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
Hi, what is acceptable for a dog to do after having IVDD, is the dog allowed to run and play as usual, I understand no stairs or furniture but can the dog be a dog? Our dog loves running and playing in the backyard.
That is a very good question.
I think everyone has a different answer to this question.
But, in general the idea is to keep him strictly quiet immediately after surgery other than for low impact rehab sessions, then slowly reintroduce normal activity over a period of time.
The difficult part is what is “normal”.
The goal of doing surgery is to help improve your dog’s quality of life. I totally agree that not letting him do activities that are a part of a good quality of life defeats the purpose of having put him through surgery.
However, if possible, it is good to try to minimize the chance of your dog rupturing another disk.
Therefore, it is a balancing act between having enough activity to enjoy being a dog on one side and being too active and rupturing another disk on the other.
To guarantee he won’t rupture another disk keep him locked up in a cage the rest of his life.
To put him at significant risk, sign him up for the circus.
The goal is to find something in between.
Typically, the activities that would be good to try to discourage/minimize – jumping on/off furniture (sofas/beds), tearing up/down stairs (baby gates), giving them squeaky toys they “shake to death” and playing tug of war with them. Also try using a harness versus neck collar and taking outside on leash.
Again, easier said than done, but if you can it will help decrease the likelihood of rupturing another disk.
My advice is to decide what is reasonable with your lifestyle, house setup, your dog’s personality, and other variables at play and come up with a new set of “rules” to implement.
Once you have done this enjoy your dog.
[Editors note: Follow up to the ideas Dr. Isaacs suggested: