What is Canine IVDD and How Can I Prevent It?

Posted by Stacey Venzel

Intervertebral Disk Disease is a common spinal issue in smaller dog breeds, but you can decrease your pet's odds of contracting it.

Often described using a jelly donut analogy, intervertebral disks have two compartments, an outer "doughy" layer and an inner "jelly" layer. The disks act as shock absorbers, cushioning a dog's spine.

Hill's Pet Nutrition via Southeast Veterinary Neurology
Hill's Pet Nutrition via Southeast Veterinary Neurology

IVDD occurs when these disks become dislodged, torn, or swollen. The condition causes intense pain along the spine and can result in rear leg paralysis.

Short-statured dogs with long backs are often more prone to the illness, including Dachshunds, Beagles, Basset Hounds and, Shih Tzus. However, all dogs, even large breeds, can suffer from IVDD.

Vets are quick to theorize a potential diagnosis if the patient howls when his or her neck is stretched. A full neurological examination including palpation and radiographs will secure their diagnosis.

Bed rest can work wonders in reversing or subduing IVDD. In severe cases, surgery might be required.

So, how can you prevent IVDD?

1. Limit jumping. Steps and ramps are ideal for beds.

Olaf Gradin/Flickr
Olaf Gradin/Flickr

2. Maintain a healthy weight in your dog.

3. Use a harness on walks to minimize neck stress.

Local Pups/Flickr
Local Pups/Flickr

4. Avoid breeding IVDD individuals as the disease can be genetic.

The road to recovery is long, so prevention, when possible, is key when it comes to IVDD. Make sure you take these extra easy steps to protect your pooch.

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