What is IVDD?
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), also known as dog IVDD, refers to disc disease in dogs characterized by a progressively deteriorating joint problem that affects the spaces between the vertebrae that constitute the dog’s spinal column. IVDD, an intervertebral disk disease in dogs, usually makes the discs between the vertebrae harden and become brittle, thereby making it unable to cushion the vertebrae.
The spinal cord is tremendously sensitive, and it plays a very vital role in the conduction and transmission of nerve signals throughout the body, especially to a dog’s fore and hind limbs. If the spinal cord is injured in some way, a dog can develop paresis or even paralysis. The location of the spinal cord injury determines how many limbs will be affected.
For example, if the spinal injury occurs in the neck region, all four limbs can show signs of paresis or paralysis. However, if the spinal injury occurs at the chest or lower back regions, only the hind limbs may appear abnormal.
Of all the breeds genetically susceptible to IVDD, Dachshund, French bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Pekinese, Pomeranian, Poodle and Shih Tzu, shepherd dog and Labrador retriever are most prone.
IVDD Symptoms in dogs
Intervertebral disc disease in dogs symptoms includes diarrhea, loss of weight, lethargy, holding the head in an upright, stiff position, touch sensitivity, abdominal pain and pain or weakness within the rear legs.
Can a dog recover from IVDD without surgery and how long does it take?
The Intervertebral disc disease dog treatment approach usually depends on the stage or level of IVDD. Intervertebral disc disease in dogs’ treatment could either be surgical or non-surgical. The severity of the symptoms the dog is displaying directly correlates to the treatment approach. Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is graded on a scale of one to five based on symptoms.
In grade one, the dog is experiencing pain but has no change in gait and no neurologic deficits. In grade two, the dog experiences pain, weakness, and decreased sense of body position.
Grades three and four worsen incrementally. By grade five, the dog can no longer move either the back legs, front legs, or both and usually cannot urinate normally.
In stages one, two and three of IVDD, conservative treatment is usually recommended. This usually involves rest and oral medications such as muscle relaxers and steroids for the pain. Most dog owners usually prefer IVDD dog treatment without surgery because of the expensive IVDD surgery cost.
However, conservative treatment should not even be considered for dogs in stages four and five because time is critical. Dogs with paresis have better odds of full recovery once they have surgery, and dogs with paralysis cannot go for up to twenty-four hours without surgery. Otherwise, their paralysis will be permanent. After that, physiotherapy is very important to assist the dog with mobility. Alternating use of pain medications could also be needed, and long-term use of joint supplements might be necessary.