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Common Questions About Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

 

1. Why does Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) happen?

There are two general types of IVDD, Types I and II. Type I IVDD typically affects younger to middle aged chondrodysplastic dogs (smaller dogs with short legs) such as the Dachshund, and usually results in an acute onset of clinical signs. Type I IVDD degeneration begins early in life in predisposed breeds. Over time, the center of the disk (called the nucleus pulposus) loses water content and undergoes calcification. As a result, the disk is prone to herniation and extrusion of disk material into the spinal canal causing compression of the spinal cord.

Normal Canine Spine, Reprinted with permission by the copyright owner, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Canine Spine with IVDD. Reprinted with permission by the copyright owner, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

2. What are the signs to watch for?

Disk herniation results in varying degrees of pain and neurologic deficits depending on the site of disk herniation, degree of spinal cord compression, and amount of concussive injury or bruising to the spinal cord. Common signs may include reluctance to move or jump, holding the nose pointed to the ground (common in neck injuries), holding the head arched backwards (common in back injuries), screaming or crying when touched or picked up, trembling, an ataxic (wobbly or uncoordinated) gait, and dragging one or more legs (often both back legs).

3. Why aren’t x-rays sufficient to diagnose IVDD?

Radiographs (or X-rays) are an excellent diagnostic tool, and can be used to rule out other processes such as broken bones, cancer of the bone or infection of the bone. Radiographs can also suggest intervertebral disk disease, but do not provide enough information to allow for surgical planning. A myelogram can demonstrate cord compression, but is not specific for IVDD. This test is more invasive and involves injection of a contrast agent into the spinal canal. Computed tomography (CT) can also be used with or without a myelogram to identify the site of disk herniation. A CT does provide more detailed images of the bone and spinal cord than radiographs. However, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides the best imaging of the spinal cord and intervertebral disks. MRI allows detailed evaluation of the spinal cord and offers superior images for diagnosis and surgical planning

4. I had a friend who’s dog recovered with steroids. Can’t we give my dog steroids?

Medical and surgical options are available for treatment of IVDD. Dogs that are more severely affected (pain that does not respond to medications and rest, and dogs that are showing neurologic signs such as wobbliness or dragging the back legs) are candidates for surgical management. Dogs that are less severely affected (first-time with pain only, or dogs that can still walk but are wobbly) may be treated with medical management. Medical management consists of strict cage confinement and medications to relieve pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs (ex. Rimadyl) or steroids (ex. Prednisone) can be used to reduce inflammation and pain associated with disk herniation, but should not be used in combination. Additionally, other pain medications may be used to keep pets comfortable. Typically, it takes dogs longer to recover if they are managed conservatively, their degree of recovery is less than with surgery, and the risk of recurrence is higher than with surgery.

“Mega-dose” steroids such as large amounts of dexamethasone or Solu-medrol (methylprednisolone sodium succinate) have fallen out of favor with most veterinary neurologists. There are several studies that support this. In one study, dogs treated with surgery alone had as high of a chance of recovery as those treated with surgery and steroids. In several other studies, dogs that received steroids had a higher likelihood of side effects such as stomach upset and urinary tract infections. Recently, a multi-institutional, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study comparing solu-medrol, polyethylene glycol and placebo was completed. While the results have not yet been published, the researchers have reported that there is no beneficial effect of solu-medrol OR polyethylene glycol over surgery alone.

5. What are the chances of fixing my dog?

Prognosis depends on the degree and duration of neurological signs and type of treatment. Many dogs treated conservatively can improve; however, time to recover is longer, completeness of recovery is less, and recurrence of clinical signs is higher. Many dogs with mild neurological signs (can walk, but are mildly incoordinated) can have a functional recovery with medical therapy. Dogs who are unable to walk, but can still move their legs, have a worse prognosis (50-60% chance) fore returning to normal function with medical management. The prognosis for paralyzed dogs treated conservatively is guarded with only 50% of dogs returning to an ambulatory status with fecal and urinary continence.

Dogs that are managed with surgery have a good prognosis for walking again even if they have severe neurologic deficits. Additionally, these dogs recover faster and have less chance of recurrence. Even paralyzed dogs have about a 95% chance of walking again with surgical treatment if they can still perceive pain in their affected limbs.

