therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD

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IVDD can be a scary diagnosis for any Dachshund owner.  Don’t lose hope!  There are many Successful Therapy Options out there for Dogs with IVDD, with or without surgery.  Some treatment methods include Hydrotherapy, Laser Therapy, Acupuncture, Stem Therapy, and Physical Therapy exercises.

Therapy and Rehabilitation services are available by referral from your dog’s vet.  These services consist of progressive treatment plans that address strength, range of motion, pain, balance, coordination, quality of mobility, and overall function.

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral disc disease, also known as IVDD or slipped disc disease, is an inherited condition of the spine.

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IVDD is considered a degenerative disk disease.  IVDD is caused by progressive degeneration of the intervertebral disks, which are the 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]

To Learn more about IVDD, please refer to our IVDD Part 1 post.

How Long Does IVDD Take to Heal?

After IVDD surgery, your dog will need crate rest, pain management, and physical therapy for about 6-8 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).

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Emergency Symptoms Post-Op Recovery:

If any of the following symptoms occur while your Dachshund is recovering from IVDD surgery, call your vet ASAP:

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

Treating IVDD in Dogs:

 Treatments for IVDD can go one of two ways: Conservative (non-surgical) or Surgical.   It all depends on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord.

When my miniature dachshund, Reno, occasionally would have issues walking.  My vet gave him some medication to help reduce the inflammation and pain he was experiencing.  That really helped him get back to feeling like himself again.

1. Conservative Treatment Method: (No-Surgery)

The Conservative Treatment Includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication from your vet
  • Crate rest for 6-8 weeks
  • Reduction of Activities in order to heal.

Can a Dog Recover from IVDD Without Surgery?

The conservative method is not the “cure all” for IVDD.  It is a treatment for the current spinal problem in order to help the dog ‘possibly’ walk again.

2. Surgical Treatment Method:

“If the damage is too severe and the dog is paralyzed or incontinent, conservative treatment may not be enough. In many cases, emergency surgery is needed to open up space. This is done by removing a portion of the bony vertebrae over the spinal cord (laminectomy). Even after surgery, however, the dog may not recover fully.” [7]

At the first sign of symptoms, it is crucial to get your dog to the vet.  If surgery is required, the sooner they have the operation the better chances of success they have to be able to walk again.  It is recommended that you have your dog’s surgery done by a trained neurologist, not a general veterinarian.

If successful, this surgery may fix the injured discs, but with IVDD, it is unfortunately possible that other discs can rupture in the future.

Successful Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD:

Some additional treatment methods include the following:

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Laser Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Stem Therapy
  • Physical Therapy Exercises

These methods can be used as conservative treatments or post – surgery treatments.


Hydrotherapy means “Water-Healing”  .  This type of therapy involves your dog swimming and the using an underwater treadmill.  Being in the water creates resistance and will cushion your dog’s joints.

How Does Hydrotherapy work for dogs?
When you pup is supported in the water, it reduces the weight and pressure on the joints. This method helps reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. It allows easier movement of joints.

Post-Op Dog Performing Hydrotherapy

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd
Photo Credit: Dachshund Breed Council, IVDD

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.

Laser Therapy:

With the help of Laser Therapy, Dogs that are not able to stand or walk can regain strength and get back to normal doggie activities. Laser Therapy can reduce the pain caused by IVDD.

Is Laser Therapy for Dogs Effective?
In some cases, laser therapy by itself, can be enough to stop pain and start healing your pup’s spine. Laser Therapy works directly on the affected areas.  It can strengthen your dog’s muscles and improve mobility.


The Acupuncture method used for IVDD reduces swelling, pain, and inflammation.  Acupuncture can restore the damaged nerves and promote faster healing.

Stem Cell Treatment:

Many studies are underway using Stem Cell treatment for dogs with IVDD.  Check out Jasper the Dachshund’s story on YouTube and how he regained his mobility after this treatment.

Physical Therapy Exercises for Dogs with IVDD:

The following are a list of exercises your dog may need to do post IVDD surgery.  Only do the exercises that your vet recommends for your dog.

  • 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.

Natural Supplements For Dogs With IVDD:

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

Note: I am not a veterinarian.  I am suggesting products that I have researched and read user reviews on.  Always check with your Vet before giving your dog any supplements.

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.

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.

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 for your dog.  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]

To Protect our Dachshund’s back, we purchased the Dachramp from Alpha Paw. It is lightweight, packs up flat, and nice rubber grips to help our doxies into our bed.  This is an Affiliate Link. Please review our Disclaimer for details.

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Our Dachshund puppy, Eko, loves his new dachshund ramp!

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Will My Dog Recover From IVDD?

Recovering from IVDD is a Case-By-Case Basis.  Many dogs who had the IVDD surgery, after being paralized, did walk again.  Through consistent physical therapy, patience, and the power of prayer, many dogs do regain the strength to return to normal daily activities.


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 Series). Includes: IVDD Prevention, Dog breeds affected by IVDD, IVDD Symptoms.

IVDD in Dachshunds

Helpful Resources:


  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