Your Dog Just Received an IVDD Diagnosis – Now What?

The vet came out into the emergency waiting room and confirmed my worst fears: my Dachshund Gretel was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD).

Our life together as I knew it flashed before my eyes. I was upset and sad. It was such a blow.

You see, Gretel had been my hiking partner for 5 years.

We made many memories in the mountains over hundreds of miles.

UPDATED: originally published march 29, 2016

Relying on each other out in the woods is what helped her get over her severe anxiety and helped create a bond between us that was stronger than I’d had with any dog before her.

Now, suddenly, that felt like a distant memory we would never be able to share again.

My next question for the vet is what could be done to help her heal and what was the prognosis.

Would she walk again? Could she live a normal life? Could she hike again?

If this sounds like you – you just received the dreaded diagnosis of IVDD – you might be wondering the same things as I did.

And if this is the first time you’ve heard of IVDD, you might be reeling from shock.

I’ve been studying IVDD since 2016, and have helped several Dachshunds through the rehab process, so I’m here to help ease your mind and outline what to expect for the next steps.

I know it’s easier said than done but don’t freak out! 

IVDD and disk herniations are common in Dachshunds and the majority recover mostly or fully.

First, Know Your Dachshund’s Back Injury is Not Your Fault

In the majority of the cases I’ve heard of, Dachshund owners question and blame themselves for their Dachshund’s back injury.

But, you see, whether your Dachshund hurts their back or not is largely out of control.

Dachshund back injuries, when an acute injury like getting hit by a vehicle is not the cause, and especially if a dog is between the ages of 4 and 8, are due to Hansen’s Type I Intervertebral Disk Disease, or IVDD for short.

You can read the details in my article The Truth About Dachshund Back Problems but, in summary, IVDD is a genetic disease that weakens the spinal disks, which can result in a partial or full disk rupture (Intervertebral Disk Herniation – IVDH) and paralysis.

As an owner, you don’t have control over your dog’s genetics. 

In the case of Dachshunds, close to 98% of them have some degree of IVDD because the disease is related to the gene that gives the Dachshund their signature long and low look.

But just because most Dachshunds are affected in some way by the disease, doesn’t mean they will suffer from a disk rupture. 

In fact, only around 25% of Dachshunds will and those injuries can range from mild with only slight pain to severe with a loss of nerve feeling and paralysis.

While it is true that environmental factors, like diet, high impact, obesity, etc, do play a part in the frequency and severity of back injuries, if a disk is ready to rupture it will, no matter what you do or don’t do.

So, please, give yourself a break and focus your time and energy on your dog’s healing.

Assessment and IVDD Treatment Options – What to Expect

The next step after diagnosis of an IVDD-related disk herniation (IVDH) is a discussion with your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will assess your dog’s mobility status and potential degree of nerve damage.

They will do this by pushing on your dog’s vertebrae, manipulating the back legs and hips, or front legs and head if the disk rupture is in the neck, and performing a “flip test” of the feet to see how fast your dog responds to being in an unnatural position.

After this evaluation, your vet will be able to give you an estimate of the degree of disk injury, and nerve damage, ranging from 1-5, although vets in the US typically diagnose at grades 2 or higher.

This IVDD grading score will help your vet to develop a treatment plan and give you an estimate of the outcome – the chance your dog will recover given a particular treatment – in percent.

Based on this assessment, your veterinarian will recommend one these 3 IVDD treatment options:

  1. Spinal surgery followed by conservative care and rehabilitation 
  2. Conservative treatment (alone, no surgery)
  3. Euthanasia

An MRI may be suggested to better identify the affected disk and the degree of damage.

However, this is primarily to determine the exact disk that needs to be operated on so unless you agree to surgery right away, this is an optional procedure.

At stages 1 and 2, a veterinarian is most likely to suggest conservative treatment.

At stage 5, surgery or euthanasia is typically suggested.

For the in-between stages – stage 3 and 4 – a vet will typically suggest conservative treatment or surgery, based on your specific dog and where the compromised disk is located.

I want to note here that if you feel like your veterinarian is not knowledgeable about IVDD, and has not presented what you think are accurate and reasonable treatment options, consider seeking a second opinion.