Prognosis declines if dogs lose the ability to perceive pain and is dependent on time. Dogs without pain perception have about a 50-60% chance of walking again with surgery if it is performed within the first 24 hours. However, the chance of walking is low (5%) if treated conservatively.

6. What are the chances of this happening again?

Recurrence of disk herniation occurs but is less common in dogs treated surgically. About 10-20% of dogs will herniate another disk at another point in their lifetime and may require surgery. Recurrence rates tend to be higher (40-50%) in dogs that are managed medically. Dr. Michael Wong and the staff at Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN) are specialists in diagnosing and treating IVDD.  If you have any questions about your pet and your veterinarian has recommended evaluation by a neurologist, please contact SEVN at (305) 274-2777.

51 Comments

  1. Melissa on July 3, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    My french bulldog had a hemilaminectomy about three weeks ago. Prior to the surgery she had mobility in her legs and could stand for short periods. She also had deep pain sensation. After three weeks and 6 laser therapy treatments, she still has no deep pain sensation and cannot walk. Currently we are trying physical therapy. Is it likely that she will regain any normal function, or deep pain sensation?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 5, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Melissa. While it’s tough for us to know without seeing your Frenchie in person, it would be considered atypical/unexpected to go into surgery with the ability to move the legs and come out without any feeling. Please call the office at (305) 274-2777 or (561) 736-7736 so we can take a closer look and be of more use.



  2. Deb Freeman on July 8, 2018 at 5:49 am

    Hello We live in Australia, my doxie had surgery for IVDD in May 2016 after she lost the use of her back legs but still had deep pain sensation. She was crated for 8 weeks recovery recovered well and although a tiny glimpse of weakness on her left rear leg she was well and back to her normal self. In May this year, she had a bought of pain on picking her up and her back end became wobbly and her tail was droopy. We crated her again for 4 weeks with Previcox and Tramadol and she recovered well. We started walking her for short walks and she seemed fine but last week she went down hill again and is now in pain (yelping when we pick her up) and is reluctant to stand. She has strength on her right if we stand her up but her left leg she is holding up and is weak on that side. Vet is unable to do anything other than re-supply meds for which she has been on for 6 days now but she is still in pain and no better. We are crating her. What are the chances of recovery if a second operation is done?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Deb,
      Sorry to hear that your puppy is going through this not once, but twice. Unfortunately, dachshunds are more likely than other breeds to have IVDD. Like your dog, most dogs have a 90-95% chance of having an excellent recovery as long as they still have deep pain perception.

      Unfortunately, also like your dog, pets that have one slipped disk are at risk for having a second disk extrusion at some point in their life. We do a preventative procedure at SEVN that reduces the likelihood of a second disk herniation, but it is still possible.

      Also like your dog, many dogs can improve with crate rest and pain medications. This works in about 50-60% of dogs that can still feel and move their legs. That means 40-50% of dogs won’t respond to rest and medications and would benefit from surgery.

      It is impossible for me to give an accurate answer without seeing your pet. However assuming your dog has a new slipped disk, and since she can still walk but is having pain that isn’t resolving with rest, another MRI is warranted. If a slipped disk is found, the likelihood of recovery should again be in the realm on 95%.



  3. Angie on January 12, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Hi there,

    We live in Australia, and come across this website.
    We brought our french bulldog to the emergency on Friday as he was yelping in pain, and the vet highly suspicious its IVDD and advise to get a CT scan and surgery.

    We boarded him at the emergency , however the next day the surgeon contacted us recommending conservative management treatments. She explain even though our french bulldog’s neck is still looking stiff and sore but he is able to walk, and have normal activities such as eat, pee and poo.
    We took the advise from the surgeon, however we are concern if the medication management treatments does’t works, or doesn’t completely heal ( given the likelihood of reoccurrence ).

    From your profession perspective, would you recommend surgery for dog has IVDD, at least it will completely take off the cushion and it can’t happened on that area again ? Rather than risking the likelihood of medication might not heal or it might happen again down the road.

    Also, I wanted to ask what’s the effect of surgery would have to a dog if we decided to forgo conservative treatments ( even though there’s improvements) and go ahead with surgery ?

    I hope you can assists with my enquiry.

