Jack is our lovely little dachshund, who is currently eight years young! When we first welcomed Jack into our lives, we were aware that dachshunds were a dog breed prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), so we made some simple adaptations to help take care of his little legs and his long back!
According to Life Time Pet Cover, the most popular dog breeds in 2020 include French Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Pugs, Shih Tzus and Beagles, all of which are considered ' chrondrodystrophic,' or short-legged breeds who are genetically more likely to suffer from IVDD.
What is Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)?
IVDD is a degenerative disease that dogs with little legs and long backs can be prone to. It's the most common spinal injury seen in dogs and can result in pain, reduced mobility, and in the most extreme cases, paralysis.
Intervertebral discs act like shock absorbers. The gradual degeneration of these discs can result in a reduced capacity to absorb shock leading to disc herniation and spinal cord compression in some cases.
Chrondrodystrophic is the term used to describe dog breeds that typically have short legs compared to their bodies.
A list of 12 short-legged dog breeds prone to IVDD
- Basset Hound
- British Bulldog
- Cocker Spaniel
- French Bulldog
- Lhasa Apso
- Scottish Terriers
Some breeds that are not chrondrodystrophic are also commonly affected by IVDD, such as German Shepherds and Labradors.
6 tips to reduce the risk of IVDD in dogs with little legs, and long backs
Treatment of IVDD can be expensive, and while it cannot be completely prevented in part due to genetic predispositions, there are some lifestyle adaptations you can make to reduce the risks of your dog suffering from IVDD.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise caution with high impact activities such as jumping and climbing stairs
- Management when left alone to prevent accidents
- Regular exercise
- Embrace the use of rugs and non-slip mats in your home
- Raised food and water bowls
Maintain a healthy weight
It's important for all dogs to maintain a healthy weight. The impact of carrying additional weight around can make your dog more susceptible to back issues, joint issues, and many other health conditions.
Your vet can tell you what your dog's ideal weight should be; keep an eye on your dog's weight, and if in doubt, pop into your vets for a quick weigh in.
Measuring and monitoring your dog's daily food allowance will help you to stay ahead of the curve here. Please take a look at the feeding guidelines on your dog's food and remember that the recommended daily allowance should be for your dog's target weight rather than their current weight. It's usually the daily allowance listed rather than per meal, so divide by two to prevent your dog from piling on the pounds!
Exercise caution with high impact activities
Your dog needs to be allowed to be a dog, but taking small steps to avoid your pup landing wrong when leaping off the sofa or taking a tumble when unsupervised on the stairs is a good idea.
Using a ramp to help your dog get safely on and off the sofa or bed and a stair gate to stop your dog bolting up and down the stairs are simple adjustments you can make at home to prevent accidental tumbles.
Management when your dog is left alone to prevent accidents and injury
Our dogs can really enjoy getting up to a bit of mischief when nobody's looking! Before leaving your dog alone, it is a good idea to risk assess the space they will be in for any potential areas where trouble could occur.
If your dog is crate trained and content to spend time in their crate for a while, this is one option. Or, you may choose a room divider or dog gate to give your dog free access to a safe space when alone.
Our Dog-G8 Plus is a brilliant and very adaptable dog gate which can be used to either section off a part of a room to ensure your pup is safely enclosed or can be used in doorways so your pet can't escape!
Regular physical exercise is an essential part of our dog's lives. Getting out each day to smell the fresh air, check doggy pee-mail, stretch their limbs, and enjoy a varied environment not only contributes to your dog's physical health but their mental health too.
Regular exercise will also help your dog maintain a healthy weight and keep their muscles in good tone.
While your dog is a young puppy, the amount of exercise they have each day should be restricted to approx five minutes per month of age. While their bones and joints are developing, they are soft and supple and more prone to injury or wear and tear that could lead to future injuries.
Embrace the use of rugs and non-slip mats in your home
Having rugs down and non-slip mats in your home can reduce the likelihood of slipping or landing on a hard floor. Having these down next to your dog's bed and beside the sofa or ramp if you're using one will lessen the possibility of slipping when your dog moves gets up and down.
Raised food and water bowls
Choosing a raised or elevated dog bowl for your pup can help your dog be more comfortable when eating and drinking. Having a bowl that your dog doesn't need to stretch down to is better for their posture, which supports good back health. Popping your dog's bowl on a non-slip mat can also be beneficial and make feeding time easier for your dog.
Signs and symptoms that your dog may be suffering with IVDD
Pain in the back or neck is the most common indication that your dog may be suffering from IVDD. However, signs of pain in our dogs can often be subtle, so be mindful of your dog's 'normal' and pay attention to any changes to that.
If your dog usually enjoys a good fuss, for example, but is shying away from touch or offering you their tummy as opposed to their back, then it may be worth investigating.
Dogs that are in pain may also be more sound sensitive, so increased barking can be an indication of pain.
Your dog may present with an abnormal gait or posture, an arched back, panting, sleeping more, finding it harder to settle, difficulty jumping or going up and downstairs. In cases of acute pain, your dog may yelp, shiver, or show difficulty walking and going to the toilet.
If you are ever concerned about a change in your dog's behaviour, activity, or mood, then there is no substitute for a check-up with your vet.