Spinal surgery to treat your dog’s slipped disc sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? From the surgery to the concerns about aftercare, we understand why you wouldn’t want to put your pet through that. Your Dachshund’s slipped disc home treatment is necessary, regardless of whether your dog has undergone surgery. But how do you provide home care?
When the slipped disc compresses the spinal cord, it results in pain. Based on this, the at-home treatment uses a mix of rest, medications, and physical therapy to prevent and alleviate the compression of your Dachshund’s spine.
However, the severity of your dog’s condition and a number of other factors determine the available home treatments. This article will walk you through the primary aspects of a slipped disc’s diagnosis, recovery, and prevention.
Background of IVDD in Dachshunds
In 1883, a Dachshund was diagnosed with the first case of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
Dachshunds soon became the most notorious dog breed for IVDD, with a 10 to 12 times higher disease risk.
Approximately 1 in every 4 Dachshunds is affected by IVDD in a lifetime. Although it can happen at any age, dogs between the ages of four and six are more prone to experience it.
By this point, you may be wondering: why are Dachshunds more susceptible to IVDD than other dog breeds?
A Dachshund’s genetic mutation and shape are two key causes of IVDD. Even though IVDD is influenced by aging or external incidents, the dog’s genes are far more significant. Some dogs may be born with a herniated disc, while others can develop one as early as 12 to 18 months of age.
Due to their shared ancestors’ traits, purebred dogs—also known as dogs of a single breed—are more likely to develop genetic disorders than other dogs.
Dachshunds are short-legged and have long backs, making them part of the chondrodystrophic breeds. Due to their appearance of short legs, they have weaker muscles than other dog breeds, which puts additional pressure on their spine.
In short, Dachshunds develop disc degeneration sooner than other breeds of normal-legged dogs due to their size and limb abnormalities brought on by genetic mutation or recessive genes.
Signs and Symptoms of a Slipped Disc in Dachshunds
The symptoms of a slipped disc in Dachshunds can range from slight neck or spinal pain to complete paralysis. Although it can be difficult to tell if your pet has a herniated disc, you can detect your little one is in pain by looking for a few initial signs.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of IVDD:
- Reluctance to jump or climb
- Anxious behavior
- Hunched back
- Having trouble walking or wobbling
- Loss of feeling in toes
- Turning the paws upside-down
What Should I Do if My Dachshund Shows Symptoms of IVDD?
If your Dachshund shows any of the symptoms listed above, limit their activity immediately and take them to a veterinary neurologist. Although you can treat a slipped disc naturally at home, the condition cannot be diagnosed without a specialist.
A veterinary neurologist will identify the affected disc through physical and neurological exams of your Dachshund. The veterinarian may perform MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT scan (computed tomography scan) to get a more precise diagnosis regarding the presence and state of the slipped disc.
X-ray exams for IVDD have been used for decades in countries like Finland and Norway, but they are becoming less popular worldwide. Radiographs don’t provide a complete analysis, as soft tissue changes are not visible on them.
How Do I Evaluate My Dachshund’s IVDD Stage?
When a Dachshund has a herniated disc, veterinarians grade the condition on a scale of 1 to 5. Depending on the dog’s clinical grade, the veterinarian will determine whether they can manage the animal’s herniated disc naturally or if surgery is required.
To understand the grading system, check out the table below:
|Clinical Grade||Symptoms||Surgical Treatment Is Required|
|1||Pain without any neurologic deficits|
|2||Struggle with paw placement |
Aggressive behavior and severe pain
|3||Inability to walk (Partial paralysis)|
Need assistance to stand
|4||Inability to walk|
Paralyzed but can feel its toes
Decreased or loss of bladder control
|Depends (should have surgery, but a small percentage can heal without it)|
Loss of sensation in toes
Can a Slipped Disc in a Dachshund Heal Itself?
No, your Dachshund will require some kind of medication to control the pain. The initial three stages of a herniated disc do not require surgery, but dogs still need painkillers and conservative treatment.
Although Dachshunds can still walk normally in the early stages of IVDD, they continue to have mild neck and back pain. It is a signal to start crate rest and other conservative treatments. So, instead of waiting for a slipped disc to recover on its own, it’s better to act now.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for IVDD
Any type of non-surgical treatment for a slipped disc is considered conservative treatment, including drugs and physical therapy. It is best for dogs experiencing their first slipped disc or those with only mild spinal cord compression.
However, conservative treatment will not help your dog if he is paralyzed and has IVDD clinical grade 5.
We have researched and explained the top non-surgical treatment solutions for your Dachshund to help you through this challenging time.
Strict Crate Rest for a Few Weeks
Here’s the truth, getting enough rest is the most crucial step in recovering from a slipped disc. Since a slipped disc primarily affects your dog’s mobility, strict rest and limited activity are required to prevent the condition from worsening.
Depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, veterinarians advise crate or cage rest for a minimum of four weeks and up to eight weeks. During this period, your dog’s body will repair the herniated disc on its own.
Even dogs diagnosed with clinical grades 3 and 4 can recover fully or to a certain extent from a herniated disc through crate rest.