Once your veterinarian has given you this information, it’s up to you to make the best choice based on your dog’s quality of life, what you can afford, and your ability to care for a dog with, potentially, special needs.

Evaluating the Treatment Options – Which One is Best?

I could write a novel on this the topic of IVDD treatments, or at least a small eBook, but I just want to offer an overview here, based on my knowledge and experience, instead of overwhelming you.

Also, these decisions most often have to be made quickly and under stress so I want to keep it simple.

First, you may be crushed if your vet suggests euthanasia is the best option or makes you feel like you should do it.

Know that this route is rarely a necessity, at least not without giving some treatment time to see how it goes.

The primary exception is if myelomalacia develops. 

If this happens, it generally means that your Dachshund’s spinal cord has been severely damaged and is starting to die.

In this case, there is no cure and it can be very painful so putting your Dachshund to sleep will be the most compassionate thing to do.

But for the rest of the cases, you can tell your vet that you don’t want to go that route.

So the two options left are surgery or conservative treatment followed by rehab.

In the case of my Dachshund, Gretel, she was only stage 2 so surgery was not recommended for her. We went with conservative treatment.

Gretel on Crate restriction for IVDD

We did not do an MRI because my vet said that is only necessary for worse cases where they need to know on which disk(s) surgery should be performed.

So know, that if your vet prescribes only conservative treatment, or you are not going to opt for surgery, paying a lot of money for an MRI is optional and probably not necessary.

But perhaps your veterinarian suggests surgery.

If they do, it’s probably because they think it will provide the best chance of recovery.

If surgery is suggested, it’s most effective when performed within 48 hours of the disk rupture.

However, the average cost of Dachshund back surgery is $10,000 and many can’t afford that.

If you can’t, do know that some Dachshunds have mostly or fully recovered with conservative treatment, and rehab, alone, even if surgery was the top recommendation.

In other words, even if surgery is recommended, it’s worth trying the conservative treatment route.

Also, if you do go with surgery, a period of crate rest and rehab is required afterward to completely heal.

Anyway, conservative treatment consists of a regimen of medications including a steroid, pain medication, and possible muscle relaxers, along with a minimum 5 weeks of very restricted movement often called “crate rest”.

Every dog has a different severity of injury, and will progress at different rates, so expect that crate rest could last as long as 6 months for fully paralyzed dogs.

Rehab can consist of many things ranging from massage and passive manipulation at home, to hydrotherapy or strengthening and muscle building exercises supervised by a rehab veterinarian.

During this rehab period, acupuncture, cold laser, or light therapy can also help promote healing.

What’s the Chance My Dachshund Will Recover?

Whether your Dachshund will recover from a disk rupture, and to what degree, primarily depends on your dog’s genetics, the level of treatment, how quickly that treatment was implemented, whether you stick with a sufficient period of restricted movement (crate rest), and some luck.

In my experience, dogs diagnosed with a grade 1 or 2 disk herniation will almost always recover, and recover completely, with conservative treatment.

Note: this doesn’t mean a different disk can’t rupture later or that there won’t be any flare-ups but a dog will generally go back to living a normal life.

Dogs with grades 3-4 that receive surgery tend to fully recover, although they may walk a little wonky for life.

A Dachshund who was grade 5 may never walk completely normal again after surgery but it’s definitely possible for them to after a period of 3-12 months.

In a best case scenario, short of recovering fully, a Dachshund will have minor mobility issues for the rest of their life. Most of these won’t affect their quality of life.

But it is also possible that a Dachshund who is paralyzed will never regain the ability to walk or urinate or defecate on their own.

I know several Dachshunds this has happened to but they still live a good life.

They happily scoot around the house with their front legs, sometimes in what is called a drag bag, to protect their legs from scrapes, and outside with the help of a wheelchair.

If they are not able to go potty on their own, you can help them go by doing what is called “expressing” their bladder or bowels.

But here is where we get real.

Ideally, you would be able to embrace this change and happily care for a handicapped Dachshund for the rest of their life.

But I am not going to shame anyone for recognizing that they simply can’t give a Dachshund with that many needs the quality of life they deserve.

