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IVDD In Dogs: What you need to know!

Dachshund in a wheelchair due to IVDD in dogs

Have you ever noticed your dog suddenly have problems walking? While this can be very scary there are many reasons that your dog has suddenly started walking differently. A back disease is one of the most common reasons that small dogs will suddenly start to have trouble walking. If you notice any of these problems, take your dog to your veterinarian immediately for medical care. There are many things that can be done to help your dog walk better but the sooner you start treating your dog the quicker and easier the recovery.

What is IVDD (​Intervertebral Disc Disease)

IVDD stands for Intervertebral Disc Disease. The disc between the vertebrae can collapse after excessive compression or trauma. This compression causes pressure on the spinal cord at the spot of the collapse. This will lead to nerve damage and can cause severe pain. The extent of the damage depends on how long the compression has been there, and what caused the compression. Without medical attention, paralysis may develop. Usually affecting the lower limbs and even the urinary bladder.

What does IVDD in dogs do?

Immobile Shetland sheepdog in a stroller on a bike

IVDD in dogs causes pressure on the spinal cord. There are nerves that come from the spinal cord that cause the legs and internal organs to function the proper way. When the spinal cord is compressed everything from behind this compression does not work properly. This is why we most commonly see dogs with IVDD dragging their back legs and having trouble controlling their bladder. Dogs in this stage typically do not experience pain as all the nerves are shut off.

What can cause IVDD in dogs?

IVDD can be caused by a number of different things. Usually, it is caused by some sort of trauma to the back. This may not necessarily need to be forceful trauma. Jumping on or off the couch or bed and landing wrong can cause this. If your pup is running after a bird in the back yard and trips it can cause this. Accidents happen but some breeds actually are more susceptible to IVDD than others.

What dog breeds are susceptible to this?

Pug in a costume and a wheelchair die to IVDD

The most common breed that is seen with IVDD is a dachshund. Any dog with long back and short legs are very prone to this disease. These breeds include basset hound and corgis. There are also some dogs that are prone to other genetic back problems that can lead to IVDD. French Bulldogs are known for abnormally developed vertebra that can cause IVDD.

What are the symptoms to look for?

The most common signs of IVDD are abnormal gait and dragging their back legs. You will notice your dog is walking around like they are drunk. They may be dragging one or even both legs behind them. This is classic signs of IVDD. Usually, the signs come with a history of sudden weakness and some kind of trauma.


paralyzed boxer with a dog wheelchair on the beech

There are many different ways to treat IVDD in dogs. There are surgical procedures that can be done, medication on rest and supplements that can be given. A new procedure which utilizes a harmonic laser that increases healthy antibodies to reduce inflammation which can result in a faster recovery.


Sometimes the back injury is so severe that your dog will need a tricky spinal repair surgery. In this procedure, the material that is pushing on the spinal cord will be removed instantly relieving the pain and inflammation on the spinal cord. There is a high level of success with this treatment but surgery must be performed as soon as possible from the time of trauma. The more quickly surgery takes place the higher the rate of success resulting in the pet walking again.


More conservative treatment is medication and cage rest. Depending on the severity of the disease your dog may be given Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs), Steroids, Muscle relaxers or pain medication. Sometimes they get a combination of these medications.


CBD or Cannabidiol is derived from the hemp plant. Studies show that CBD can help with pain and inflammation. This is a great supplement to give your dog who suffers from IVDD or to help them with the pain after surgery.

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Not only can Turmeric be used to cook a yummy meal, but also it can help decrease inflammation. If your dog suffers from inflammation and pain from IVDD giving them turmeric on a daily basis will help decrease the inflammation.

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Preventative measures

There are many ways you can prevent this disease. IVDD is seen more in dogs that are overweight. It is also seen in dogs of certain breeds. If you have one of these dogs making sure to keep them lean and fit will lessen the chance of trauma to the spinal cord.

Jumping on and off the bed is a common cause of IVDD. Use doggie steps or a ramp for your dog to use to get on and off the bed. You can also train your dog to not jump on or off furniture and wait for you to help them get where they want to go.

Even with the best care and making sure your pet isn't overweight things just seem to happen. Accidents, like slipping, tripping, or just not paying attention, have nothing to do with how well you've cared for them. It's important to know that injuries happen but the faster you recognize something abnormal is happening the better the chances are that your loved one will walk again. So if you care for a breed that happens to be more susceptible to back injury just be sure to take as many preventive measures as you can. Sometimes things just happen but there are options available that can help you give your canine pal a great quality of life for years to come.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM


Since she was a little girl, Dr. Ochoa knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals, she is now a great source of knowledge for others. Dr. Ochoa lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies: Ruby the Schnoodle and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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