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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Charlie started acting weird today- yelping when he moved suddenly and then being all shaky and upset, which has happened before when he was in pain (like his first arthritis flare up last year). I checked him all over and felt a bump right next to his spine that I’d never noticed before, so we decided we should take him to the urgent care vet. We just got a call from the vet, who said that that for small dogs intervertebral disk disease can be fairly common, and that’s what they think it is. They’re doing an x-ray to be sure that’s what it is (he said he’s 95% certain, but tumors can feel very similar) and will give him pain meds and a muscle relaxant. We’ll need to severely restrict movement for at least 2 weeks (no jumping, carrying him up and down the 4 stairs down to ground level, and only enough walking to do his business a couple times a day). He said there are some good long term options we can consider like acupuncture. I feel terrible that my baby is in so much pain, and hate to think that this could potentially get worse. And that we might have to restrict activities he loves, like running on the beach?

Do any of you have experience with this and have suggestions for what’s worked well to help them in the short or long term? Thanks for any guidance you may have!
 

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So sorry this is a possibility for Charlie and his is feeling sore😞. I’m afraid I have no experience with this but am hopeful someone else will be able to offer you some advice. Xx
 

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Charlie started acting weird today- yelping when he moved suddenly and then being all shaky and upset, which has happened before when he was in pain (like his first arthritis flare up last year). I checked him all over and felt a bump right next to his spine that I’d never noticed before, so we decided we should take him to the urgent care vet. We just got a call from the vet, who said that that for small dogs intervertebral disk disease can be fairly common, and that’s what they think it is. They’re doing an x-ray to be sure that’s what it is (he said he’s 95% certain, but tumors can feel very similar) and will give him pain meds and a muscle relaxant. We’ll need to severely restrict movement for at least 2 weeks (no jumping, carrying him up and down the 4 stairs down to ground level, and only enough walking to do his business a couple times a day). He said there are some good long term options we can consider like acupuncture. I feel terrible that my baby is in so much pain, and hate to think that this could potentially get worse. And that we might have to restrict activities he loves, like running on the beach?

Do any of you have experience with this and have suggestions for what’s worked well to help them in the short or long term? Thanks for any guidance you may have!
Mudpuppymama has experience with this, and has been able to keep her dog healthy and pain-free since it crpped up with careful measures! I’m sure she will chime in. If not, PM her!
 
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I’m sorry he’s hurting!


The diagnosis we got when Sundance was injured was pretty vague and not the same as yours but the vet thought it was related to his back or spine. He indicated Sundance would self limit and prescribed anti inflammatory meds, but he only self limited to a degree. As soon as Sundance started to feel better he would run down the hall and immediately start hurting, which sounds pretty universal for most Havanese and most injuries. It took some time and creativity to figure out how to manage it but it was so much easier than what I’ve heard of dogs that need crate rest or surgery.

I blocked off the stairs for a while but I didn’t need to be really careful about it because he got the message and waited to be carried up. Blocking off the long hall where he loves to run and play made the biggest difference, because it was too much of a temptation. But we had to make up for it by finding other ways to play. When he started feeling better we had playtime on our bed where it was easier to control the type of play and limit jumping and running. I think he saw it as an interesting new way to play, and since the old way hurt, he was perfectly happy with it. Small adjustments like an ottoman blocking a sofa as a step can really to help to prevent jumping.

As long as the pain is managed, I think it’s more of an adjustment for us. Sundance didn’t seem to feel deprived, but I really tried to plan ahead and set up our house so that I didn’t have to stop him or say “no,” and I tried to find ways to engage him that were less physical.

As far as long term recovery and preventing a recurring injury (I think it’s common with your diagnosis) you might need to look into more permanent ways to prevent him from jumping on and off of high furniture, stairs, and other higher risk activities. Mudpuppymana knows a lot about all of that. As far as running on the beach specifically, I’m not sure about that one because some humans can’t run on the beach. But it seems like once he recovers you could find a way to change the way you play with him on the beach, either to limit how far or the type of beach surface he runs on, or carrying him to a smaller area where you can play or train with him instead, or taking him to the beach if he already ran around on a stable surface and is tired. If you think you will need to limit running altogether, I would look into training programs and classes, because being able to engage with him in other ways and giving him a fun activity for you to do together could make it a lot easier to limit running.
 