If this is you, your options are to surrender your handicapped Dachshund to a rescue or euthanasia (yes, back to that dreaded option).

Can a Dog Recover From IVDD Without Surgery?

You may be wondering if your vet recommends surgery, if your Dachshund can still recover without it.

I want to drive this point home: IVDD is a disease. If your dog has it, they always will. They can’t recover from it.

Unfortunately, almost all Dachshund back injuries are referred to as IVDD, which is confusing.

When a Dachshund injures their back, it’s an intervertebral disk herniation (IVDH) caused by IVDD.

So the real question here, is can a Dachshund recover from IVDH without surgery.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

The truth is that the success rate for surgery is usually somewhere between 50% and 95%.

The higher the grade of disk herniation, the lower the percentage they will fully recover, in general. 

That means that even if you opt for the surgery, there is not a 100% chance your Dachshund will fully recover.

To help you decide whether you want to go the surgery route or not, your vet should be able to give you this estimate of recovery for your individual dog.

But the figures below will also be helpful.

The chance of recovery through conservative treatment alone, for dogs diagnosed as grades 4 and 5, the most severe cases and when surgery is most typically recommended, is 30% to 80%.

Given that surgery on the same dog generally gives a 50% to 90% chance of recovery, those numbers are not too far off from each other.

Based on those numbers, and my experience, it is definitely possible for a Dachshund to recover from a disk herniation without surgery.

But do be aware that, if surgery is recommended as the best option and you decline in lieu of conservative treatment, it’s also possible that they won’t.

Complementary Treatments for IVDD to Consider

I previously stated that there are 2 treatments, and 3 options, for an IVDD-related disk herniation but that’s not completely true.

There are some others. They’re not common, readily available, or always financially viable, but I want you to at least be aware they exist.

These include:

  • Stem cell treatment
  • Percutaneous laser disk ablation (PLDA), also known as Percutaneous laser disc decompression (PLDD)
  • Hyperbaric oxygen chamber (to speed recovery)
  • Acupuncture 
  • Cold laser therapy

I worked with Dr. Leslie Eide, DVM, CCRT, with The Total Canine Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine from Marysville, WA during Gretel’s recovery and asked her about all of these treatment options. 

Dr. Eide owns two award-winning agility dogs, and is an athlete herself, so she is very familiar with an athletic lifestyle and sports injuries. 

Dr. Eide recommended that we try acupuncture and laser therapy since those were relatively affordable, readily accessible, and had a track record of being effective.

Gretel getting laster therapy for her Intervertebral Disk Disease

We started cold laser therapy immediately, 2 times a week, to help reduce pain and inflammation and speed healing.

Acupuncture, which we did once a week for 6 weeks, also helps with the body’s healing process.

Dr. Eide said stem cell therapy, although a potential option, would be complicated, expensive, and there is no reasonable guarantee that it would help more than some of the other treatment options. 

I asked about treatment in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to speed recovery but Dr. Eide said it was A) not available in Seattle that she knew of (although it’s my understanding it is at Washington State University in Pullman, WA) and B) better for severe neurological cases.

PDLA, although available since the late 90’s, was not something I was aware of at the time of Gretel’s IVDD diagnosis in 2016.

PDLA, which is performed to prevent IVDD-related disk herniations can’t be performed on a dog with an active spinal injury, so it wouldn’t have been an option for us at the time anyway.

Gretel has been very active and only had 3 significant IVDD flare ups in the last 6 years, so PDLA was not something I pursued but I would definitely consider it in the future for another Dachshund.

I know a few people who got the procedure for their Dachshunds because their dog kept rupturing disks, and they all rave about how much the procedure helped prevent future issues.

Final Thoughts

When your Dachshund is in pain, wobbly on their legs, or paralyzed, and then you receive a diagnosis of IVDD, it can be devastating.

You may feel scared, hopeless, sad and like your Dachshund will never live a normal life again.

But back injuries are common in Dachshunds and many, many have fully, or mostly, recovered.

Luckily, too, the veterinary world is learning more and more about treatment for IVDD and disk herniations.

I know many Dachshunds who have suffered a disk herniation, been diagnosed with IVDD, fully recovered, and gone on to live an active life.

