therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD

Updated 10/22/2021 by Ava Jaine

IVDD can be a scary diagnosis for any Dachshund owner.  Don’t lose hope!  There are many Successful Therapy Options for Dachshunds with IVDD, with or without surgery.

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Treatment methods for IVDD include Hydrotherapy, Laser Therapy, Acupuncture, Stem Cell Therapy, and Physical Therapy exercises.

Table of Contents

What is IVDD?

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

IVDD is a disease caused by progressive degeneration of the intervertebral disks.

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.

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]

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

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, because many doxies do walk again.

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).

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.

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

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 heal.

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.

Check out the YouTube Video IVDD in Dogs: JP’s Story.  JP was able to walk again using conservative treatment methods. Credit to Southern Cross Vet Clinic cc.

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 IVDD 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.

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Successful Therapy for Dachshunds with IVDD

IVDD rehabilitation services consist of progressive treatment plans that address your dog’s strength, range of motion, pain, balance, and mobility.  Some 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:

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 your 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 just 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 Effective For Dogs?

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.

Acupuncture:

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 using Stem Cell 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:

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

Note: I am not a veterinarian.  I am suggesting products that I have researched.  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.

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

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” based 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.

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Try this one: Marine Phytoplankton Omega 3 EPA

This is a vegetarian supplement that contains omega 3 fatty acids, but not fatty acids obtained from fish. [8]

Dachshund Mobility Aids

In addition to the above treatment options, you may also want to try a mobility aid for your doxie.  You can equip your dog with some wheels or a supportive back brace to help them get around with ease.

Dachshund Ramp:

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.

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

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

therapy for dachshunds with ivdd

Back Brace:

Orthopedic back braces can help your dog regain their strength and sense of independence. A sling or harness can also be beneficial for your dog. Use these tools to help your dog upstairs, into the car, or when navigating rough terrain. [8]

Dachshund Wheel Chairs:

Your Dog’s vet can help you find or customize a special wheelchair for your dachshund with IVDD.  A doggie wheelchair can provide excellent support for dogs that suffer from weakness or paralysis. You can actually find K9 Wheel Chairs on Amazon!

Post You May Like:  Best Dog Wheelchair Reviews by Canine Journal.com

Will My Dog Recover From IVDD?

Recovering from IVDD is a Case-By-Case Basis.  Many dachshunds who were treated for IVDD have been able to walk again.  Through consistent physical therapy, patience, and the all might power of prayer…many dogs do regain the strength to return to normal daily activities.

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 dachshund has been through IVDD, please post some lessons learned in the comments below.  We would love to hear from you.

Post You May Like: IVDD Diagnosis, Prevention, and Symptoms (Part 1 of the IVDD Series).

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Helpful Resources:

ivdd in dachshunds
Dachshund Seatbelts

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