    Many many thanks.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on March 12, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      Hi Angie. I apologize for the late response. I suspect that your French Bulldog is feeling much better by now. In general, dogs that have neck pain “only” (meaning no other neurological abnormalities like difficulty walking, etc) have about a 65-70% chance of improving without surgery. Treatment often involves pain medications and strict cage rest. If symptoms are not improving significantly in the first week, if pain comes back in the future, or if symptoms worsen (dragging a limb, unable to walk, worsening pain), then an MRI and possible surgery are recommended. We have about a 98% success rate for dogs with neck pain due to a slipped disc.

      I hope your pup is feeling better.

      Dr. Wong



  4. Marina on March 12, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Hi!
    My dog started dragging her left hind leg out if no where. Her leg was like stiff and straight. I took her to the er vet and also saw a neurologist who said it can be ivdd or FCE or cancer/tumor, ect. I can’t afford an MRI right now so it’s hard to make a diagnosis. She can walk on her 3 legs but drags the other leg / she doesn’t put a lot of pressure on it when standing or walking. Her leg would “knuckle” over first two days but now I don’t see that. Sometimes it looks like she hops. But she doesn’t cry out or seem in pain..
    She only walks when i take her out to use the bathroom 3-4x a day for 5 min at a time.

    Doc gave gabapentin & started on steroids dexamethasone 50mg 1/2 tablet 2x day.
    So far it’s day 2 of steroids.

    What if the steroids don’t help? It’s so hard when you don’t know what is actually wrong with your pet and I am full of anxiety.

    Any advice would help tremendously.

    Thank you!



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on March 12, 2019 at 10:05 pm

      Hi Marina. It’s very challenging to come to a diagnosis just be hearing or reading a description. A lot of things can cause dragging of one limb that come out of nowhere and don’t cause pain. Like your neurologist said, it could be IVDD, an FCE or a tumor. As you know, it’s tough to know exactly what to do without a diagnosis. This is why an MRI is so important. Certainly, we understand that MRI’s have an expense associated with them.

      It is reasonable and quite common to try “rest and medications” when a dog is showing symptoms such as yours and we don’t know the cause. It sounds like you’ve got a good neurologist on your team. I would follow her or his advice.

      We wish you and your puppy the best of luck.

      Dr. Wong



  5. Jamie on March 25, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    My dog was experiencing back pain and was reluctant to jump about a week ago, and we tried to just keep him from doing anything too crazy and from jumping. He was still running around the house, though. Now for about the past 3 days, he has gotten worse. His hind legs are now wobbly and still not tolerable to much activity. He had been walking to go potty outside, and he was slow but steady. Today, he became wobbly and every so often he seems to fall to the left side, almost as if his leg is too weak to hold him up any longer or maybe even him losing balance. We have had him on strict crate rest since his symptoms worsened and we realized it was IVDD. We let him walk for short periods of a couple minutes every few hours. My questions are, about how long should it take before we start seeing an improvement? Is it normal to see a little bit a decline before it starts to get better? And also, is there anything else we can do at this point from home to help healing? Were doing crating, massage, heat, cbd, and a glucosamine supplement.



  6. Jamie on March 25, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Sorry, to add on to my previous post, he was also treated for IMHA. He completed his treatment and has been in remission since 8/2017. Gums are pink, he is eating and drinking, urine is normal yellow color. For this reason, I am scared to introduce any further stress, such as surgery, or new medications.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on March 28, 2019 at 7:13 am

      Hi Jamie. What kind of dog do you have? (age, breed, gender, etc). There are many things that can cause pain, reluctance to jump and weakness in the legs. You mention possibly losing balance. It’s not clear from a description what exactly your pet is doing. A consultation with a neurologist will help determine where in the neurological system the problem is (e.g. whether it’s a back problem, or whether it’s a balance problem). This will change the list of possible causes, the tests recommended, the treatment options, etc.