Like my Dachshund Gretel. 

Once her 10 weeks of crate rest and rehab were completed, we were able to resume our normal activities, including hiking.

Since her recovery in 2016, she has hiked up to 15 miles in one day on multiple occasions and completed a 30 mile hike over a period of 3 days.

On her own. I didn’t have to carry her.

So, relax, breathe, focus on treatment and moving forward, and give your baby a hug. There is hope things can go back to normal.

Whether you have heard of the disease or not, finding out that your dog has Intervertebral Disk Disease is devastating. In fact, it's likely that just 24 hours ago your dog was fine and then they suddenly had a back injury and may have been paralyzed. The happy life you've shared with your dog is flashing before your eyes. But don't freak out. In this article I walk you through what to expect, the treatment options, and whether your dog will fully recover or not.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. At least you have a plan going forward, that helps a lot. I know how you feel though. When Torrey hurt her knee and couldn’t go for walks, or play frisbee it was really hard. For both of us. She was bored, and I felt horrible she couldn’t live the life she loves. Thankfully we are getting back on track. With Roxy’s back, it’s been easy to do the backpack thing and have her walk shorter distances. I know we talked about that, and it’s not a super option for Gretel.
    A friend of mine who is a vet in Colorado suggested a book called four paws, five directions. It’s a chinese medicine book for pets and covers acupressure. You may want to look into that. I’m so sorry this happened to you guys.

    1. I’ll check out the book. I’ve always liked the concept of sports massage and strengthening exercised for “sporting” dogs but never saw a real need for it. It looks like those days are over if I want Gretel to be able to hike regularly again 🙂 I definitely want to know what kind of manual therapy I can do to help her.

  2. Your plan sounds like a great plan! As for nails, I have 2 Doxies like you and nails have always been the bane of my existence! We found the trick was to do the pup most comfortable with nail clippings first, heap on the praise, treats and use 3 people!! One to clip, one to praise and hold, and one to continuously feed a kibble at a time into the ever hungry eating machine! By the time you get to the reluctant one they are practically begging to have their turn! Don’t go it alone, 3 people is best , 2 will do but the strongest must hold them still. (strong cuddles!)

    Good luck!

    1. We’re definitely going to have to make this a bigger production than it has been in the past. What exactly is going to work for us, I’m not sure yet.

  3. I think what you need to worry about most is jumping down. My boy was exceptionally smart and quickly learned to bark to be lifted up or down. I made a cube to assist him getting on and off the sofa.

    He did have surgery which may actually have improved his long term condition. Most vets will not do surgery on a dog that is walking though. The surgeon said what he has at a year is permanent but he continued to improve and eventually I almost forgot about it.

    Wadsworth went down at three and when he was 13 and months before we discovered he had prostate cancer which would ultimately take him, he hiked around Suttle Lake in Oregon. That’s about five miles with a lot of ups and downs but no scrambling and he did better than some of the humans.

    Hoping for a full recovery.

    1. Yeah, I think Gretel’s scrambling days are over. She loves it so though! I call her my little spider monkey. This girl can scale rock walls! Glad to hear your pup was able to get back to hiking.

  4. I’m a nurse at a sports camp for the blind, deaf-blind, and visually impaired, Camp Abilities. We teach our athletes that any sport is possible you just have to put modifications into place. It’s a mind set you put yourself in.
    You have a lot of advantages by having a dog that you can carry if need be. Also one that is similar shape to a bedroll. Maybe do some contemplation of the worse case scenario, and work your way back from there. I have a Male smooth red that has been on crate rest. It’s hard to see how badly they want to get back to their activities. I wish Gretel God’s speed in healing! Perseverance will get you there!

    1. Exactly. And that’s my mindset. Can’t really isn’t in my vocabulary but how is 🙂 We’ve always gone hiking prepared to carry one of the dogs if they were injured. Unfortunately, there is no great system for doing so (almost everything available or modified (like a pack) puts pressure on their spine. That’s a definite no-no here… especially over “bouncy” terrain. An emergency is an emergency but I am going to put more thought into what to do if there is one.

