We’ve already talked about the risk of IVDD in dachshunds and what that looks like in a recent blog post, but how do you actually go about preventing IVDD in dachshunds? How can you make sure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent this disease from occurring, from exercise to installing dog ramps in your home?
Well, first you need to understand what IVDD is.
IVDD (or intervertebral disc disease) is a back-related illness that impacts about one in four of all dachshunds. This is because dachshunds’ elongated bodies come with a special spine; this breed basically has discs between all its vertebrae along its long back that act as cushions. However, sometimes these cushions begin to deteriorate at an abnormal speed, which means that they can become painfully damaged, leading to lifelong problems and, in worse case scenarios, paralysis.
One of the main ways these discs can become injured is when your doxie puts an unnecessary amount of force on them — such as the force that occurs when they’re jumping from a relatively tall height, such as off the bed or off the couch. While this might just be a routine action for another dog breed, for dachshunds, this can spell trouble, triggering IVDD.
Signs and symptoms of an IVDD incidence include a sudden onset of pain that’s otherwise unexplainable, a lack of movement, odd positioning of your dog’s head or back and poor movement of the back legs.
Once your dachshund has IVDD, you can expect costly surgeries, months of physical therapy and a frustrating experience for both you and your dog.
Obviously then, you want to prevent IVDD in as many ways possible, from the very beginning. Yes, you should be looking out for and trying to prevent IVDD from Day 1 with your dachshund. Don't wait for old age. Most IVDD incidences occur when a dog is in their prime, as that's when they're most active.
This prevention can firstly be done through protecting and strengthening your dog’s back. Keep them healthy, at a good weight (dachshunds are prone to obesity and this can increase the likelihood of IVDD, as an obese dog is carrying around more weight with which to injure themselves) and exercising on a regular basis. As you’d expect, this exercise should not include any of the potentially harmful jumping mentioned above, but should be kept too long walks, hiking and similar moderately strenuous activity.
However, if you don’t fear your dog’s weight or lifestyle is an issue, you’ll want to turn to a second prevention method, which is preventing that unnecessarily strenuous activity. Don’t worry, though! This doesn’t mean you have to give up cuddling on the couch with your sausage dog forever. Instead, there are some really simple solutions — primarily, dog ramps.
Once you’ve got your dog ramp installed, one last thing you can do to prevent IVDD injuries is to train your dachshund to avoid stairs. Since training your doxie a new skill or behavior can take a while, you can also use baby gates or a similar stopper to block off stairways. While the jumps are a little less than bounding from the couch or the bed, stairs can still potentially rub your dog’s vertebrae the wrong way.
If Your Dog Already Has IVDD…
If your dog has already experienced IVDD, then you know the importance of protecting your dog’s back health. As you balance between strengthening your sausage dog’s back, but also protecting its delicate condition, these tips and tools can help ensure you do not have a second IVDD experience.