  7. Patricia on April 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Hi, my dog just had surgery 5 days ago for a ruptured disk and is still is not feeling her back legs. We get to bring her back home today. My question is how soon should I consider buying a wheelie?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on April 1, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Patricia. Great question. We typically give a 50% chance of regaining the ability to walk in a dog that had surgery that was NOT able to FEEL the back legs (as opposed to 95% chance if they CAN feel the back legs). Typically, if feeling is going to come back, it will do so within a month. Many neurologists give it 2 weeks, but I have had a handful of dogs that could not feel at 2 weeks, but could feel at 4 weeks post surgery. I typically do not fit with a wheelchair until the pet has been without feeling for one month. If feeling has not returned in 4 weeks, it is unlikely to return and that is when I fit with a cart. There is no exact science that all neurologists agree upon, so if this opinion differs from your neurologist, err on the side of following your neurologist’s recommendation. Fingers crossed that your pup responds to surgery and doesn’t need a cart. But if she does, she will still have a great quality of life.



  8. Colleen on April 3, 2019 at 12:24 am

    My 8-9 year old Miniature Pinscher just had an MRI that confirmed IVDD. The neurologist has recommended surgery. She has had symptoms for about 3 months.

    I have done what amounts to crate rest, and as soon as she goes off of medication it is apparent she is in a lot of pain. Once in a blue moon, I see her leg slightly drag but for only a second, and it’s not a knuckle drag. Otherwise, she doesn’t have any signs other than the pain in her neck. She hasn’t gotten any worse in the past 3 months.

    Is surgery a bit extreme under the circumstances?

    How long could she stay on medication typically, as I know dogs differ, before it would take a toll on her organs?

    Thanks.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on April 3, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Many dogs with neck pain due to IVDD can improve without surgery. Typically, if they are going to improve, they will do so within a week. Pain that comes back when medications are stopped (such as your dog), or pain that doesn’t improve with medications is a reason to consider surgery. Most dogs with a slipped disk in the neck that is “only” showing severe neck pain have about a 95-98% chance of getting better with surgery.

      With regards to your question about how long she can stay on the medications, it depends on what medications are being used, at what dosage and what other health concerns your pet may have. I wouldn’t be able to answer without a full evaluation.



  9. Jade on May 6, 2019 at 1:47 am

    My 3 year old minicockapoo has ivdd with no deep pain sensation. i am looking for info about long term care, will he ever be able to be left unattended? will he always have to be in a crate if he is unattended? how long until the pain in his spine due to the initial injury goes away? will he always be in pain?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on May 6, 2019 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Jade. Please note that these answers are generalized about my experience with ‘most dogs’ as opposed to medical advice for your particular pet, since I haven’t seen your pet in person. Assuming your dog has a slipped disk (since there are other diseases that can cause the exact same symptoms)… most dogs that are paraplegic with no deep pain perception eventually can be left unattended and do not always need to be in a crate. Most dogs start being out of pain relatively quickly (days to a week or two) after the initial injury (assuming your pet is receiving pain medications). He should not always be in pain. Most dogs that are permanently paralyzed (no deep pain perception) can have an excellent quality of life and can get around well in a cart/wheelchair.

      As always, seek the advice of a neurologist. If one is able to evaluate your pet in person, their opinion will likely be more valid than mine since I haven’t evaluated in person.



  10. Janette on May 16, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Do you recommend any kind of supplement or vitamin for dogs that had a episode of ivvd in the past



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 15, 2019 at 9:35 am

      Hi Janette,
      None in particular. A good plane of nutrition, keeping at a healthy body weight and avoiding high-impact activities are what we typically recommend.



  11. Jay on May 31, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Hi. Great information here.

    My dog had what looked like early initial signs of IVDD which appeared on a wellness scan she had. That was about two years ago. Her legs were still strong at this point.

    Today, she has hind leg weakness and walks very wobbly. She is able to walk and get herself up but unable to run or utilize stairs. Her legs splay sometimes when walking on tile. When this happens, she usually poops herself. This has only happened maybe 7 times in 2 years. 3 times I have seen her have some sort of back spasm wherein she also defecated.

    When I notice she is walking worse, I lock her away and after a few days she gets relatively better. She seems to have flare ups that set her off. She may have a week where she is walking pretty good and then a few days where its pretty bad. Again, I lock her away to resolve. She is also on galliprant (and gabapentin) which I understand is an arthritis medication but deals with inflammation.

    I am wondering if her come and go symptoms are typical of IVDD or if something else may be going on?

