avoid ivdd in dachshunds

How to Avoid IVDD in Dachshunds

Updated 04/22/2024 by Ava Jaine

All Dachshund owners should be aware of the debilitating disease called IVDD.  Smaller dog breeds, like the Dachshund, are more susceptible to this disease because of their short stature and extra-long spine.

Whether you are currently going through Dachshund IVDD or would like to learn more about how to avoid IVDD in Dachshunds, we can help.

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Table Of Contents

 

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral disc disease, also known as IVDD or slipped disc disease, is a condition of the spine that affects about 25 percent of all Dachshunds. 

This disease occurs when a disc ruptures or slips in the middle of their back.  [1]

IVDD is considered a degenerative disc disease.  It is caused by a progressive degeneration of the intervertebral discs.  These discs are the cushion-like structures that separate each vertebra of the dog’s spine.

Here’s What Happens: As a disc degenerates, they calcify (harden) and lose their shock-absorbing ability. 

The discs will then become more susceptible to compression damage.  If a forceful movement occurs, the discs can rupture.

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

dachshund being checked for IVDD at the vet
 

Dachshund Fact: IVDD can show up as early as three years of age.

What Causes IVDD?

IVDD can arise from high-impact injury, obesity, or genetics. For dogs more prone to IVDD, like our dear Dachshunds, their spine begins to calcify when they are young, as early as 3 years old, setting the stage for a bulged or herniated disc.

How Does IVDD Cause Paralysis? When the nerves of the spinal cord are compacted, they are not able to deliver their signals to the legs, bladder, etc. If severely damaged, paralysis and loss of bladder or bowel control can occur.

Depending on the location of the bulging disc, signs occur anywhere in the body from the neck to the rear legs. [6]

 

How to Avoid IVDD in Dachshunds

Keep in mind, IVDD can result from genetics, high-impact injuries, or being overweight.

As doxie parents, we have an opportunity to lower the risk of IVDD from at least two out of these three factors.

Here are some safety measures you can follow to help reduce the risk of IVDD in Dachshunds.

  • Prevent Obesity

  • Reduce High Impact Activities

  • Gated Area
  • Walking with a Harness

  • Careful Handling

  • Avoid Breeding

  • Don’t Fix Too Early

1. Prevent Obesity

The most important step to lowering the risk of IVDD is to prevent your Dachshund from gaining too much weight.

Extra weight puts a lot of strain on your Dachshund’s spine and can increase the risk of intervertebral disc calcification.

Here are some easy-to-follow Dachshund Weight Loss Tips.

2. Reduce High Impact Activities

Your Dachshund may be willing to jump up and down on your furniture, but you really should discourage them from doing so.  Jumping or falling might cause the discs in the spine to burst, causing pressure and pain.

All Dachshunds should avoid high-impact activities including jumping and any activity that could put extra strain on their spine.

Dog Ramps: Providing a Dachshund Ramp at the edge of your couch and bed is a great way to allow your doxie to cuddle up next to you without high impact jumping.

This is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

The DachRamp From Alpha Paw is one of my favorites.
(Use code DACHSTATION20 for 20% off)

This ramp is super sturdy, it has nice rubber grips to help my doxies travel up and down with ease.  See my doxie, Eko’s picture below with his DachRamp.

 

Eko Loves his new Dachshund Ramp! Great quality, made in the USA, and a must-have for your Dachshund.

Post You May Like: Top 3 Best Dachshund Ramps for Bed, Sofa, & Car

dachshund sitting next to wooden dachshund ramp

Activities That Dachshunds Should Avoid

  • Jumping up or down on furniture: bed, couch, chair, etc..
  • Going up and down stairs

  • Playing rough tug-of-war
 

3. Gated Area

Using a puppy playpen, crate, or gated area is one of the most effective ways to prevent injury from high-impact activities.

My Dachshund puppy, Eko, does not like to be in an enclosed crate or kennel.  So, I like to use a puppy playpen (from Amazon) instead.  He is very calm and comfortable in his playpen, and it’s the perfect size for him.

avoid ivdd in dachshunds

4. Walking with a Harness

Dog harnesses are safer to use on your daily walks than a standard dog collar when trying to prevent Dachshund IVDD.

The harness fits around the Dachshund’s upper body and helps distribute the pull of the leash over a larger area, rather than having all the pressure applied to the neck, unlike a dog collar.

Using a dog harness will protect your doxie’s neck and back and help reduce the risk of IVDD in your Dachshund. [3]

You May Like:  #1 Best Harness For Dachshunds

Mini Dachshund wearing Puppia Dog Harness for Dachshunds
 

5. Careful Handling

When lifting your Dachshund, firmly support both the front and hind quarters with your hands.  Keep their back as straight as possible when lifting.

Avoid Roughhousing! Dachshunds love to play hard, but it is best to keep aggressive play at a minimum.

My Dachshund, Reno, loved to play fetch for long periods of time.  To prevent him from straining too much, I set a timer to make sure he didn’t overdo it. [1]

Avoid the Stairs:  Always carry your Dachshund up and down the stairs.

Install some puppy gates at the top and bottom of all staircases so they don’t try to do it themselves.

puppy dog gate

Amazon

 

6. Avoid Breeding

IVDD can be genetic.  If you are adopting a Dachshund puppy from a breeder, confirm that your pup’s parents don’t have IVDD.

