Hello everyone and welcome to Doctor Dox! Each month on our blog we’ll feature this page to help doxie owners such as yourselves take better care of your furry family members! From ticks and fleas to more serious ailments, we’ll make sure that you are well informed so that your dachshund can live out the best years of their life. If you are unsure about something and have questions we highly recommend that you look to your local vet as they have much more knowledge about these issues than we do. Remember, a healthy doxie is a happy doxie!
This month’s topic: Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
What it is:
Many people who see a dachshund will immediately recognize the breed by its short legs and elongated back. Although this feature is very attractive and makes the dachshund so lovable, it can cause a lot of issues. One of these such issues is intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), or a ruptured disk. The intervertebral disks serve to stabilize the spine, and when this becomes damaged, especially in our long bodied friends, things can become serious.
The severity of the ruptured disk is dependent on 3 features: the type of force, the degree of force applied to the spinal cord, and how long that force was applied. Minor ruptured disks can simply lead to loss of coordination, but more severe ruptures can almost guarantee your doxie will lose it’s ability to walk and feel pain.
Although many different breeds can have a ruptured disk, Dachshunds account for up to 70% of cases. Most cases can occur when they are 3-6 years old, but some xrays have been shown that calcification of the disk can happen at 2 years of age.
Symptoms of IVDD:
So how do you know if your dachshund has it? One of the signs is that your dachshund suddenly starts moving slowly and doesn’t appear to look around too much. Another sign is the appearance of your dog having a drunken walk, not being able to move their hind legs in their normal fashion. In more serious conditions they can lose all function in their lower limbs and will not be able to empty their bladder completely or at all. Finally, your dog may lose their sense of feeling pain which can be very dangerous. Just like we as humans use pain to tell if something is wrong, our companions use pain to tell us that something is wrong as well.
Veterinarians highly recommend that your dachshund go through an annual health screening to make sure that everything is functioning correctly. If something is determined to cause alarm, your vet may perform some blood work and request a urine sample. They may also issue an x-ray of the spine or chest, or a myelogram, which is an x-ray series where a needle injects dye around the spinal cord to highlight any compression. More advanced options of treatment are a CT scan, MRI, or a spinal tap.
In mild cases of IVDD your vet may recommend cage rest, physical therapy, and pain medications in order to prevent further issues. Other cases will often lead to surgery, and what type of surgery is used is dependent on the location and the severity of the rupture. Most surgeons will perform what is known as the disk fenestration.
After your doxie has gone through surgery, they may be able to go home after 3-7 days. Your vet may have you perform bladder expression 3-4 times a day and strict bed rest for about 4 weeks, but afterwords your dog should be back to their normal selves!
With all this being said, there are certainly ways that you can help prevent your dachshund from having IVDD. One of the biggest things is limiting their ability to jump off furniture, which most dogs do on a daily basis. Also, make sure that you are bringing your doxie to the vet on a regular basis so that any of these issues can be taken care of right away. The longer you wait the more serious this issue can become, and it could cost your dog their ability to walk.
Information for this blog was found on the following web page: https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/intervertebral-disc-disease.