So you've just gotten home from the Vet with an IVDD diagnosis. Hearing your furry family member has a degenerative disease can be extremely overwhelming and wading through the different treatment options and costs mind numbing. Hopefully this is a short and sweet resource on what intervertebral disk disease is and the treatment options!
Intervertebral Disk Disease
Intervertebral Disk Disease or IVDD is the compression of the spinal cord due to the degeneration and protrusion of the intervertebral disks. The intervertebral disks are the cushions between the vertebrae that allow movement, are supportive and act as shock absorbers. When these cushions break down it makes the vertebrae much more likely to herniate causing pain and leading to paralysis.
Common Breeds Affected
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepard
- Doberman Pinscher
- Shih Tzu
- Lhasa Apso
How to Treat IVDD
Surgical intervention is not 100% proven to help dog's with IVDD so conservative treatment is often recommended. Crate rest will be EXTREMELY important with any spinal injury. While your dog is on crate rest, a back support girdle or orthopedic back brace will help stabilize your dog's spine when they have to go out to the bathroom.
Physical therapy is great to keep your pup mobile and hydrotherapy will allow your pup to exercise and build muscle around their spine while the buoyancy of the water will keep their body weight from doing more damage.
Laser therapy can help with pain management and decreases inflammation in order to keep your dog mobile!
Finally, a dog wheelchair will help support your dog's hind legs to keep pressure off of the spine or if the IVDD progresses to full paralysis.
Disk fenestration is used to treat Type I of IVDD. In fenestration surgery the neuro surgeon will remove the material in the center of the vertebral disc to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. Fenestration is a relatively quick and easy surgery but is not recommended for severe disk herniation.
On more severe cases of IVDD, your vet may recommend hemilaminectomy surgery. Hemilaminectomy surgery involves removing part of one of the two laiminae on a vertebra to relieve excess pressure on the spinal nerve(s) in the lumbar spine, or lower back.
Surgical intervention for IVDD (or any surgery for that matter) is not inexpensive. If you have a breed that is prone to develop IVDD looking into pet insurance or even a pet savings account is extremely beneficial, IVDD surgery can run from $3,000-$8,000 depending on where you are located and which surgery your dog needs.
Post Surgical care for both types of IVDD surgery will look a lot like conservative management, your dog will be on strict crate rest for 6-8 weeks and your vet will likely recommend physical therapy and spine or back stabilizer like the vertebraVe.