IVDD Surgery in Dogs

What is IVDD in dogs? Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a very serious and painful condition affecting your dog's spine. If your dog has been diagnosed with IVDD, which affects its ability to walk, surgery may be the best and only treatment option for relieving pain and restoring your pup's mobility. 

The Intervertebral Disc

The intervertebral disc is a fibrous ring with a jelly-like inner substance that is an important part of your dog's spine. When your dog is actively moving, running, or jumping, intervertebral discs help to cushion the vertebrae and give the spine flexibility.

Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD

A ruptured, slipped, bulging, or herniated disk in your dog's back or neck is known as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). While this condition can affect any dog breed, dachshunds, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, basset hounds, and beagles are the most commonly affected.

Causes of IVDD in Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease is a gradual, age-related, degenerative process that affects the spinal cord of the dog over some time. 

The shock-absorbing discs between your dog's vertebrae gradually harden until they can no longer cushion the vertebrae properly, resulting in IVDD. Hardened discs often bulge and compress the spinal cord, damaging nerve impulses that control bladder and bowel control in dogs.

In other cases, a simple jump or poor landing can lead to one or more of the hardened discs bursting and pressing into the nerves of the dog's spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, or even paralysis.

Treatment for IVDD in Dogs

Can a dog recover from IVDD without surgery? If your pup has IVDD but is still able to walk non-surgical treatments may be able to help your pet recover from IVDD. On the other hand, if your dog has a severe case of IVDD and has lost its ability to walk, urgent emergency treatment is required, (which will likely include surgery). 

Non-surgical treatment for IVDD

The goal of non-surgical IVDD treatment (also known as conservative treatment or IVDD management) is to relieve your dog's pain and discomfort, get him up and walking again, and regain bladder and bowel control. Crate rest, anti-inflammatory medications, dietary management (managing your dog's weight to relieve pressure on their back), and physical rehabilitation are all non-surgical treatments for IVDD in dogs (physical therapy for dogs).

Surgery for Dogs with IVDD

In severe cases, when the dog has lost its ability to walk, the best and only treatment may be surgery. The goal of IVDD surgery is to remove the diseased intervertebral disk material to relieve the pressure on the dog's spinal cord. Relieving the pressure on your pet's spinal cord can help to restore normal blood flow, and prevent disc problems in the future.

There are a variety of surgeries that can be used alone or in combination to treat dogs with IVDD. The type of surgery your dog needs will be determined by the location of the diseased disc. Hemilaminectomy, laminectomy, fenestration, and ventral slot are some of the IVDD surgeries. A vertebral stabilization (fusion) procedure may be recommended for some dogs, particularly larger breeds.

For the cost associated with IVDD surgery, speak with your vet for a more precise estimate.

IVDD Surgery Success Rates

Surgery for dogs with IVDD is very successful in the majority of cases. Outcomes are most successful in dogs that have not 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.

Recovery from IVDD surgery should take 6 to 8 weeks. Your dog will need medications to help with pain and swelling while the spine heals, and you will need to limit your dog's activity to very low levels. Physical rehabilitation (dog physical therapy) may be recommended by your veterinarian to aid your dog's recovery.

If IVDD surgery is not successful in restoring your dog's mobility, a doggie wheelchair can help your pup to enjoy a happy and active life while living with Intervertebral Disc Disease.

Should I consider euthanasia for my dog with severe IVDD?

Because every dog is different, the prognosis of your pet will be determined by a variety of factors. Your veterinarian will carefully and compassionately explain the chances of your dog recovering from IVDD so you can 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.

If your dog is showing signs of IVDD contact Animal General right away to book an appointment with one of our vets.