IVDD Awareness Month!

IVDD Awareness Month!

It’s July which means it is also IVDD awareness month. IVDD is short for Intervertebral Disc Disease. Ironically enough, my Maltipoo Taco fell paralyzed with this disease last July. I had no prior knowledge of this disease, I had never heard of anything like it nor had my vet ever mentioned possible prevention to me.

Tacos story

In the days leading up to this scary incident, Taco had been sitting on the sofa and not wanting to do much activity which was highly abnormal. Her eating and drinking were fine and I chalked it up to be nothing more than just a belly ache. Two days later I noticed her being extra needy and then shaking profoundly. After realizing the shaking was most likely due to pain, I got up and dressed for a 2 am veterinarian visit. After this was a terrifying scene. As I placed Taco on the floor I noticed her back legs completely limp as she used her front paws to drag herself. Knowing absolutely nothing about IVDD, it still did not register to me that she was paralyzed. I took her to a late-night vet that was open nearby where she was diagnosed with IVDD. This vet proscribed her painkillers along with other medications and told me the only way she would heal is by crate resting her and keeping her drugged up for 4-8 weeks in a tiny airline-sized kennel. I was in shock. This healing method really didn’t sit right with me and by 9 am I decided to take her to the Las Vegas Neurology Center for dogs. Taco’s MRI told us she had a slipped disc that was sitting on her spine and if the surgeon could remove these pieces of disc asap, then she had a high chance of walking again since we caught it so early. The surgery totaled a steep $8,000. This is when I learned just how important dog insurance is. (Seriously, invest in pet insurance). Taco’s surgery was successful! With at-home physical therapy taught to me by the staff at the hospital Taco was able to walk again around 3 weeks post-op. Fast forward to today, a whole year later and she is walking great. We have adapted to a low-impact lifestyle which is at times still a struggle since she is a very free-spirited dog. Her back legs appear as a “drunk walk” sometimes but that’s normal. This is one of the hardest things emotionally I’ve been through and the lifestyle change is a forever adjustment. If I had awareness of IVDD early on then this could have been prevented. So for July and every other month, I want to spread awareness for dog owners about this tragic disease and how they can prevent, heal, and live with IVDD.

Signs to look out for/Prevention

There are particular breeds that are more prone to developing IVDD in their lifespan. It’s all about body shapes, the long spine, and short-leg cuties.

  1. Dachshund
  2. French Bulldog
  3. Corgi
  4. Basset Hound
  5. Beagle
  6. Shih Tzu
  7. Pekingese
  8. Miniature Poodle
  9. Miniature Schnauzer
  10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Having any of these breeds doesn’t mean they will necessarily develop the condition. Proper care, exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups can help mitigate the risk and catch potential issues early on. As impossible as it is to keep a puppy or energetic dog calm, the best advice I can give would be to monitor the “zoomies”, and make sure they’re not parkouring off furniture or falling/sliding into corners. Repetitive compression of the spine will cause a disc to slip over time. Ramps for your sofa or bed are lifesavers! Avoid letting your dog using stairs.

Post IVDD Diagnosis

While surgery is the best option for your dog, it isn’t always realistic. I was fortunate enough to provide Taco with her surgery right away. IVDD surgery is done by a neurologist (locate your nearest one) and costs anywhere from $6-$12,000. This is why pet insurance is SO important. Whether you opt for surgery or take the “conservative route” it is a huge emotional challenge for owners. Every day is a lot of work and very time-consuming. It pulls on your heartstrings heavily, not to mention fear and anxiety. It’s essential to take care of yourself just as much as your pup during this time. Your dog will feel calmer if you aren’t breaking down in front of them daily. (This was a challenge for me in the beginning). Luckily there are tons of IVDD Facebook support groups with families going through the exact same thing. Lots of great Youtube videos from the top neurology center in Miami. The Rehab Vet’s blog helped me so much when it came to sling walking, physical therapy, and crate rest. Vet rehabs with an underwater treadmill are great for recovery. I bought a life jacket and let Taco do swimming motions which helped her regain movement motions in her legs. Toys like treat puzzles keep them entertained and avoid crate depression. The stroller was such a great buy so she was able to get some fresh air aside from her mandatory 5 minute sling walks. Peanut butter and cheese makes giving your pup all their medications so easy!

While adapting to a new “low impact” lifestyle for your dog and getting them back to health post-IVDD is nothing easily achieved I just want to share that there is hope on this difficult journey and your dog will eventually live a more independent life, just keep your chin up and don’t give up hope.

It’s been a whole year later that I finally get to share Taco’s story. I hope this can help anyone else who needs it. I didn’t get to document her progress as much as I wanted since my hands were FULL. Here are a few photos of her journey along with some products that helped us adapt and cope with IVDD.

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