  5. I always feel MUCH better with a plan too. Waiting for your next blog post was hard enough, I can only imagine it was driving you crazy to wait to see the specialist. The plan sounds awesome! I know Gretel will progress quickly because it sounds like she already is. Let me know what you figure out about the nail grooming. All 4 of mine feel exactly the same way about getting their nails trimmed!

    1. Yes, she is. You can barely tell there is anything wrong just looking at her. She’s getting restless and she started whining a bit in the crate yesterday. Oh, oh. I have a feeling this is going to be a long road 🙂

  6. I am so happy that you now have your plan in place and can begin to DO something (waiting just sucks)! I will be watching closely to see how Gretel’s healing progresses. As for her nails, my second rescue dog, a 35 lb JRT mix (read: terrorist), was VERY sensitive to having her feet touched. It took years for us to desensitize her enough to allow us to wipe her muddy feet when coming inside from a potty break in the rain. Nail trims were like a 4-H greased pig chase. I have never seen a dog contort in the ways she could! Enter Cricket’s “happy pills”. When our vet invited us to not bring Cricket back for a nail trim ever again after a biting and writhing fit, I called to ask if there was not something they could prescribe to calm her before the dreaded procedure. There was, and they did, and history was made. She would thereafter lie relaxed upon the table at the vet’s office. While she did not by any means enjoy the trims, she did endure them with little complaint. Perhaps exploring this might be helpful for Gretel too! Best of luck.

    1. I think Gretel is going to need happy pills to stay in the crate the next 36 days. It’s not that she started whining yesterday but that she constantly sits, and tries to stand up on her hing legs, rather than laying down in a relaxed position. I don’t see how that can be helping her. Maybe being able to do her nails will be a bonus 🙂

  7. Poor Gretel! I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I really hope everything goes according to your plan with no set backs.

    Have you seen Donna Hill’s activities for crate rest video on YouTube? You might find something there that you can do with her that would help you keep her mentally stimulated.

    1. Possibly? I saw a video “20 activities for a dog on crate rest” but I have no idea who the lady was 🙂 I’ve got some things we are working on but NO amount of mental exercises are going to tire this girl out when she is stuck in the crate. It will more be a tool to refocus her when she starts whining.

  8. The MRI in Michigan is 3K. I know from experience. So good that your vet nixed needing one. My Bailey had a diagnosis of IVDD 5 years ago. With crate rest prednolisone and tramadol, she fully recovered. She’s smart and cautious now, but I always worry. It’s hard to slow down an active dog, but I know you can do it.

    1. I am pretty sure it would have been covered by my pet insurance so money isn’t a factor for me. It’s still on the table for later down the road if she doesn’t recover as expected or has another, more severe, episode later. It looks like the medication and crate rest is doing it’s job though.

  9. There is an essential oil called peace and calm that I use to settle my dogs down. It works magically. I put a couple drops in a diffuser and let it go to work. Our dogs are relaxed and resting in now time. I wonder if that would work for Gretel. I can tell you more about it when we meet for dinner.

    1. I’ll check it out. So far, NOTHING natural has worked for her though. I’ve used oils, herbal teas, etc before with absolutely no difference. I still have hope though. I just ordered 3 more natural calming products. They are supposed to be some of the strongest on the market but we’ll see. This may be a case where “better living through chemicals” is our only option for keeping her restful enough to heal.

  10. So sorry to hear you are dealing with this. I can’t possibly understand what you’re going through because I have no experience with IVDD. I just want you to know I’m thinking of you and Gretel. I know she is in good hands and your plan sounds like a good one.

    Do you have a post on which dog stroller you use? My dog is obviously not small but I’m curious. I’ve thought of getting Ace one of those soft, fold-up wagons.

    1. Thanks Lindsay. I have not written a blog post about the stroller we have. It’s the NV No-Zip Pet Stroller from PetGear though. It’s one of the fanciest-schmanciest ones out there 🙂 A fold-up wagon is way cheaper. A few people in my Dachshund club have them. The bonus is that you can use it to haul other things. The down side is that it can’t handle as versatile terrain.

  11. I read about this on my phone where I couldn’t comment. I am so sorry that Gretel is facing these challenges. Happy you have a plan and I am sure she will get the best treatment.

