IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) is a spinal condition where one or more discs (the cushioning in between each vertebra in the spine) begins to degenerate. This can range from mild symptoms (discomfort, stiffness) to severe (complete paralysis of the limbs). Usually, it’s the discs in the middle of the back that are affected which will impact the hind legs, but occasionally discs higher up such as in the neck can suffer this which will affect all 4 limbs.
All dogs can get IVDD, but the most commonly affected breeds have a genetic condition known as Chondrodysplasia (CDPA).
CDPA is a genetic skeletal trait that affects the development of cartilage growth plates. It is generally characterised by a normal-sized trunk and shorter than normal limbs. Dachshunds, French Bulldogs and Corgies are a few breeds that fit this description.
Humans also get similar disc problems, often we’ll call it a bulging or herniated disc, or using poor & outdated terminology, a ‘slipped disc’.
What’s interesting is that while humans and dogs can both experience similar disc problems, humans rarely end up with complete paralysis and requiring surgery, where as this is the normal presentation for so many dogs.
The difference is in our anatomy.
Dogs have no pain-sensing nerves in their discs. This means that they have no idea that their disc is damaged until it’s so bad that one day they can’t walk.
We as humans however have a reasonable nerve supply in our discs. This means we can feel early problems in our discs (pain) and take preventative measures to stop it from progressing to the point where we can’t walk. This could be rest, exercise, physio/osteo/chiro and instinctively avoiding things that aggravate it.
If we let our disc problems progress to the point that we couldn’t walk, like many dogs experience, then we’d probably be up for surgery as well.
In most cases, your vet will perform a hemilaminectomy where they cut out some of the bone in the vertebra next to the bulging disc. This gives the disc a bit more space and reduces the pressure on the spinal cord.
The recovery time varies from 2-3 months in the lesss severe cases, up to 12 months or longer in the very bad, but rare cases. Rehabilitation is extremely important, especially in the more severe cases to give your dog the best chance at a full recovery.
Below is a quick case study on one of our patient’s Peach, who had a great result despite the early signs not looking too positive.
If you have a dog that has been diagnosed with IVDD and would like to know more about how rehabilitation can be included in their management, get in touch with us by calling 02 9188 0863 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org