However, confining an active dog to a cage can be difficult, let alone a high-energy breed like Dachshunds. Dog owners generally admit their pets to a veterinary hospital to provide safe indoor recovery space and nursing care, but this is not the most affordable solution.
Veterinarians recommend specific drugs for home treatment that reduce the animals’ activity and enable them to sleep more easily. This point brings us to the second non-surgical method we’ll discuss—medications.
Your dog will need to take different medications to recuperate during the course of treatment. Veterinarians prescribe anti-inflammatory medications—either steroid or non-steroidal—to relieve pain and swelling.
The medications used to treat a slipped disc in dogs are similar to those given to humans, mostly belonging to the class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, you must not give your dog aspirin and ibuprofen, as they can cause organ damage in animals.
Medications are only effective when combined with crate rest, so you can use sedatives and anxiety-relieving medicines to calm an active dog.
Your dog may also need muscle relaxants because IVDD is known to cause muscle spasms, but you should only use a drug recommended by a licensed veterinarian.
Asides from medication, you can try giving your little one supplements of turmeric and omega-3s to reduce inflammation. Though they might lessen the effects of allopathic medications, and may not work for all dogs.
Physical therapy is a highly effective slipped disc treatment because it may stimulate sensory input, reduce pain and spasm, and reduce swelling. Depending on your dog’s condition, it can also involve physical therapy sessions with a specialist and exercises you can do at home.
There are many different exercises, including strength training and standing exercises, but there isn’t one exercise that is specifically designed for IVDD.
It’s alright if your dog can’t perform some exercises because of swelling and inflammation. You must have the following mindset when it comes to physical therapy for dogs:
“If it helps, use it. If it hurts, choose another therapy.”
The veterinarian will examine your dog and will then suggest the appropriate exercises. If the dog is in the early stages of IVDD, at-home exercises should be enough instead of calling a rehabilitation specialist.
Let’s talk about some common physical therapy treatments that can benefit your dog.
A therapeutic massage can heal your little one’s neurological and mechanical issues. A properly performed massage releases specific neurochemicals that help to alleviate inflammation, muscle spasms, and swelling.
The rehabilitation and treatment phases of IVDD both benefit greatly from massages. They increase circulation throughout the body, nourishing the cells and encouraging a speedy recovery.
Human and animal massage techniques are very similar. The following are a few effective massage methods for a slipped disc:
- Flat hand massage
- Cross fiber massage
- Tapotement massage
- Link by link
- Side-to-side stretches
You should start by stroking your dog slowly while they’re lying on the belly—just to make the pooch relax. The direction should go from the head to the back, then to the toes. Once your pet is at ease, you can start performing the recommended massage technique.
However, you must be extra careful with your dog and avoid pressing the herniated disc during the massage. If your pet yelps, remember not to massage that spot again.
Veterinary medicine has used laser therapy since the 2000s, but in recent years, cold laser therapy has gained popularity.
The idea of laser therapy could be a little frightening to some dog owners. Since it’s “cold” laser therapy, it cannot burn your dog’s skin. The precise wavelength of a laser depends on the dog’s condition, but it is always within a range that doesn’t damage their tissue.
Cold laser therapy can reduce pain, reduce swelling, and increase circulation. But here’s the best part: it releases endorphins that are the body’s natural pain relievers.
In addition to treatment, University of Florida veterinarians have reported that dogs who choose cold laser therapy recover a full week sooner after initial surgery than those who do not.
Although laser therapy is beneficial, it can be extremely costly.
Supportive and Dietary Care
During the treatment period, you must eliminate anything that can cause stress on your dog’s back and neck. Dogs can experience more pressure on their backbone by bending or bearing extra weight.
You can place their food and water on elevated surfaces to prevent them from bending. Keep the crate or cage where your dog rests raised, so they won’t have to lift their heads to look at you.
Your dog’s lack of movement from crate rest increases the risk that they may become overweight. You must keep your dog at a healthy weight and refrain from overfeeding.
To prevent further harm, handle them with the utmost care possible while picking them up or setting them down.
- Don’t pull your dog towards you when taking them out of the cage.
- Lift your dog evenly and keep their spine aligned.
- If a lifting harness is required, be sure it can keep your dog’s backbone and rear legs aligned evenly.
Do Back Braces Help Dogs With IVDD?
Yes, back braces support and straighten your dog’s spine as they move. It is crucial during the recovery process since your dog may want to resume walking.
A solid back brace supports your dog’s backbone and surrounding muscles at all times, which helps to alleviate pain. However, it’s crucial to select the right back brace.
Make sure the back brace you select for your dog is made for IVDD and can tackle any of the specific symptoms the dog may be experiencing. It should be easy to use and comfortable for your pet.
Signs of Recovery of IVDD
According to a study, dogs typically recover in 16 days and can require 40 days of physical therapy. You may determine if your dog is healing from a slipped disc during the recovery period by checking for a few signs.
A herniated disc often prevents dachshunds from even switching sides, so any painless movement is a major sign of progress. There is good news, especially if you observe voluntary leg movement—typically starting at the top of the leg.