  12. Sorry to hear about Gretel’s pain. It is so hard to be patient (for yourself and them), you see them responding to the rest and seeming to feel better, so you think letting them out of the crate and running around won’t hurt. Only to have them hurting again. It is so hard to watch them siting/laying in their crate while you are home instead of playing and running around like you are used to. Giving them meds regularly isn’t fun either, but you do what you need to to help them feel better. Nothing worse than when they cry. Our doxie Chopper has been having back issues off and on for a while. He and his sister too are little hikers/doxie mountain goats. I found that Chiropractic helped tremendously. Recently though, we have found a holistic vet that does acupuncture first to help the him relax then follows with Chiro. It has been amazing watching the difference. Try to stay patient and looking at your options. Best wishes for Gretel’s progress and thanks for sharing the information and stories.

    1. I consider myself very, very fortune that I work with home. First, Gretel is used to laying around in the office for 5 – 10 hours a day while I work. I put her normal bed inside an extra crate I had and so it’s not like much has really changed for her. Because I am home, I also have the flexibility to tend to her more often. I can break up her crate time by taking her for a walk in the stroller or playing “games” with her. I am currently trying to teach her a new trick. When I see her getting too restless, I try to switch something up for her – a location, a game, etc.

      I had years of chiropractic myself for my back and, truthfully, I don’t feel like it was that effective…. so I’m skeptical about it helping her. We are definitely going to try acupuncture though and I’m not totally opposed to having her adjusted by a chiropractor. I would want it to be someone familiar with IVDD though.

      Love that your Doxies are super hikers too 🙂

  13. Non-hikers really don’t get what rough-terrain hiking is about. No reason they should, but yes, very frustrating to have your concerns about oranges dismissed because apples should probably be okay!

    I’m very interested in your experiences with the sports medicine vet. I’ve watched friends use similar practices for agility dogs and wondered if it would translate well for us, if ever needed…

    1. Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing – this gal is a sports medicine vet and specializes in dogs that do things like agility, dock diving, etc. I’ll be keeping you guys posted about her treatments and how it goes for sure.

  14. I’m so sorry that you’re feeling that way! I really don’t know what else to say. I’ve written a post on my blog that’s a longer letter too Gretel which you can check out if you want but I just want to say that I’m so sorry that Gretel is going through all of this.

  15. Having had to crate-restrict one border collie (Obi -torn Achilles tendon) for eight weeks a year ago, and now our other BC (Habi – cruciate ligament rupture) for eight weeks (three weeks down, five to go), we send our deepest sympathies. Leg injuries, bad as they are, don’t hold a candle to back injuries. You have a good plan, and with your attitude things will go as well as they possibly can.

    From our experience, mental exercise helped a lot; we concentrated on shaping “chin-rest on hand”, then “chin-rest on rolled-up towel”, etc. We’re also starting shaping nail-grinding with dremel with Habi who Suspects The Worst when it come to nails. The shaping started with the dremel in view – TONS of GREAT treats. Then bring turned off dremel closer over several days, using lots of treats, till we could touch her toes with it. We watched carefully to be sure she was relaxed, moving ahead as slowly as she needed. Then we re-started with the dremel turned on a long way away, TONS of GREAT treats. Then repeat bringing it closer – we’re still not at her toes yet but she’s able to be relaxed with it six inches away, which is great progress. It’s frustrating that her nails continue to grow as we work on this several-week training, but it’ll pay off in the long run.

    Obi needed sedatives at night for two weeks to knock him out so he didn’t remove staples while we slept. (Mr. Contortionist removed the first set of staples the first night home, despite cone and hobbles). If you need them, and Gretel tolerates them, it can really help.

    We LOVE our sports vet; Obi is sound on all four legs because of her, and we expect Habi to make a full recovery too. We started home PT this week, and she starts hydrotherapy next week.

    Our best wishes for both you and Gretel!

