IVDD, or intervertebral disc disease, is a very serious and painful condition affecting your dog's spine. If your pup has been diagnosed with IVDD which affects their ability to walk, surgery may be the best and only option for the treatment of their conditions, alleviating their pain and restoring their mobility. Here, our Torrance vets explain more.
The Intervertebral Disc
The intervertebral disc is a ring of tissue with a jelly-like inner substance that plays a key role in your dog's spine.
Intervertebral discs give the spine flexibility and help to cushion the vertebrae whenever your dog is actively moving, running or jumping.
Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD
When spoken about by your vet, IVDD may be described by your vet as a slipped, ruptured, bulging or herniated disc in your dog's spine, back or neck. While this condition may occur in any dog breed, it's most commonly seen in dachshunds, pekingese, shih tzus, basset hounds and beagles.
Causes of IVDD in Dogs
Intervertebral Disc Disease is a gradual, age-related, degenerative process that affects the spinal cord of the dog over a period of time.
IVDD occurs when the discs between your dog's vertebrae gradually start to harden until they aren't able to properly cushion your dog's vertebrae anymore. The hardened discs often go on to bulge and compress the spinal cord, in many cases damaging the dog's nerve impulses such as those that control bladder and bowel control.
In other instances, a simple jump and a poor landing may lead to one or more of their hardened discs bursting and pressing into the nerves of their spinal cord. This can cause your pup an incredible amount of pain, nerve damage and even paralysis
Treatment for IVDD in Dogs
Can a dog recover from IVDD without surgery? If your dog has IVDD, but is able to walk, non-surgical treatment may actually be able to help them recover. On the other hand, if your pooch has a very severe case of IVDD and has lost their ability to walk or stan, urgent emergency treatment is required, (which will likely include surgery).
Non-surgical treatment for IVDD
Non-surgical treatment for IVDD (also called conservative treatment or IVDD management) aims at relieving your pup's pain and discomfort, getting your pet standing and walking again, and restoring lost bladder and bowel control. Non-Surgical treatments for IVDD in dogs include strict crate-rest, anti-inflammatory medications, dietary care (managing your dog's weight to relieve pressure on their back), and physical rehabilitation (physical therapy for dogs).
Surgery for Dogs with IVDD
In more severe instances, when a dog has lost their ability to walk, the best and only treatment may in fact be surgery. The goal of IVDD surgery is to remove the diseased intervertebral disk material in order to relieve the pressure on the dog's the spinal cord. Relieving the pressure on your pet's spinal cord can help to restore normal blood flow, and prevent disc problems in the future.
There are a host of different surgeries that may be used either alone or together to treat dogs suffering from IVDD. The surgery recommended for your dog will depend largely on the location of their diseased disc. IVDD surgeries include: hemilaminectomy, laminectomy, fenestration and ventral slot. For some dogs, a vertebral stabilization (fusion) procedure may also be recommended, especially larger breeds.
IVDD Surgery Cost
The cost of IVDD surgery will depend on many different factors, including your vet's specific charges, the severity of your pup's condition and there the damage to your dog's discs are located. All of that being said, you can expect to pay in the region of $1,500 to $4,000 for IVDD surgery for your dog.
IVDD Surgery Success Rates
Surgery for dogs with IVDD is very successful in the majority of cases. Outcomes are most successful in dogs that have not lost their ability to walk.
In dogs that have had ongoing symptoms of IVDD, atrophy of the spinal cord can occur and lead to less successful outcomes.
Expect recovery from IVDD surgery to take about 6 - 8 weeks. While the spine is healing, your pet will require medications to help with pain management and swelling, and you will need to restrict your dog's activity to very low levels. Your vet may also recommend physical rehabilitation (physical therapy for dogs) to help your pup recover.
If IVDD surgery is not successful in restoring your dog's mobility, a doggie wheelchair can help your pup to enjoy a happy and active life while living with Intervertebral Disc Disease.
Should I consider euthanasia for my dog with severe IVDD?
Since every pup is unique, the prognosis for your pet will depend on their condition. Our vets will carefully and compassionately explain your dog's likelihood or recovering from IVDD and how much they can be expected to recover so you can make an informed treatment decision.