Can my dog live a happy life with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)?

by Victoria Runnoe March 30, 2021

Can my dog live a happy life with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)?

Intervertebral Disc Disease or IVDD is a degeneration of the spine most often seen in small dogs and those with long backs and short legs, such as Dachshunds. IVDD often leads to significant pain and reduced motion and in some severe cases paralysis may occur. Of course, this all reduces the dogs quality of life and while surgery is an option, some pet parents want to avoid putting their pup under the knife. This makes many pet owners ask the question of “Can my dog live with IVDD?

Luckily, the answer is YES, here's how:


  • Maintain a Healthy Diet - Obviously, a healthy dog is one with a better quality of life. Unfortunately, without a good diet and frequent exercise, a dog is more likely to experience a number of medical issues, such as diabetes and heart problems, and their life expectancy drops. 


    • Thin dogs are healthy dogs - Excess fat causes more stress on the spine since it has to support more weight than intended, so keeping a healthy weight is important in maintaining a strong back for your pup.



    • Mostly wet food diet - Since wet food is easier to consume, it requires less jaw strength to chew. Whereas hard kibble can prove painful for a dog with severe IVDD since the extra jaw strength required to chew food puts extra stress on their jaw and neck. 

  • Eliminate stress - By eliminating stress on your dogs back, the progression of IVDD will be significantly less. Dogs with IVDD need special considerations in their environment so that they are safe from potential hazards that would deteriorate their spine further. 


    • Raised food and water bowls - Ultimately, this relieves stress on the neck and spine since the pup doesn’t have to bend down as much to eat or drink.



    • Hold them with support - In fact, there is actually a right way to pick up a dog: place one hand on their chest and the other under their hind legs creating a seat for the pup. This keeps the dogs spine aligned and supported and therefore less likely to harm their back.


    • Avoid collars and head harnesses - It’s important to realize that collars and head harnesses add stress during a walk, especially if your pup loves to tug on the leash to sniff the roses.


    • Avoid jumping - Especially off high surfaces like couches or sitting laps, high stress on pups backs occur when they hit the ground. Invest in ramps that allow the dog to easily get up and down from high surfaces without the need to jump, even stairs can cause damage since some small dogs have to hop from stair to stair. 
  • Relieve pain - Last but not least, pain management and relief is an important aspect to keep in mind for treating a dog with IVDD. Pain often causes a dog to tense up, trying to find a comfortable position while inadvertently causing more damage. Consequently, a vicious cycle of pain and deterioration ensues. The hunched position causes pain, exacerbating IVDD and spine deterioration. 


    • Medication - Through daily pills, inflammation and pain can be managed and reduced significantly.


    • Dog Back Brace - The patented L'il Back Bracer is designed to help keep your dog’s back supported, alleviating pressure on the spine and stabilizing the back from both above and below. This extra support relieves pain caused by joint strain. 



    • Crate rest in a comfy crate - Crate rest involves reducing a dog's overall mobility temporarily, giving their body time to heal itself. Having a well padded crate for your pup to rest in will ease any pressure put on their joints and especially on their back. It’s also important to keep in mind that some dogs with IVDD may lose control of their bladder so changing out their bedding every now and then will keep them comfy and clean. Raising the crate off the ground will also reduce the stress put on the pups neck when they look up at their person. 



    • Heat therapy - This relieves pain and decreases muscle tension by increasing blood flow. The Haute L'il Back Bracer combines the patented L’il Back Bracer design with the additional benefit of heat therapy with air activated, disposable heat packs. 


    • Acupuncture - By carefully placing very small needles into precise nervous system junction locations, pain and inflammation can be reduced. For IVDD, acupuncture is focused on the major spinal nerves, which may sound painful but the body releases different endorphins and anti-inflammatory chemicals that allows the body to heal itself naturally.


    • Laser therapy - Similar to acupuncture, laser therapy focuses on the problem areas of the spine to reduce inflammation which relieves pain. Low Level and Light laser therapy are both non-thermal laser therapy forms that may reduce pain. 



Victoria Runnoe
Victoria Runnoe


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