Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is an extremely painful and serious condition that can develop in a dog's spine. If your pup has IVDD, it means they may require surgery to help alleviate their pain and restore their mobility. Today, our Powder Springs vets share important details about this surgery.
A Dog's Intervertebral Disc
The intervertebral disc is a ring of fibrous tissue with a jelly-like inner substance that plays an important role as part of your dog's spine. Intervertebral discs give the spine flexibility and help to cushion the vertebrae whenever your dog is actively moving, running, or jumping.
Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)
Your vet might describe Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) as a herniated, bulging, slipped, or ruptured disk in the neck or back of your dog. While any breed of dog can get this condition it is seen most often in beagles, Dachshunds, basset hounds, Pekingese, and Shih Tzus.
Causes of IVDD in Dogs
Intervertebral Disc Disease is a gradual, age-related, degenerative process that affects the spinal cord of the dog over a period of time.
Dog's get IVDD when the shock-absorbing discs between your pup's vertebrae gradually start to harden until they can't cushion the vertebrae normally anymore. The hardened discs often continue to bulge and compress the spinal cord, in many situations damaging the dog's nerve impulses including the control they have over their bowels and bladder.
In other situations, a poor landing or simple jump can make one or more of the hardened discs burst and press into the nerves of your dog's spinal cord causing nerve damage, pain, or possibly even paralysis.
Treatment for Dogs With IVDD
Can my dog recover from IVDD without requiring surgery? If your pooch is suffering from IVDD but can still walk they might be able to recover with non-surgical treatments. However, if your dog has a severe case of IVDD and is no longer able to walk, they will require urgent emergency treatment (which will probably consist of surgery).
Non-surgical treatment for IVDD
Non-surgical treatment for IVDD (also called conservative treatment or IVDD management) aims at relieving your pup's pain and discomfort, getting your pet standing and walking again, and restoring lost bladder and bowel control. Non-Surgical treatments for IVDD in dogs include strict crate-rest, anti-inflammatory medications, dietary care (managing your dog's weight to relieve pressure on their back), and physical rehabilitation (physical therapy for dogs).
Surgery for Dogs with IVDD
In severe cases, when a dog can no longer walk, surgery may be the best and only available treatment for them. The goal of IVDD surgery is to remove the diseased intervertebral disk material in order to relieve the pressure on the dog's spinal cord. By relieving the pressure on your pup's spinal cord the surgery is helping to restore normal blood flow and prevent future disc problems.
There are various surgeries that could be used alone or together to treat dogs with IVDD. The surgery recommended for your pup will largely depend upon the location of the diseased disc. IVDD surgeries include hemilaminectomy, laminectomy, fenestration, and ventral slot. For some dogs, a vertebral stabilization (fusion) procedure may also be recommended, especially for larger breeds.
The cost for your dog's IVDD surgery will depend on the severity of their condition, the type of surgery being used, your location, as well as various other factors.
IVDD Surgery Success Rates
Most of the time the surgeries performed for dogs with IVDD are highly successful. The most successful outcomes are in dogs that haven't lost their ability to walk.
In dogs that have had ongoing symptoms of IVDD, atrophy of the spinal cord can occur and lead to less successful outcomes.
The expected recovery time for dogs after having IVDD surgery is approximately 6 - 8 weeks. While their spine is healing, your pooch will need medications to help them manage the pain and swelling. You will also have to restrict your pup's activity to very low levels. Your vet might also suggest physical rehabilitation (physical therapy for dogs) to help your pooch recover.
If IVDD surgery is not successful in restoring your dog's mobility, a doggie wheelchair can help your pup enjoy a happy and active life while living with Intervertebral Disc Disease.
My Dog Has Severe IVDD, Should I Consider Euthanasia?
Each dog is different, so your canine companion's prognosis will be based on a variety of different elements. Your vet will carefully and compassionately explain your dog's likelihood of recovery from IVDD so that you are able to make an informed treatment decision.
If you are considering euthanasia for your dog following an IVDD diagnosis, speak to your vet openly and honestly. Veterinary professionals have been trained to help you make the best decision for you and your dog.