    I wonder if she should be put on prednisone and crate rested?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 15, 2019 at 9:37 am

      Hi Jay, sorry for the delayed response. I don’t frequently see IVDD as a cause of weakness in 14 year-old Siberian huskies. While it is certainly possible as a cause, there are other possible causes, such as tumor, infection, inflammation or even problems that aren’t stemming from the spinal cord. If possible, I would set up a consultation with a neurologist to evaluate your pup in person.



  12. Jay on May 31, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I forgot to mention that my dog is 14 and she is a Siberian husky. I really don’t want to do surgery due to her age.



  13. Irene Fung on June 4, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    First of all, thank you so much for the informative website. Your website gives me some hope and answers a lot of questions I have. No words could express my gratitude.

    I think my veterinarian is dismissing my KCS with the sole idea of putting her to sleep because she is already 13 and 3 months. But my KCS is still so eager to go outside everyday and spins on the carpets out of excitement sometimes (even though her hind legs can’t support her). She still loves her food. I don’t want to put her to sleep when she is still so eager to live. Even if I could just have her for one more year or half an year, as long as she is happy and not suffering, I would be so grateful. Your help will be much appreciated.

    At present, my KCS can definitely feel pain in both hind legs. But she does not seem to be in pain even without Metecam (cuz I have massaged her entire body very thoroughly but she does not make any squeaky sound, nor does she try to move away). She could walk a very short distance but with wobbling on a non-slippery floor. I think she is Type II stage 3.

    The vet put her on Metacam, insisting that steroid is not more effective but needs to be tapered off and therefore is not good (??). Metacam does not seem to help. But I have read several websites where the neurologists and dog owners say that from their own personal experience, prednisone works better. Should my dog try prednisone if Metacam is not helping? How long I should wait before switching? Note that my dog’s blood work shows that her liver and kidney etc are very good. In addition, her heart is also excellent with zero heart murmur or racing.

    Other than Metacam, my veterinarian just said let my dog rest. But when I researched on the topic, it seems that my dog needs not just rest, but crate rest. Should I put my dog in crate rest? For how long? 6 weeks?

    My veterinarian has not told me how long my dog should be on Metacam, and when could I see improvement. She says Metacam is mainly for pain. So… would my dog get better on Metacam? Or is my dog on Metacam for life just for pain control?

    My veterinarian says it is time to put the dog to sleep if she loses bowel or urine control. (My dog has no issue on either at present.) But I do not mind cleaning up after her even if she is incontinent. If my dog cannot urinate in future, could I use catheterization to help her? (I saw a video on expressing urine and it seems difficult.) What if she cannot have a bowel movement? Could she be on laxative every day?

    I am getting my dog a wheelchair. Should I wait until she gets better to do this? How long should I wait? (I worry the manipulation or movement during the wheelchair fitting will hurt her spine more.)

    Should my dog still go through surgery? At present, she could walk may be 2 blocks with wobbling and slips. But my veterinarian has not mentioned surgery at all. (History details: She started to slip on slippery surface may be since last Fall and she stopped running since last December. In mid January this year, she started to slip even at home, so I covered the floor with mats and she could walk. But I never thought of IVDD. It was so gradual that I just thought she was getting old and therefore having less strength in the legs naturally. (Also, my own illness returned so I was very overwhelmed for several months. ) But she still walked more than 1 km with me every day even though her legs wobbled and she had slips from time to time. Then last Wednesday morning, she was jogging and pulling on the leash, and I let her jog for 1.75km. It was immediate deterioration afterwards and she was reluctant to get up. But then it was up and time. Sometimes, she would still walk and spin with excitement even though she wobbled and slipped a lot. )

    If my dog is not cured from IVDD, could she continue to live with a pain-free quality life with wheelchair and Metacam?

    I am so sorry that I have so many questions. But with my veterinarian giving me so little information but only suggesting putting my dog to sleep, I really need help. (I am not being biased. My dog honestly loves life even now. She would still try to steal food and cry if not allowed on the bed, spin with excitement even when her hind legs can’t support her.)

    Many THANKS for any help!