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Charlie started acting weird today- yelping when he moved suddenly and then being all shaky and upset, which has happened before when he was in pain (like his first arthritis flare up last year). I checked him all over and felt a bump right next to his spine that I’d never noticed before, so we decided we should take him to the urgent care vet. We just got a call from the vet, who said that that for small dogs intervertebral disk disease can be fairly common, and that’s what they think it is. They’re doing an x-ray to be sure that’s what it is (he said he’s 95% certain, but tumors can feel very similar) and will give him pain meds and a muscle relaxant. We’ll need to severely restrict movement for at least 2 weeks (no jumping, carrying him up and down the 4 stairs down to ground level, and only enough walking to do his business a couple times a day). He said there are some good long term options we can consider like acupuncture. I feel terrible that my baby is in so much pain, and hate to think that this could potentially get worse. And that we might have to restrict activities he loves, like running on the beach?

Do any of you have experience with this and have suggestions for what’s worked well to help them in the short or long term? Thanks for any guidance you may have!
Per Karen, I am chiming in! Mia had an IVDD episode at age seven. There is a great support group with a forum at Dodgerslist.com that I highly recommend you join. This list was started by someone who had a Dachshund with IVDD and this group has saved probably thousands of dogs. They have great information out there. With Mia, we did strict crate rest for 8 weeks, carrying her out to go potty and keeping the potty sniffing to a minimum. She was on NSAIDs for a couple weeks. They say it takes up to 8 weeks for a disc to fully heal. It may take less time if not as severe. However, the key thing is...every move they make can be dangerous until the disc is fully healed. What happens is that some of the substance in the disc comes out and this puts pressure on the spinal cord. It will eventually be absorbed by the body and heal over. However, until then movement can cause damage to the spinal cord.

Your dog absolutely must not jump on and off furniture or do stairs now or ever again. Once they have a disc problem, it tends to happen again. With Mia I have been very strict and she has never done stairs or jumped on and off furniture since her episode. And...she has never had another episode. She runs, plays and digs...no problem. But absolutely no furniture jumping or stairs. I have seen this time again where people do not restrict their dogs and they have another episode. And I know you know how scary this is and do not want it to happen again. So please restrict your dog.

Good news is that following this conservative protocol and restricting the jumping and stairs, most dogs fully recover and lead long happy lives. It is NOT advisable to do any chiropractic or acupuncture or anything else like that until after the strict crate period. Chiropractic could actually cause further damage at this point.

Although some dogs do require surgery, most do well with the conservative approach. However, should your dog worsen and you see him staggering, this could mean he is starting to become paralyzed and a surgery must be performed within 24 hours to prevent permanent paralysis. This is more rare but does happen and you need to be aware of this. Dodgerslist.com has details on this.

I am so sorry for you. It is such a scary experience. I wish you the very best.
 

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Just wanted to add...after recovery, exercise is great as long as it does not involve jumping or stairs! Exercise is good. I do not see where running would be a problem at all. However, I would start with walking and work your way up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you so much all of you, especially @mudpuppymama! Super helpful to hear the level of restriction you did at first with Mia, and such a relief to hear you’ve been able to avoid any further issues. I’m going to check out the resource you shared right now— seems like it will be incredibly helpful as we figure out how to navigate this with Charlie.

We still don’t have a 100% confirmed diagnosis as we’re waiting for the X-rays to come back, and which point we’ll follow up with his regular vet too. For now, he’s begrudgingly crated (he slept in a crate every night for the first 2 years of his life, but he never liked being in there when there was anything going on or we were out of the house. I think I may try setting up an x-pen small (so it similarly restricts him, as he didn’t fuss about this set up as much as the enclosed crate when he was little.

@EvaE1izabeth that’s definitely the challenge we’re having— clearly the pain meds are working, which is great, but he doesn’t understand why we’re restricting him. He’ll catch on quickly, and has already taken to getting picked up to come back inside after potty breaks. He does his thing, then turns around to face toward our house and looks at me like ‘ok you are permitted to carry me.’ 🤣 Did any of you use a sling or stroller for the recovery period? Trying to think about safe ways to keep him happy and stimulated during this initial period in particular.

Thank you all again for the well wishes and support... will let you know what we hear from the vet!
 

