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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dachshund Week: Back Problems, Part 2

Here's a little more discussion on intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in dachshunds.

I have just read your blog article on IVDD in dachshunds and was hoping you could tell me approximately what percentage of dachshunds that are diagnosed with the disease undergo surgery?

Would it also be possible to get the costs of this treatment per dog please.

There is no reporting system for this disease, so we really don't know exactly how many dachshunds succumb to disc herniations and how many of those go to surgery.  Even though this breed is highly prone to spinal injuries, most of them won't have it happen.  Of those who do, the majority never end up in surgery because most clients can't afford it.  In my own experience I'd say that less than 10% of my clients have their dogs go to surgery after a slipped disc.  Most of them try medical therapy and if that doesn't work will likely have them euthanized.

Costs will vary between locations and between countries (since I have an international readership), but you can expect anywhere from around $2000-$4000 for a surgery.  Expensive?  Certainly.  But only a fraction of what the same surgery would be on a human.  One of the difficult realities of the surgery is that we can't promise a positive outcome afterwards.  You could spend that much money and have little to no improvement.  However, the odds are absolutely better with surgery than without, especially if it is done within a day or so of the injury.

We've talked about the consequences of IVDD and how serious this can be.  What can be done to prevent it?  After all, isn't prevention better?

The number one thing I can recommend is to keep your dachshund at a normal weight.  Excessive weight puts extra stress on the back and increases the risk of a disc slipping out of place.  I see a lot of overweight or obese dachshunds and it always worries me.

The second biggest thing is to not allow them to jump on and off furniture.  It's common to let dogs on the furniture, especially the couch and bed.  But jumping down can lead to a sudden impact and twist, putting pressure on the intervertebral discs.  With just the wrong impact the disc can pop.

Other than these two biggies, be careful with anything that could cause twisting or pressure on the back.  If you can lower the risks you can help avoid serious and costly problems.