  14. april butler on June 11, 2019 at 11:57 am

    My Dachshund is now 7. at age 4 she had an episode of pain with back leg weakness , was treated conservatively with meds and crate rest and had full recovery. However 2 weeks ago she started having pain(no neurological symptoms). I started her on prednisone and pain meds, within a couple days she acted so much better. Unfortunately I felt so bad about locking her up after a week and let her out. Now she is in pain again without neurological symptoms. I have an appointment with a Vet(we just moved to a new area) tomorrow. I have ordered her a back brace which will be here tomorrow. Do you think with no neurological symptoms she requires a CT or MRI or can just be managed with meds and rest again? If needed I would find the money for it but finances is always a concern. Also I was considering finding someone who does acupuncture and/or laser therapy, would that be something I should consider?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 15, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Hi April,
      I am so very sorry for the delayed response. I hope your puppy is doing better. On the one hand, the fact that symptoms have recurred is a reason to consider tests, however, since she wasn’t strictly being rested, it is reasonable to start medications and strict rest again. If she isn’t getting better or is getting worse, then an MRI/CT and possible surgery should be considered, as we have about a 95% success rate with surgery. Again, sorry for the delay.



  15. Amy champion on June 11, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Hello from London.

    My beautiful 4 year old French bulldog is currently on day 5 of recovering grade 5 ivdd surgery. She has no deep pain sensation still. Chances have been given at 50% but I wondered in your opinion, when is it most typical for deep pain sensation to come back if it is going to come back at all? Our vet isn’t concerned yet but I just wondered if it’s typical to have come back by now? From a very worried frenchie owner.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 15, 2019 at 9:33 am

      Hi Amy,
      I am so very sorry for my delayed response. Yes, as a French bulldog with grade 5 (no deep pain perception), the chances of recovery are only about 50%. I give it a month to recover feeling. If feeling does not recover in that time, it is incredibly unlikely to come back/regain the ability to walk. Many neurologists say 2 weeks, but I have had a handful that could not feel 2 weeks after surgery that regained it by 4 weeks. Since it’s been about a month since your post, I am hopeful that she has regained feeling.



  16. Logan on July 13, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    hello, my 14 y/o yorkie presented with sudden neck/back pain, tense body, wobbly gait with back legs not being well controlled. his vet tested him thoroughly and said it is/isn’t ivdd because his spondylosis placed a big part. he has been on gabapentin and rimadyl for 6 days and has improved but he’s still wobbly and weak. he hangs his head down a lot. it’s really hard to see but he doesn’t yelp or whimper. he only licks his knees occasionally. i don’t know whether to pursue further testing given that he is already being treated with conservative methods. i want to ensure he has a great quality of life. thank you in advance for any advice!



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 15, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Hi Logan,
      Sorry your pup isn’t feeling well. Sounds like a neurological problem affecting the spinal cord of the back or neck. It’s impossible to say without examining him in person, so always err on the side of someone who is able to examine in person. The possible causes of spinal cord problems in a 14 year-old dog include a slipped disk/intervertebral disk disease, tumor, meningitis, malformation (Chiari-like malformation, etc) and infection. If he responds favorable to conservative methods, tests may not be necessary. But if he is not responding to treatment or if he gets worse, consider consultation with a neurologist and further testing. Best of luck. Dr. W



  17. Vicki on July 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    How long should prednisone be used with conservative therapy for stage 1 or 2 IVDD?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 22, 2019 at 7:28 am

      Hi Vicki,
      There is not “standardized protocol” for exactly how long to give prednisone. In general, an ‘anti-inflammatory’ dose should be used as opposed to a higher ‘immunosuppressive’ dose. Also, in general, we will gradually decrease the dose. Sometimes this will be (for example) twice a day for 3-7 days, then once a day for 3-7 days, then every other day for 3-7 doses. Again, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with regards to exactly how many days of each.



  18. Toi on July 21, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Hello.
    My 3 year old Chipoodle presented sudden pain 2 days ago when we picked her up. Yesterday, she couldn’t use her hind legs and her tail isn’t wagging. I took her to the Vet and she was diagnosed with IVDD. She is in Day 2 of strict crate confinement and meds. She isn’t peeing on her own and poo’d in her crate, which is very concerning. We adopted her less than a year ago and she previously had 2 pregnancies resulting 9 puppies.
    How soon does it normally take to see an improvement for the meds?
    Could her having 2 pregnancies and birthing 9 puppies caused this?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 22, 2019 at 7:31 am

      Hi Toi,
      Sorry this is going on. If possible, consider seeing a neurologist if she isn’t moving her legs or wagging her tail. While crate rest is an acceptable alternative, an MRI and surgery (if needed) have a much better chance of helping. With regards to how long it takes to see improvement, it varies. Some dogs respond very quickly (days) but some take longer. The biggest thing in the short terms is making sure she doesn’t get worse. That’s why you should see a neurologist and follow their recommendations. Or at the very least, have a recheck with your primary care vet within the week.