    1. Hi Chris. It sounds like you also have a good plan and in the hands of a good veterinarian. I hope your pup makes a full recovery. I’ve been working on some little tricks with Gretel to give her some mental exercises. The goal I am working toward is something I’ve wanted to teach her for a long time – to hold things in her mouth. We’re starting with a nose touch to my hand because I know that is something she will easily learn so it won’t frustrate me. Ha, ha. I can be impatient. There are several different ways to teach her to take something in her mouth and I was able to find a method I think will work for us. Unfortunately, teaching both of those things involves a reward of food. Obviously, I’ve really had to cut her calories down because she is sedentary. That means I haven’t been able to practice the tricks as often as I would like to though.

  16. So sorry to read about Gretel and your plight! How you describe the stages is so well put. I remember Harley’s diagnosis of Diabetes and then Cataracts. Each time there were tears, anger that such a precious innocent soul was having to go through it, research/research/research about how I could help improve his quality of life and then the lessons he taught me daily about his ability to adapt. These are not the same things you are dealing with but on some small level I understand the grief. Our fingers and paws are crossed with prayers up for Gretel’s recovery! We will be watching & waiting to hear. Also thanks to Mary Hone as I’ve ordered her suggested book looking for help with Shasta’s arthritis and Cushings.

    1. Thanks Denise. I’m still trying to remain optimistic but I know she could have episodes on and off for the rest of her life and some could be more severe. Just one day at a time, right? I want to protect Gretel but I also want her to live a life she enjoys. I hope the book Mary suggested is helpful to you and Shasta.

  17. Jessica…2 of my Dachshunds have had laser treatment and go once a month for maintenance . Max was paralyzed in the beginning and is now almost 100%. I swear by the laser treatment and am now taking a foster dog for treatment and he is responding wonderfully. Best of luck to you and Gretel.

    1. That’s great to hear. I’ve seen amazing results after just three treatments. It’s something I am definitely considering long-term to help manage her condition.

  18. Oh dear I almost missed this post! Jessica, I saw something at Global that may be a possibility for helping get her nails done. Jo Hunt’s client Kruuse develops a lot of vet care products. They showed be this cat bag, haha, that you put cats in at the vet so that you can examine them, give them shots, etc, without them fighting you. I had a cat, Peaches, that every time we showed up at the vet the assistants got out the Kevlar gloves, she was vicious.

    Anyway, after getting to know you better at Global I can see you bouncing in the chair with impatience at the hospital and writing your lists forming your plan for Gretel. She is so lucky to have you! I am almost looking forward to seeing her treatments and how well she’ll improve. Have you thought of those balls with a treat inside or a Kong with frozen peanut butter to keep her stimulated?

    1. Thanks for the tip on the “cat bag” I’ll try to track it down. I am not sure the premise of it but my vet did say that Gretel might do better with her nails being trimmed if she can’t see what I’m doing.

      I do have a treat toy for Gretel. It was a lifesaver to help her get over the anxiety of being in the crate when I leave the house. She still gets one every time she has to go in the crate. Well, she used to. I can’t give her one every time now because I REALLY have to watch her calories. She usually gets one with a little bit of peanut butter smeared on the inside once a day to busy her for a while.

      1. I have a remedy for the nail trimming dilemma Jessica. I can’t stand to have my nails done. It freaks me out terribly so it’s a two person job at my house. I have back issues too, with two discs that are compressed, so for my nails, Mommy wraps we like a baby burrito in a soft blanket and only one paw gets to stick out. She has the blanket set up so I can’t see that Auntie Helen, sitting next to Mommy on the couch or bed, has the “implements of nail clipping & filing” ready in hand. So Mommy loves on my face and holds one paw at a time out of the blanket, holding my back against a pillow (all the while I’m a blanket burrito dog) and I can’t see Auntie cutting my nails. I can feel it and I occasionally try to pull my paw away, but Mommy has a firm loving grip on my arm. It works great then I get treats afterwards!! I hope this helps. And I pray that her treatments work for Gretel.
        Love, Pixel

  19. my oldest dog does not have this but she has a bad disc that she go when she developed vestibular and went around in little tight circles. i use arnica, supplements, tens, acupuncture and the assis loop. i get upset with looking at her. she wears boots in the house b/c i have hardwood floors, i put down yoga matts for her. she is almost 15 yrs old now, deal, partially blind, but still has lots of spunk.