You May Like: 10 Questions To Ask Before Adopting a Dachshund

7. Don’t Fix Too Early

If a Dachshund puppy is neutered or spayed too early, this can increase the risk of IVDD. 

It is recommended to wait until a certain age to prevent serious health risks and developmental issues.

You May Like: 5 Reasons Why You Should Wait To Fix Your Dachshund

How Common is IVDD in Dachshunds?

IVDD affects 25 percent of all Dachshunds.  That is 1-2 more times likely than any other dog breed.

 

What Dog Breeds are Affected by IVDD?

dog breeds affected by ivdd

Short-legged dog breeds have a higher risk of IVDD due to their genetic structure.

They are known as Chondrodystrophic dog breeds (CDDY). 

This means they were born with short legs (dwarfism), long backs, and are more susceptible to prematurely aged discs.

CDDY can also impact the health of dogs by causing premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs.  [4]

Top 5 Dog Breeds Susceptible to IVDD

  • Dachshunds
  • Corgis
  • Shih-Tzu
  • French Bulldogs
  • Beagles

Note: French Bulldogs are fast approaching Dachshunds for high risk of IVDD.

Other Dog Breeds Susceptible to IVDD

  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Basset Hounds
  • Pekingese
  • Poodles
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniels
  • Lhasa Apsos
 

Are There Different Types of IVDD?

Yes, there are two main types of IVDD seen in dogs: Type I and Type IIType 1 IVDD is considered more mild, while Type 2 is more severe.

IVDD Type 1:

Dachshunds that have IVDD Type 1 can generally heal over time and are able to resume their normal daily routines, including walking and playing.

Dachshunds with IVDD Type 1 may need some IVDD Physical Therapy to recover but are less likely to require surgery.

When my Dachshund, Reno, would play fetch for too long, he would struggle to walk around the house the next day.

I could tell his back was very sore and tender. The vet put him on some muscle relaxers and insisted on some extra time in the puppy playpen. That luckily did the trick.

It isn’t always clear when a back injury actually happens.  Your dog’s symptoms may not appear for a couple of days after the forceful impact.

Type 1 IVDD is considered the most common form of the disease and the dogs who are affected tend to be younger or middle aged (3-6 years old). [5]

 

IVDD Type 2:

IVDD Type 2 is considered a more severe form of the degenerative disease. Type 2 is usually age-related and can happen slowly over time, starting with just a few symptoms at first.

This type of IVDD occurs when the outer layer of the intervertebral disc bulges and enters the spinal cord area.  This compression on the spinal cord can happen slowly and may not cause pain immediately.

Older Dachshunds are the most affected by Type 2 IVDD. [5]

IVDD Affects 25% of Dachshunds Poster
 

What are the Symptoms of IVDD in Dachshunds?

Your Dachshund won’t necessarily have all of these symptoms, but this can help you know what to look for. It is crucial to get your dog to the vet at the first sign of symptoms.

Symptoms of IVDD:

  • Shivering
  • Whining
  • Avoids moving
  • Lowered head or holding head up in the air
  • Arched back
  • Tensed up tummy
  • Bladder or fecal incontinence
  • Wobbly legs
  • Knuckling a paw (paws placed upside down)
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty getting up from the floor
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Lack of coordination: swaying, wobbly
  • Paralysis in one or more legs
  • Anxious behavior
  • Sensitive to the touch

If your Dachshund is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, call your vet and have your dog seen within 24 hours

If your Dachshund shows paralysis symptoms (not able to move or dragging back legs), this should be treated as an emergency, and they should be seen immediately.

While waiting to see your vet, keep them secure and immobile.  Keep your pup in a dog crate or gated area to keep them resting as much as possible.

 

Diagnosing Back Problems in Dogs: What to Expect

 An examination by your vet will include a complete neurologic exam, which will help identify where in the spinal cord the injury is located.  Because the spinal cord does not appear on X-rays, special imaging may be needed to locate the injury. [7]

“A procedure called myelogram injects a special dye into the spine, which surrounds the spinal cord and allows it to appear on X-rays.  This test requires the animal to be put under anesthesia.

In some cases, further testing such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan can also be used to locate where the nerves are being pinched, which is necessary for surgical repair.” [7]

dachshund at the vet
 

Treating IVDD in Dogs:

 “Depending on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord, treatment can range from conservative to surgical.” [7]

Conservative Treatment Method:

“Conservative care usually includes treatment with drugs such as steroids and an anti-inflammatory to reduce the swelling of the cord and reduce pain.  The dog must also be kept confined in a crate or cage to prevent further damage.

Some vets may require strict crate rest for 6-8 weeks. 

After a period of resting, they may gradually return to normal activity.  If the dog still exhibits some sensation in the hind legs prior to surgery, it is highly likely that they will regain their ability to walk after successful surgery and rehabilitative care.” [7]

The conservative treatment includes lots of rest through crate confinement and reducing activities in order to properly recover.

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 regain their strength in order to walk again.

 

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]

If surgery is required, the sooner they have the operation, the better chances 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.

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

Therapy Treatments:

Here are some therapy treatments that can be used in conjunction with the Conservative and Surgical Method.

  • Laser Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretches
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physical Therapy Exercises

Read more about IVDD Therapy Options.

Successful Therapy For Dachshunds With IVDD
best harnesses for dachshunds
 
Best Dachshund Ramps for Bed, Sofa, and Car
Weight loss tips for dachshunds post

Helpful Resources:

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
 

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