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...I think I may try setting up an x-pen small (so it similarly restricts him, as he didn’t fuss about this set up as much as the enclosed crate when he was little.
...
Perry does not have this diagnosis, but depending on how he needs to be restricted, I'd be careful with an expen - I know when Perry has been on restriction we couldn't do an expen (or even spend too much time just on the floor of the house) because Perry spends a lot of time jumping around on his back legs, which I imagine would NOT be good for a potential back / vertebrae injury. I'd check with your vet (or that special forum) before allowing that if he jumps around like that as well. (If he prefers to keep all 4 feet on the ground then you're probably ok :) )
 

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An expen can be a dangerous place for an IVDD dog because getting up on the hind legs or jumping on the hind legs is terrible for the spine! The recovery suite needs to be a place where the dog has just enough room to stand up and turn around. I was extremely lucky because Mia loves her crate. However, there are ways to make the crate more appealing. Here are some suggestions...

1. Use a wire crate which is more open so the dog feels more a part of what is going on.
2. Put the crate on sliders or wheels so the dog can be moved around and be where the action is.
3. Make sure there is a nice mattress in there. Mia also likes a blanket in her crate.

As far as meds, the most important med is typically prednisone or an NSAID. This is because these help to get the inflammation down. Sometimes they also give pain meds in addition. Initially, Mia got a shot of morphine I believe. After that, Mia did well with just the NSAID because once the inflammation goes down, the pain starts to go away. I am not a fan of prednisone and prefer the NSAIDs which are the lesser of two evils IMO. If Charlie is getting too rambunctious then maybe he no longer needs the pain med but he would still need the NSAID. Dodgerslist is helpful about what meds are typically used. Also some vets are not too knowledgeable about IVDD although I think more and more are. So Dodgerslist.com can provide some sanity checks on what your vet is doing. It does get dangerous when the dog starts feeling good and you definitely want to avoid going backwards.

As far as a stroller, that could also be dangerous during the initial recovery phase. Anything where the dog is moving around too much could cause a problem. This includes baths, grooming, lap time and all sorts of things.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 

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Testimony from person with IVDD dog...stressing importance of avoiding stairs and furniture jumping. She says she was told that her dog should not do full running but not sure about that. We cannot keep our dogs in bubbles but we CAN avoid jumping off furniture and stairs. Nothing good comes out of those things. May not hurt a healthy dog but really not something a dog needs to be doing who is prone to injury. Small price to pay.

 

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I dont see how running with any kind of back or pelvis injury wouldn’t aggravate a problem. Sundance runs like he’s a doggie Olympian, there’s no such thing as a “gentle jog” for him. I agree that it’s not realistic to control every day running after recovery, but even with the little I know, if my dog had IVDD I wouldn’t let him run in an off leash dog park with big dogs, either. Sundance’s run is like he’s flying! I kept the hallway gated for a long time after he seemed better, first DH started taking him on walks again, slowly increasing the length.

Sundance is tall so I’m not concerned about him getting on our furniture now that he’s recovered, especially because our furniture is low, and because he doesn’t specifically have IVDD. I can see why that would be important to limit. But jumping off the back of the sofa was something I wanted to prevent, since he did it occasionally when he was excited. I thought it was probably an unrealistic goal, especially since he doesn’t do it often, but I actually have found him responsive to redirection. When I came home or at other times when I knew he might be excited, he would start to perch on the back of the couch and I knew he might try to jump off. I started preemptively picking him up and moving him to the seat, then I walked around and gave him attention from the other side. He gets it, now he will lean against the back/arm of the sofa until I see him, and then he will circle around and sit on the cushion and wait for me to come around to him. He also used to jump off the back of the sofa sometimes to follow me upstairs. So now I just pick him up and take him with me, or I go to the front of the sofa and tell him to “come” and he’ll climb down and follow me around instead of taking the shortcut. He hasn’t jumped off of the sofa in ages.

Of course we want dogs to be dogs, but I have come to see it’s possible to identify a few potential trouble spots and shape behavior around those over time. Another small example of this is DD’s bed is quite high since it has drawers beneath. He used to try and jump on it and would get stuck. Long before he was hurt she taught him to sit and initiate one of their tricks as his cue to be picked up. Fortunately he will cry until he’s picked up again rather than jump down, lol.

I guess my point is, if a dog is prone to a particular injury of any kind, it makes sense to show them other routes to what they want. There will be a time when someone forgets to close a gate or push in a chair and a cake is left out, but any reduction of risk is useful.
 

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Thank you so much all of you, especially @mudpuppymama! Super helpful to hear the level of restriction you did at first with Mia, and such a relief to hear you’ve been able to avoid any further issues. I’m going to check out the resource you shared right now— seems like it will be incredibly helpful as we figure out how to navigate this with Charlie.

