You may have seen this year on Crufts, Poppy a beautiful Mini Dachshund with a condition called IVDD. They showed a short feature of her day to day life, which included a few different clips of her swimming in our pool! We had the amazing opportunity to film with a team sent from Channel 4 to film Poppy, it was a great experience that we are so grateful for and will never forget!
But what is IVDD.
IVDD stands for Intervertebral Disc Disease. It is the most common spinal disease found in dogs. In basic terms, IVDD is when one or more of the discs that sit in between the vertebrae in the spine deteriorate and break down. Within the discs is a jelly like substance, much like a doughnut! This jelly is pushed out of the disc and presses on the spinal cord, affecting nerves and signals to the rest of the body. Each dog will be affected by this disease differently, some may just experience temporary nerve damage and get full feeling back after a few months, others, like Poppy become paralysed for the rest of their lives. Some dogs can make a full recovery after months of crate rest and lots of TLC, sometimes it can take just days until they are running around again. Sometimes dogs who go through an episode of IVDD can be operated on, sometimes operating won’t any difference. But Poppy shows there is life, and a good one, after IVDD!
Will my dog get IVDD
This is a condition which affects many different breeds but is most well-known for paralysing Dachshunds and other long bodied breeds. The current statics show that 1 in every 4 Daxi’s will suffer from this horrible condition at some point during their life. IVDD can affect any dog, at any age, and without any warning. It usually occurs in older dogs as it is a degenerative condition, but sometimes it can be caused by injury, and sometimes, most the time, there is no explanation at all.
How can you prevent IVDD.
To put it bluntly, you can’t. Some research suggests that if you stop your dog jumping on and off things, like the sofa or bed or in and out of the car or going up and down the stairs, that this can help decrease the risk. Other research shows that preventing your dog doing all these things doesn’t make any difference. Some say that walking your dog in a harness will help, some say it causes it. So really, no one knows. IVDD is known to be a genetic condition, but as it doesn’t tend to occur until later on in life it is usually too late and puppies have already been bred from the affected dog or dogs. Tests are starting to become available for breeders to x-ray their dog’s spine before they breed but this is expensive, and can’t 100% guarantee the puppies won’t suffer.
My experience with a Chondrodystophic dog. Aka a long dog!
Having two dachshunds myself I have spent a lot of time researching this disease and trying to prepare myself for the worst. However, from what I have read and from building my own opinions, I take the view that my dogs are allowed to be dogs, Yes, they jump on and off the sofa, and the bed. Not the car but that’s only because they physically can’t!
They run, play and fight with each other and much bigger dogs, get stood on and knocked over sometimes, but they love it and always get back up and carry on. I walk them in harnesses, but they are trained not to pull on the lead as I know this can cause damage to their throats and necks and maybe their backs, (I also find pulling dogs very annoying!)
They aren’t picked up very often, if they are I am careful how I carry them, the same as I am with any animal. They are fed the best, species appropriate diet and take supplements which I will increase as they get older.
I know lots of people out there will disagree with some of the things I do, and I completely understand why. But it is a personal risk I’m willing to take. Am I prepared for the worst? Not at all! I don’t think anyone can be, but I know I’m very lucky with my job that I have a great network of amazing and supportive people and colleagues around me, including Physios, Osteopaths, Hydrotherapists and Vets, that will make sure I do the best for them if that time comes.
My preparation advice, start to build your own trusted network! Find a Vet you trust, book a session with a Physiotherapists or Osteopath every couple of months just so your dog gets used to it and you can build a relationship with them. Who doesn’t love a nice relaxing massage anyway!? And book your dogs in for a swim! It is a lot easier to help dogs who have already been to us, they recover quicker and get the most of their sessions sooner as we have already got over the stress of the lessons whilst they are fit and healthy!