Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
What is IVDD?
IVDD is any changes in the intervertebral disk which leads to protrusion or extrusion of the disk or disk material putting pressure on the spinal cord. It may occur anywhere along the spinal cord and thus may manifest itself in a variety of ways. There are different types of IVDD but they both have similar signs and concerns.
How does my dog get IVDD?
Although there are a number of breeds with a predisposition to IVDD, it is frequently just a part of the aging process. Extremely active and obese dogs have a greater chance of developing IVDD from chronic pressure on the vertebra.
How do I know if my dog has IVDD?
The severity of the signs vary depending upon the amount of the protrusion of the disk or the type of disk disease. The more common presentations for IVDD include pain, difficulty getting up, hesitancy to drink, pain when picked up, or in worst cases weakness or paralysis. If you have a breed with an increased risk and/or the above mentioned signs, consider it an emergency. The sooner treatment is initiated the better the prognosis. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and a specific neurological examination to determine the location of the disk disease. Radiographs will be used to look closer at the verterbra. Additional special tests including a myelgram, CAT scan, or MRI may be needed as well as a visit to a board certified surgeon.
What can I do about IVDD?
Treatment may be either medical or surgical or both. Medical treatment is focused on controlling the inflammation and the pain. Cage rest is mandatory for the best possible result. Surgery is reserved for the cases that are repeated or where there are neurological changes such as weakness or paralysis. There is a high recurrence rate thus rest, weight control, and avoiding undo pressure on the back is needed.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting IVDD?
Prevention is a combination of breed selection, weight control and exercise in moderation.
Are there certain breeds that get IVDD more often?
Beagle, toy poodle, dachshund, Pekingese, Doberman pinschers, bassett hounds, Lhasa aspos, Pomeranians, cocker spaniels, and the list goes on.