We still don’t have a 100% confirmed diagnosis as we’re waiting for the X-rays to come back, and which point we’ll follow up with his regular vet too. For now, he’s begrudgingly crated (he slept in a crate every night for the first 2 years of his life, but he never liked being in there when there was anything going on or we were out of the house. I think I may try setting up an x-pen small (so it similarly restricts him, as he didn’t fuss about this set up as much as the enclosed crate when he was little.

@EvaE1izabeth that’s definitely the challenge we’re having— clearly the pain meds are working, which is great, but he doesn’t understand why we’re restricting him. He’ll catch on quickly, and has already taken to getting picked up to come back inside after potty breaks. He does his thing, then turns around to face toward our house and looks at me like ‘ok you are permitted to carry me.’ 🤣 Did any of you use a sling or stroller for the recovery period? Trying to think about safe ways to keep him happy and stimulated during this initial period in particular.

Thank you all again for the well wishes and support... will let you know what we hear from the vet!
I didn’t have to deal with IVDD, but my older dog, Kodi, badly injured his shoulder over a year ago, and the recovery took over 9 months. During that period, we OFTEN used a stroller so that we could take him with us on family walks!
 

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I didn’t have to deal with IVDD, but my older dog, Kodi, badly injured his shoulder over a year ago, and the recovery took over 9 months. During that period, we OFTEN used a stroller so that we could take him with us on family walks!
After the disc is healed and the dog is done with crate rest a stroller would be great. Bouncing in a stroller could be dangerous while the disc is healing. It could be really helpful though once crate rest is done and the dog starts walking again.
 

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After the disc is healed and the dog is done with crate rest a stroller would be great. Bouncing in a stroller could be dangerous while the disc is healing. It could be really helpful though once crate rest is done and the dog starts walking again.
Definitely. Same eith the sling. I’d be very careful about THAT without clearing it with the vet first.
 
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Definitely. Same eith the sling. I’d be very careful about THAT without clearing it with the vet first.
Right. I believe dodgerslist.com would have very good information for these types of questions. I believe many people did use slings. However, some dogs were partially paralyzed in the rear. I would check this out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you for the additional insight here! Dodgers list is a wealth of great information, and super helpful to show my husband in particular, who is a big softie and doesn’t want to ‘be mean,’ but he’s come around to recognizing there is nothing mean about this, it’s just keeping him safe and protected from even more serious and life-altering issues. That’s the kindest and most loving thing we can do right now! (And tell him what a good boy he and give him lots of pets as he is lying quietly

@mudpuppymama one other question for you— how did they confirm Mia’s diagnosis? Did you go to a neurologist or regular vet? Was it based on symptoms? Ultrasound? As I mentioned, they did an X-ray, but I have seen that x-rays can help you rule out other stuff (like a tumor) but I that only ultrasounds or more advanced imaging like MRIs or CT scans can 100% confirm. Was that your experience? We are still awaiting more from his vet (tricky bc they haven’t actually examined him but we asked them to let us know their thoughts on next steps based on the ER report) but they’re basically saying in the meantime just behave as if that’s what it is, and do the very restrictive crate rest. So that’s what we’re doing! He’s getting used to it, thankfully, as there was less whining today.

Thank you all again— I’ve been loving the community these last few months (mostly as a source of daily joy w cute puppy pics!) but feeling super appreciative of it (and you!) the last few days as we navigate this situation! Now I will seek out the latest cute puppy pics 😊
 

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Lisa, I am so happy your husband has seen the light and realizes that restricting and protecting Charlie from further injury is not being mean!!!! And a few weeks of crate rest is really nothing compared to the length of a dog’s life!

When Mia had her problem I actually went to a nearby vet that I had never even been to before because the current vet I was using was very far and closing soon. I actually lucked out because the vet I took her to was knowledgeable about IVDD. She actually diagnosed Mia by feeling down her spine and at one point Mia screamed. She also ruled out soft tissue injury. Per my understanding, the only way to determine for sure it is IVDD is by MRI. An MRI is required when surgery is done to determine the exact location of the offending disc. The vet recommended the conservative approach with Mia with strict crate rest and anti inflammatory drugs. Spinal surgery is NOT something I want to do unless absolutely necessary. I also got a lecture from the vet about all the back problems she has seen in small dogs which she attributes to jumping off furniture and stairs. NOTE: Just passing this on...people reading this please do not shoot the messenger.

