06 Jul Dachshunds and IVDD, what you need to know!
Did you know 1 in 4 dachshunds will experience a back problem?
Have you ever thought about what you would do if your dachshund suddenly showed signs of IVDD? Do you even know what signs to look for and what it means for both you and your dachshund? If so, you’re not alone…
If you are owned by dachshunds, it’s imperative you are educated and have an action plan in place should your dachshund ‘go down’ with IVDD.
We recommend you bookmark the following website: ivdd.org.au (aka DISA) as your go to for important facts, resources and links should you need extra support and advice.
We’ve asked our good friend Chrissy Davis, Founder of DISA to share her story and advice about IVDD because as it turns out, wrapping your Dachshund in bubble wrap is not all that practical!
What is IVDD and why is it so important for dachshund owners to be educated about it?
IVDD is Intervertebral Disc Degeneration. It is commonly referred to as intervertebral disc disease, but to be clear, it’s a genetic disorder that causes a disease process in the intervertebral discs of the spinal cord.
Over time the consistency between the discs, which is normally very watery, begins to dry out and is more or less replaced with cartilage which can lead to calcification (see image below). It’s actually the genetics of the short legs, not the long backs of dachshunds, that pre-disposes them to IVDD.
Image source: ivdd.org.au
Words such as intervertebral disc disease, IVDD, back problems and stubbornness aren’t ones that are freely handed over by someone who has carelessly bred a dachshund without ever considering the future integrity of the breed. IVDD is genetic with no current cure. If we arm ourselves with information and work together to promote careful breeding practices, this disease doesn’t need to be so insidious.
What has your experience been with IVDD and how did DISA come about?
My love affair with dachshunds started 30 years ago after watching them being judged at the Royal Melbourne Show. It was there that I met a breeder who sensed I was smitten; as I walked away she said “If you want a dog that can jump and run for miles and doesn’t break, get yourself a cattle dog but if you want a dog that will love you unconditionally and melt your heart, get a dachshund”. I never really understood what she meant until 2 years later when my love affair became a reality, but more importantly, until one of my dachshunds “broke” on the 20th June 2013.
Denton was one day past his 13th birthday when he wandered through the doggy door, yelped and stopped, motionless on the carpeted ramp on the other side. I had noticed some symptoms for 6 months or so, in fact, I had visited 2 vets and was told “He is old, he has arthritis.” I believed them because you always believe your vet right?
IVDD is a 4 letter word every dachshund owner should be aware of and the analogy, ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ resonates loud and clear. The ensuing days and weeks are now a blur but somewhere in the midst of my brain freeze I was guided and helped by some truly wonderful friends, dachshund Facebook friends and professionals.
Of course, being an A type personality, it was non-negotiable that my wing man was going to remain paralysed. So I researched, read, watched and Googled every imaginable article and video about IVDD, conservative treatment and alternative therapies. Two days after he went down we commenced regular acupuncture and physio, and somewhere in a sleep deprived (or was that wine induced?) moment I even started a Facebook Support Group! 23 days later he stood up and wobbly walked, it was worth every minute but seriously not for the faint hearted.
Even though Denton has now passed, he lives with me every day as his legacy is DISA. My dream is that one day a cure or a solution is found for this insidious disease which affects so many dachshunds and causes untold grief, both emotionally and financially, for their families.
DISA was once a small idea which has now has grown into a well recognised and respected education and support platform moderated and managed by a fantastic team. I am proud that DISA was born from a need in a sleep deprived moment, and I trust “We’ve got your back” until such time as there is no four letter word called “IVDD.”
What kind of support does DISA provide for dachshunds and their humans?
DISA is an Australia wide educational and support organisation dedicated to the future health, welfare and integrity of dachshunds and its primary focus is to spread awareness about IVDD. DISA educates and provides resources to prospective owners about the intricacies of owning a low riding sausage dog and what to do should it ever happen to yours.
Until such time as there is no longer a four letter word called IVDD, DISA with the guidance of professionals, specialists and peers will be there to provide non-judgemental support, guidance and advice to ensure that you are armed to make well informed decisions regarding the care and/or treatment of your dachshund. As always, “We’ve got your back.”
What would need to happen in order to eradicate IVDD altogether?
At this point in time the only way to reduce the incidence of IVDD is by X-Ray screening and scoring on dachshunds between 24-48 months of age. The aim of X-ray screening for IVDD is to reduce the occurrence of herniations which means encouraging breeders to only breed with dogs that have low numbers of calcifications.
Not everyone understands what it’s like to watch your fur child become paralysed, and the toll it takes on families, both emotionally and financially. It’s truly heartbreaking. But if we are better educated about it we can act quickly to help the recovery process.
IVDD is not a death sentence. Depending on the circumstances your dachshund can go on to live a long and happy life. Be aware of the signs to look for and talk to your Vet for guidance.
Without a magic formula to eradicate this disease overnight the best thing you can do for now is to be prepared should the unthinkable happen. Download our action plan and keep it on your fridge so in that brain freeze moment you know what to do.
What can we do to prevent an IVDD episode ever occurring?
Whilst there is no known cure for IVDD, there are a few lifestyle and preventative measures you can take to help reduce the risk as well as some signs to looks for that will require you to get checked out by your vet. A full list of preventative measures can be found on the website but here’s a quick summary:
- Maintain a healthy weight for your dachshund
- Healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Avoid jumping & high impact movements.
Remember IVDD is not a death sentence. Depending on the circumstances your dachshund can go on to live a long and happy life (just look at how happy Frank is in his wheels below!). We urge you to visit ivdd.org.au today for loads more information.
Before you go, download your own IVDD Action Plan to stick on your fridge to be prepared for that ‘just in case’ moment.IVDD Action Plan Download