to let him run, definitely no stairs, don’t let him jump up or down from furniture. So it’s been refreshing to hear of the hiking Daxie!
Hi, thank you for all of your information. My beagle had IVDD surgery 6.5 weeks ago. It was the lowest vertebrae closest to her tail. We have kept her sedentary and I have been sleeping on the kitchen floor with her. She seems like she is back to her normal self but we are still trying keep her restrained. We bought ramps for the couch and bed and are trying to introduce them , but she insists on jumping down from the couch. We have not used the bed ramp yet because it is higher . She is acting normal and part of me thinks we can only do so much as we can since we want her to enjoy her life . She is a rescue so approximately 10-11 years old. I am so afraid of her rei njuring herself but also want her to have a good quality of life which she wouldn’t do if she could sleep with us or sit with us in the couch. Thoughts ?
Hi Debbie. It’s definitely a balance. Personally, I focus on minimizing the highest risk, most repetative things. To me, jumping off the furniture is one of those. I know I can’t train my dogs to always use the ramp on the couch so I actually surrounded it will tall pet gates, leaving the ramp as the primary way off and on it. I just move part of the gate when I want to sit on the couch. We also placed our mattress and boxspring directly on the floor so the jumping height was no longer an issue. I aggree, at that age, if she is used to being on the couch and sleeping in your bed, I would continue to let her enjoy doing that.