Folks in a dog group I belonged to recommended Dodgerslist.com and I joined the forum out there. They are wonderful and very supportive people. I actually think all dog owners should be aware of IVDD and the warning signs. I had never heard of it.

I was just wondering...how old is Charlie?

Keep the faith. Sounds like Charlie is doing great. When he recovers, I highly recommend avoiding all future jumping off furniture and doing stairs. Small price to pay for a healthy spine!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Charlie just turned 9 a week ago... How old is Mia? The ER seemed knowledgable about IVDD and explained it well, but then only said 2 weeks ‘quiet time,’ which seems way under what everything else I’ve read suggests! So hoping to hear from his regular vet today. Even if they’re not 100% certain, it seems like there’s no harm in keeping him on crate rest for now, and making sure jumping isn’t in his future! We have been trying to restrict it somewhat as he’s gotten older (like he did a cute ‘dance’ trick when he was a puppy that I haven’t had him do in a couple of years) but we would FAR rather have a healthy happy dog than allow him to continue jumping. He’s a smart boy so he will catch on quickly Im sure, even if he doesn’t quite ‘get’ why we’ve suddenly changed our mind!

The one thing that is ‘funny’ about the timing here is that just last week, I heard from a breeder I’ve been on the waitlist for a while that she’s expecting puppies in June, and hopes to have one for me (no guarantees until they’re born and evaluated, of course!) So now of course we are questioning if that’s right for charlie, or if he’d be better as an only dog for the remainder (hopefully another 6+ years!!) of his life. He still has a lot of energy but tends toward laziness (helpful in this situation) and loves other dogs, so in addition to wanting another dog, we thought it would be great for him to have a younger companion to keep him active, but now are not so sure. No need to decide now, but such are the complications of life!
 

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As far as restriction, I personally would take the advice of Dodgerslist over a vet. Dodgerslist follows up with people on how their dogs do after they are treated by the conservative or surgical methods. An ER vet in particular does not. So I would want to know how many dogs are reinjured and go backwards because they did not follow the conservative protocol or did not continue to restrict their dog from jumping and stairs. You could ask on Dodgerlist if there is some criteria that determines if the strict crate rest period can be shorter.

One thing my regular vet had said to me...”You know this is going to happen again”. Well that made me even more determined to prove them wrong. IMO, the reason it happens again is often because the restriction is not there. It could happen again anyway but why increase the risk? No way I am taking that chance.

Mia will be 13 in August. She was diagnosed with IVDD at age seven. From what I have read, most dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 7. However, as dogs get older there discs can become more brittle and this could occur in older dogs because of age. Another reason to restrict jumping for older dogs. So Mia has been fine for about six years now.

The problem with getting a puppy at this point could possibly be rough housing. I am not sure this would be the best time. This would be a good question for Dodgerslist.

One thing to note if getting another puppy...the chances of IVDD go way up with early spay and neuter. Mia was spayed at six months.
 

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As far as restriction, I personally would take the advice of Dodgerslist over a vet. Dodgerslist follows up with people on how their dogs do after they are treated by the conservative or surgical methods. An ER vet in particular does not. So I would want to know how many dogs are reinjured and go backwards because they did not follow the conservative protocol or did not continue to restrict their dog from jumping and stairs. You could ask on Dodgerlist if there is some criteria that determines if the strict crate rest period can be shorter.

One thing my regular vet had said to me...”You know this is going to happen again”. Well that made me even more determined to prove them wrong. IMO, the reason it happens again is often because the restriction is not there. It could happen again anyway but why increase the risk? No way I am taking that chance.

Mia will be 13 in August. She was diagnosed with IVDD at age seven. From what I have read, most dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 7. However, as dogs get older there discs can become more brittle and this could occur in older dogs because of age. Another reason to restrict jumping for older dogs. So Mia has been fine for about six years now.

The problem with getting a puppy at this point could possibly be rough housing. I am not sure this would be the best time. This would be a good question for Dodgerslist.

One thing to note if getting another puppy...the chances of IVDD go way up with early spay and neuter. Mia was spayed at six months.
All really interesting stuff (especially about early spay/neuter! Charlie was neutered at 9 mos, but I’d probably wait longer next time). And I totally agree on people who have lived with it— unless a vet has personal experience, they don’t know what it’s really like on the day in/day out of it! So glad you pointed us in the direction of dodgers list... and it’s great to know that mia has gone 5 hrs without problems because of your careful management! Definitely worthwhile!
 
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