For example, let’s say that during treatment, your dog has been lying on his side for a few days. Your dog is healing if he shifts to his back at any point.
Unfortunately, Dachshunds with slipped discs find it tough to even lick themselves. When your dog starts grooming again, they are trying to return to a normal lifestyle gradually.
If a Dachshund becomes restless due to lying down all day, it could mean that they’re ready to start moving again. Since this breed tends to be an active one, worried behavior may indicate that your dog wants to engage in pre-slipped disc activities—remember to be careful, though.
Being Able to Stand
Dachshunds can usually hold the “stand” position with assistance when this recovery process begins. Your dog will eventually be able to stand for long periods with less support.
The last indication that things are improving is when your dog can stand up by himself without any support.
The Post-Recovery Period
According to experts, after recovering from IVDD, a dog has a 10-20% chance of suffering another disc rupture in a lifetime.
Even after the recovery period, it is critical to handle your pet with the greatest care. We have a few suggestions to help you make this time easier for your little one.
- Use Pet Safety Gates. Baby gates are an alternative to crate rest. As your dog will be out of crate rest after recovery, you can use baby gates to still restrict their activity. It can prevent dogs from running around the house and being crazy, as it stops them from entering another room.
- Use Ramps for Furniture. Dachshunds can get easily frustrated when taking small steps, so they tend to jump in between—especially when jumping on or off furniture. Jumping exerts pressure on your dog’s spine, increasing the risk of a slipped disc. Therefore, a dog ramp can provide a safer living environment for your pup.
- Carry Your Dachshund on Stairs. Dachshunds generally struggle with stairs, as their spine has to move inwards to jump from one stair to another. Thus, it can cause further damage to your dog’s spine—especially if they have suffered from IVDD.
- Buy a Harness Collar. A harness is a piece of clothing wrapped around the dog’s torso. It is used to evenly distribute pressure in your dog’s body to avoid sudden stresses on their fragile neck or backbone. However, make sure you choose the perfect harness size for your dog because a poor-fitting harness can be detrimental to your dog’s health.
- Buy a Car Safety Seat. A proper-sized dog seat can protect your dog from injuries even when you’re on a bumpy road or need to apply brakes abruptly. Dachshunds can get anxious in cars, so a car seat will keep them from jumping in the car while also making them feel comfortable and secure.
- Provide a Loving Environment. Your pup’s herniated disc causes them just as much anxiety as it does for you. Dogs can get stressed easily, which is known to make recovery more difficult for humans and animals. During this time, ensure your dog receives a lot of support, love, and comfort. Use pats and gentle touches to build a connection with them.
Things to Avoid
Here, there is just one thing to remember: Stay away from everything that could worsen your dog’s slipped disc injury. Here are a few things you must avoid.
- Jumping or Climbing – Your Dachshund’s back is still weak despite the recovery. It is risky for your dog to jump or climb up and down stairs.
- Physically Challenging Games – Certain games, such as tug-of-war, particularly put pressure on your dog’s neck and spine. A short break from their favorite games is important for your pup’s well-being.
- Fast Running – Even when walking after recovery, dogs should proceed carefully—so let’s forget about running for the time being. Fast running can be a nightmare for your dog’s healing back.
- Being Outside Unsupervised – Your dog will eventually be able to move around without your help. You must still keep an eye on them, though, as they cannot remain careful on their own. Due to their hyperactive nature, your Dachshund can go for a carefree walk if left unattended.
- Excessive Activity – Always walk slowly, very slowly, and while they are wearing a harness. If you notice that your dog is tired, stop immediately and take a break.
How to Prevent Slipped Disc in Dachshunds?
Weight management is the key component in preventing a slipped disc. Giving your dog healthy dry dog food—and fewer treats—is the ideal way to control their weight.
Exercise shouldn’t only be a part of the healing process. After recovery, continue to involve your dog in regular, moderate exercise—it’s ideal to create a routine for your pup. You can speak with a veterinarian to seek guidance on the exercises your dog can perform to avoid obesity.
A study found that leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of IVDD in Dachshunds.
Some lifestyle changes, including the use of an osteopathic bed, ramps, a stroller, and non-slip mats, can help with prevention.
Approximately 19–24% of Dachshunds display clinical IVDD symptoms during their lifetime. This breed is more susceptible to developing backbone problems because of their genetics and physical build.
It is possible to treat your dog at home if IVDD is still in its early stages. Now that you have read the article, you must have an idea about your Dachshund’s slipped disc home treatment options.
However, before beginning any treatment, you should always talk to a veterinarian about your pet’s condition.
Should you walk a Dachshund with IVDD?
While a gentle walk is beneficial during rehabilitation, paralyzed dogs or those who are struggling with their mobility cannot walk.
Does IVDD come on suddenly?
The symptoms may appear suddenly or gradually, depending on whether the condition is hereditary or caused by an incident.
Can a Dachshund live a long life with IVDD?
Dachshunds with a herniated disc have the same life expectancy as any other dog.