  19. Margie Olds on July 24, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    I have a four year old Frenchie who just had surgery two days for a slipped disc. The surgeon said his spinal cord did not appear to have any bruising or redness so he felt he had a good chance of recovery and use of his legs. My question and concern is that he now, two days post, has only put weight on one leg and not the other. They also did a pinch test on his back which shows feeling. Not sure what means. Should I be worried that he isn’t able to put weight on both legs yet?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 24, 2019 at 11:37 pm

      Hi Margie. It depends on the severity of his injury. If he wasn’t walking prior to surgery but is now walking (although not putting weight on one leg), that is excellent. In short, two days post surgery is not a long time. If he can feel his legs as you said, the likelihood of a successful surgery is quite high.



  20. Anonymous on July 26, 2019 at 8:19 am

    My 5 y/o cocker spaniel lost complete use of his hind legs Wednesday night. He had previously had an incident where he was yelping and slouching on his back legs about a year and a half ago and that is when we got the diagnosis of IVDD through an x-ray. The vet advised that it was not at a severe stage and he was treated with rimadyl, gabapentin, and one other medicine I am not able to remember at the moment. She did explain that it could happen again and if worse would require surgery, but that there wasn’t anything we could do for prevention. When I took my dog this week for the worse occurrence, the vet (a different individual as these were both emergency appointments at a 24/hr clinic) advised that he was at that stage of either an MRI and surgery (estimated $6,000-$7,000) or human euthanasia. He also explained that the surgery may not be successful due to the severity (grade IV or V; he didn’t test for deep tissue pain) and that the worse cases he has seen have been in cocker spaniels. I made the difficult decision to euthanize and it has been an emotional struggle. As I was sitting with my dog prior to the euthanasia, he did not seem to be in pain. He rubbed his head around on the floor and licked my face. Looking back I wonder why the doctor suggested euthanasia so quickly and if I was too quick to go along. I know that I cannot do anything to change the decision, but I feel the need for closure. I requested a call from the doctor and am waiting to hear back. In your experience are there cases of stage IV or V where the dog is not in pain?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 26, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Hi there. I’m so sorry to hear about your pet and having to make such a tough decision. It’s everyone’s nightmare. Cocker spaniels do get IVDD. Some dogs with IVDD don’t seem painful, so it is certainly possible that this was IVDD.

      It’s natural to question these sorts of things. Everyone does it. I’m sure you were making the decisions based on what was best for him with the information you had.



  21. Anonymous on July 26, 2019 at 8:21 am

    *humane



  22. Anonymous on July 27, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Thank you for your reply. It is difficult for me looking at the moments immediately before because he did not appear to be in pain. It makes me question why I made the choice I did, if he could have been happy.



  23. Tonya on July 28, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Hi I have a dauchaund who has deep tissue feeling and knows when he has to pee, but still has no control of back legs. It’s been 3 days on meds , Prednisone and tramadol and methocarbamol. No change . Should I give more time before choosing surgery?



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on July 28, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Tonya,
      It’s tough to give a good recommendation on a pet we have never examined in person before. However, a dachshund that cannot walk, but that can still feel the rear limbs is a candidate for testing to be sure it’s a slipped disk, and assuming it is a slipped disk, is a candidate for surgery.

      Without hesitation, if this were my pet, my friend’s pet, or my parents’ pet, we would have been in the MRI the day it happened and in the operating room immediately afterwards.

      Best of luck. Where are you located. Perhaps we can recommend a neurology specialist in your area.



