Dr. Andrew Isaacs
DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Dogwood Veterinary Referral Center
Primary interests include intervertebral disc disease, seizure management, luxations/fractures of the spine, and surgery for brain tumors
BRENDA WRITES ABOUT HER 3 Y.0. DOXIE:
I was not aware of IVDD until after we got her and now I realize that age 3-8 are the main IVDD years. I feel overly worried about IVDD and am wondering if it can be diagnosed before she would have any issues, or better yet, ruled out so I don’t have to worry so much about it?
Having a Dachshund is a wonderful thing and should be enjoyed.
Granted, they are a breed with a high incidence of IVDD, but this does not mean you need to go through the rest of her life worrying about her developing IVDD. There are precautions that help decrease the chances of her developing IVDD, but you need to let her enjoy being a dog. The goal is to minimize high impact activities: no jumping on/off of furniture (beds, sofas, windows, etc), walk outside on a harness (no neck leads), no tug of war or play toys that they “shake to death”, no tearing up/down stairs, no full body tackles by other dogs, etc.
To guarantee she does not develop IVDD you would need to keep her locked up in a cage her entire life. The reason you take pleasure in having her is that she has a good quality of life and you are able to take part in her enjoying it. So, you need to strike a balance between her quality of life and developing IVDD. A helpful approach is to look at both of your lifestyles, living environments, and personalities and decide what modifications are reasonable and what are not reasonable. After deciding what modifications you are going to make stick with them and then start enjoying her.
A similar analogy would be teenage children getting their drivers licenses. This is a time in their life when they are more likely to get in automobile accidents, so to prevent this we could keep them from driving, but they would be miserable. We do have them take drivers education class, encourage them to drive the speed limit, wear their seatbelts, no texting, pay attention to other drivers, etc. (and we don’t get them a convertible sports car). They may get in an accident, but at least we have taken all reasonable precautions to help prevent it.
Unfortunately, there is no way to diagnose IVDD beforehand. In addition to taking the above precautions, the key is recognizing the early warning signs that she may be developing IVDD. If you are able to identify IVDD early most of the time she can be treated with conservative medical management and will not require diagnostics. The first thing you will notice is her “not acting normal”, “just being off”, “reluctant to play”, or “a little slower”. At this point a visit to your veterinarian for an exam would be warranted. If no obvious abnormality is noted by your veterinarian to explain her being “off ” then keep her strictly cage rested for a minimum of 2 weeks and then slowly reintroduce activity. If at any point she starts to act drunk, wobbly, or scuffs her toenails alert your veterinarian immediately and consider advanced diagnostics (MRI or CT/myelogram).
Please let me know if you have any other questions. Remember, enjoy your Dachshund!