Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD

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After surgery, your dog will need crate rest, pain management, and physical therapy for about 6 weeks in order to properly heal.

It is important to have physical therapy scheduled for your dog after surgery to help them regain their strength.

Some physical therapy can be done at home, while others will require you to take your dog to a qualified canine rehabilitation therapist (either a Physiotherapist or Veterinary Surgeon).

ivdd dachshund

Rehab services are usually available by referral from your dog’s vet.

These services consist of progressive treatment plans that address strength, range of motion, pain or discomfort, balance, coordination, quality of mobility and walking, and overall function.

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral disc disease, also known as IVDD or slipped disc disease, is an inherited condition of the spine that affects about 25 percent of all Dachshunds.  This disease occurs when a disk bulges, ruptures, or slips in the middle of the back.  [1]

IVDD is considered a degenerative disk disease.  These diseases are caused by progressive degeneration of the intervertebral disks, those cushion-like structures that separate each vertebra of the spinal column.

As the disks degenerate, they calcify and lose their shock-absorbing ability.  The disks will then become more susceptible to compression damage, even from normal activities.  If a forceful movement occurs, these disks can rupture.

The contents of the disks will then go into the spinal canal and place pressure on the spinal cord.  Severe or prolonged pressure on the nerves can lead to pain, loss of bladder or bowel control, or even paralysis, to the spinal cord.  [2]

Dachshund Fact: These degenerative disk diseases can show up as early as three years of age.  The risk of incidence increases as the dachshund grows older.  Dachshunds who are overweight are at higher risk for this disorder.

Physical Therapy and Exercises for Dachshunds with IVDD

Leg Stretches

As long as the dog is comfortable, stretching exercises can begin soon after surgery.  While your dog is laying on their side, you can move the dog’s leg in its natural range of motion. Stretch the legs forward and backward gently.

Sitting and Standing

To help work on the dog’s back muscles, gently have your dog sit and stand a couple of times daily.

Side Stretches

Hold the dog’s hind end in one hand and with a small treat (or piece of dog food) in your other hand, get them to follow your hand from one side to another.

They will bring their nose from one side (between the end of the chest and the rear leg) around to the other. This is good for flexibility and stretching the back muscles.

Balance Training

Using a wobble board is good for strength building and helps build muscle.

Heat Therapy & Massage

Relieves painful trigger points and muscle spasms and improves your dog’s circulation.

Low-Level Laser Therapy

Reduces swelling and promotes healing.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy involves swimming and the use of an underwater treadmill.  Being in the water creates resistance and will cushion your dog’s joints.

Post-Op Dog Performing Hydrotherapy

Viivi, the wire haired miniature dachshund contracted IVDD when she was 4 years old.   Check out Viivi’s Story for details on her symptoms, surgery, and rehabilitation.

dachshund hydrotherapy
Photo Credit: Dachshund Breed Council, IVDD

Stem Cell Treatment

Many studies are underway using Stem Cell treatment for dogs with IVDD.

Check out Jasper the Dachshund’s story and how he regained his mobility after this treatment.

Emergency Symptoms Post-Op Recovery

If any of the following symptoms occur while your Dachshund is recovering from an IVDD, call your vet for advice:

    • Pain, weakness, or immobility
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Difficulty with urinating or defecating
    • Blood in the urine or stools
    • Stops eating or drinking
    • Acting lethargic

Natural Supplements For Dogs With IVDD

Two natural supplements are recommended for dogs with IVDD: turmeric and omega-3s.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric can help dogs who suffer from chronic joint pain by reducing inflammation.

You can add this supplement to your dog’s food, or purchase a soft chewable tablet on Amazon.

Keep in mind, not all dogs can tolerate turmeric. It is a warming supplement, so if your dog seems pant a lot or sleeps on the cool floor, skip the turmeric.

Successful Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD 1

Caution: If your dog’s on any medications, check with your vet before adding turmeric to her diet.

Turmeric can interact with some medications, including anti-inflammatory and diabetes drugs, and chemotherapy treatments.

2. Omega-3s

Omega-3s can help dogs who suffer from chronic joint pain by reducing inflammation.

They can also help regulate and reduce the effects of arthritis in dogs.

Avoid purchasing Fish oil Omega-3s for dogs because it can be toxic to pets.  Fish oil supplements oxidize when exposed to oxygen and this actually increases inflammation in pets.

Successful Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD 2Successful Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD 3

Try this one: Marine Phytoplankton Omega 3 EPA

This is a vegetarian supplement contains omega 3 fatty acids, but not fatty acids obtained from fish.

Phytoplankton food contains the Omega-3 essential fatty acids nearly double the amount of omega-3 fats by weight as fish oil. [8]

Aids for Dachshund Mobility

In addition to the above treatment options, you may also want to try a mobility aid.

You can Equip your dog with a wheelchair or back brace to help her get around.

Orthopedic braces for dogs help them regain their strength and sense of independence.

Visit the Best IVDD Dog Wheelchair Reviews article.

A sling or harness can be beneficial for your dog. Use these to help your dog upstairs, into the car, or when navigating rough terrain. [8]

Helpful Resources:

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, IVDD can keep your dachshund from doing all of his favorite things: playing, jumping, and digging.  Using  IVDD prevention tips can help reduce the risk of your dog getting IVDD.

If your dog does have IVDD, the combination of your vet’s care, physical therapy, mobility aids, and natural supplements will help your dog through the healing process.

If your dog has been through IVDD, please post some lessons learned in the comments below.

Learn More about IVDD in Dachshunds (Part 1 of my IVDD Blog Series) IVDD Prevention, Dog breeds affected by IVDD, IVDD symptoms, and IVDD Treatment options.

IVDD in Dachshunds

Sources:

  1. Schweitzer, Karen. 2010. Our Best Friends: The Dachshund. Pittsburg, PA: Eldorado Ink.
  2. Pinney, Chris C. 2010, 2000. Hauppauge, NY 11788.
  3. NorthStar VETS Vet, NJ.  Avoiding back problems in Dachshunds
  4. UCDAVIS Veterinary Medicine.
  5. Dachshund Health UK
  6. Pet Health Network
  7. PetMD
  8. Dogs Naturally Magazine