  24. Virginia on August 11, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Hello. My sons dog became paralyzed last September and had a ruptured disc that was treated surgically. In the beginning he couldn’t move his back legs or wag his tail. Over recent months he wags his tail regularly and while dragging or in his wheelchair he moves his legs as if he’s trying to walk. When you touch his feet he pulls away. I can make him stand for about 20 seconds before he falls back down. He seems to tremor constantly. He will kick his legs a lot. He has another mylogram in a couple of weeks. Since it’s been almost a year and he has had some progress do you think there is any chance that he will walk again? He is a daschund.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on August 12, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Virginia. It depends on the severity of the original injury. Based on your description, I would wonder if he was paraplegic with absent feeling to the toes and tail. If that were the case, and if he still could not feel his rear limbs or tail, the movements of the limbs and tail may be involuntary (e.g. a reflex). If he cannot still feel his limbs, the likelihood of regaining the ability to voluntarily walk is low. What does your neurologist think?



  25. Judy on August 14, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Very long story short, gabapentin (and a LOT of tender loving care) saw my pup to a recovery after 6 long months of severe ivdd pain…neck and back this time. I was told she wouldn’t recover. I REFUSED to give up. She is now running around like crazy and is 100% herself.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on August 14, 2019 at 3:08 am

      Glad to hear, Judy! Happy for you and your pup. Yes, it can take time, but many dogs can get better with medications and rest. Thanks for you comment and your dedication to your doggy. -Dr. Wong



  26. Maria on August 17, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Hello. my 5-year-old Dachshund was reluctant to run and jump so the vet suggested that it was a problem with her disc, she was on previcox and rest for 2weeks but she started being wabbly when she was walking and falling. The vet put her on prezolon and strict crate rest for 2weeks. We are at the end of the first week and now she cant walk at all, she’s dragging her hind legs. she knows when she has to pee, she can wag her tail and she feels pain. Should I continue with meds and crate rest or is surgery needed? Is 3weeks too little to see an improvement? And why are things getting worse? Unfortunately there is no mri scan where I live.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on August 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Maria,
      Since your pup is getting worse and now cannot walk, it is certainly a reason to consider an appointment with a neurologist or surgeon. Reasons to consider MRI/surgery are dogs that can’t walk (yours), dogs that are getting worse despite rest and medications (yours), dogs that have had multiple bouts of back pain, etc. Where are you located? Are you able to travel?



  27. Melanie on September 6, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    My dachshund hurt her back about 4 years ago. With at home therapy and crate rest she got to the point where we got a wheelie. She used that for a couple months then started walking on her own but she wobbles. Here’s my question… my brothers Doxie has managed to mate accidentally unsupervised with mine and I think she is pregnant. Can she carry to term or should I get her fixed essentially aborting her pregnancy? I only consider carrying to term because she is the last of her line but I don’t want her to be in pain, possibly make her injury worse, or lose her.



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on September 9, 2019 at 10:36 am

      See your vet to see if she is indeed pregnant. From a physiological standpoint, she should be able to carry to term and give birth.



  28. Swati on October 2, 2019 at 5:49 am

    Hello from India! Great information here. It’ll be great if you could help me with this:
    My beagle is 6 years old and has had a weight problem for a while that we’ve been trying to address. He’s obese at 25 kgs.
    Three days ago, he suffered from an episode that triggered ivdd, which had most likely been coming on for a while (he had been limping on one back leg).
    Now, he can’t stand up at all and while there is deep pain sensation in his legs and he can move his tail, he is unable to move, sit up or stand up.
    He is on steroids, crate rest and laser therapy (for the last two days).
    The vet we have been to recommend that we try medicines and laser therapy before opting for surgery.
    How long does something like this take to heal, especially in an obese dog? What should our next steps be and what can we look into as options?
    Thanks so much!



    • Southeast Veterinary Neurology on October 2, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Hi Swati,
      In general, dogs that are suddenly unable to move their legs but still can feel their rear limbs have the best chance with surgery, assuming the cause is a slipped disk. I tend to recommend an MRI and surgery (again, assuming a slipped disk) for any dog that cannot walk. I do not know of any neurologists or MRI centers in India, so this may be part of your veterinarian’s recommendation to hold off on surgery.

      Rest and medications is a reasonable alternative. There is probably a 55-60% chance of regaining the ability to walk without surgery in a dog that is paraplegic with intact feeling. With surgery, the chances are more like 90-95%. It takes longer to get better without surgery, which can be weeks to months. Some dogs are faster. Some dogs can get worse (and lose feeling to their rear limbs).

      Good luck! I hope your pup gets better.



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