  20. I totally get the sadness you feel about what this means for your future hikes with Gretel. It’s sad when a dog is injured and you can’t do what you loved to do together anymore. I am going through the same thing with Cupcake now and Daisy is not far behind. I cannot imagine not exploring and hiking without them.

    Hoping Gretel continues to heal and that you can find a way to keep her mentally busy while on strict “bed” rest. Good luck with the nails too. That one is a challenge with Jasper every single time.
    Feel better Gretel!

  21. Hello Jessica, Just wanted you to know that I am following and sending healing energy to Gretel and you. As a hiker, I would be so upset too, so I get that. I know this is a tough time, all you can do is just be and feel. Thinking of you all. Juliet

    1. Thanks Juliet. That means a lot. Things seem to be progressing but I started doing some rehab exercises with her yesterday and it shows that she’s still experiencing some loss of feeling in her back legs 🙂 It has only been three weeks though… patience :/

  22. How did you end up handling the nail trims? My dog was just diagnosed with IVDD and your posts about Gretel have made this whole experience so much less terrifying!

    1. Hi Ana. An IVDD diagnosis is a really scary thing. At least at first. I’m glad you found my post helpful. In regard to Gretel’s nails, I now have to pay someone to do them. I could probably spend months trying to condition her to let me do it but I don’t have the time and don’t want to take the risk. Grinding is better than clipping as far as being more efficient so I take her to the vet or Petsmart to get it done (Petsmart is cheaper than my vet but I sometimes have the vet do it when she’s in for an exam). If I was going to attempt it myself again, I would have her stand and lift her feet like the do at the groomer (kind of how they do with horses). She still struggles for me when I tried it that way but not nearly as much as holding her upside down in my arms like a baby to do it.

  23. I have a 4 yo miniature dapple Josie, who has IVDD. She had a disc explode over Thanksgiving weekend 2020. The following Monday we were at the vet as it was difficult for her to walk. After ex rays and a possible IVDD diagnosis we were sent home with medications and crate rest prescribed. Over the next few days her condition seem to worsen. I was fortunate enough to find a animal surgical hospital specializing in backs in Phoenix and they took her in for an MRI the next day. As it turned out she had a ruptured disc that was extensive and required a 5 hr surgery. It has been almost 5 months which has inc about 15 PT sessions. She’s walking again 1/2 mile a day, down from 3, but as long as she happy and I’m able to keep her from jumping and rough play she seems content. Some have questioned the money spent but I had lost her 14 yo step brother 3 months prior and wasn’t prepared to see her paralyzed the rest of her life. It’s been worth it. My heart goes out to all of these special little ones that must deal with this, I just thankful there are treatments. Thank you for your forum to talk about this.

    1. I’m sorry you and Josie have to deal with IVDD but I applaud you for getting a second option and putting so much effort into her recovery. She definitely found a good Mama! I hope she continues to improve and is eventually back to “normal”.

  24. Even while my eldest dog does not suffer from this, she did have a herniated disc that caused her to go in small, tight circles when she first started experiencing vestibular problems. The assist loop, tens, acupuncture, vitamins, and arnica are some of my tools. If I stare at her, I start to feel angry. I set down yoga mats for her, but she still wears boots inside the house since my floors are hardwood. She’s over fifteen years old, and has some vision impairment, but she’s still quite spunky.

  25. If your dog only has mild symptoms of a slipped disc it may be best to treat them ‘medically’ (with pain relief, strict rest and physiotherapy), but if they have more severe symptoms (such as severe pain or being unable to walk) it’s likely that they will need surgery.

    1. What you describe as “medially” is called conservative treatment and it’s definitely the way to go if the disk rupture (what is actually happening when people refer to a “slipped disk” in regard to IVDD) is mild. In fact, most veterinarians won’t do surgery unless it’s grade 4 or 5 (wobbly or unable to walk with diminished pain sensation).

  26. Although my oldest dog does not have this, when she initially began having vestibular issues, she had a herniated disc that made her go in short, tight circles. Among my tools are the assist loop, tens, acupuncture, vitamins, and arnica. I am enraged if I look at her. I put down yoga mats for her, but since my floors are hardwood, she still wears boots inside the house. Despite having significant eyesight impairment and being older than fifteen, she still maintains her feisty personality.

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