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Can My Dog Recover from IVDD Without Surgery?

If your canine friend falls in the category of dogs that are highly prone to life-threatening diseases such as Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). You must be wondering the best form of treatment, well for a long time surgery has been recommended as the most effective mode of treating IVDD. IVDD surgery can be quite expensive especially when you do not have insurance cover for your pet. This article explores whether your canine friend can actually recover from IVDD without surgery.

dog wheelchair for IVDD recovery

Can my dog recover from IVDD without surgery?

Yes, your dog can recover from IVDD without surgery. However, the ability of your dog to recover from IVVD without surgery is highly dependent on the stage of your dog’s IVDD. If detected early IVDD can be treated without surgery especially when IVDD has not compromised your dog’s ability to walk, but if it has progressed and affected your dog’s ability to walk or control its bowel and bladder, surgery is the only available treatment for IVDD.

Non-surgical treatment for IVDD is also known as conservative management or treatment. Its main objective is to improve the comfortability of your dog by relieving pain and discomfort. It should help your dog to stand, walk and restore your dog’s ability to control its bowel and bladder.   

What is IVDD?

In a nutshell, IVDD is a disease that affects your dog’s spinal cord gradually over a period of time. This means that senior dogs are likely to suffer from this disease compared to young dogs especially if they fall into the category of dogs that are prone to suffer from IVDD such as beagles, dachshunds, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, and poodles among others. In severe cases of IVDD, your dog will lose control over its bowel and bladder.

Non-Surgical treatments for IVDD in dogs include:

IVDD is curable and recovery is possible without surgery, but it does require patience and a lot of guidance from a pet professional. Conservative management of IVDD is a multi-step process that combines a lot of different treatment options.

Strict Crate-Rest

The fact that IVDD affects the spinal cord of the dog means that it will limit the dog’s mobility. Consequently, to relieve the symptoms of IVDD you will need to limit the mobility of your dog to reduce stress and pressure on the affected vertebral disks.

Strict crate rest involves confining your dog in a small room or crate for a minimum of four weeks. Within this period your dog’s body will try to repair and heal the affected vertebral disk. Combined with other methods discussed below, this non-surgical method can be effective in treating IVDD in its early stages.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

IVDD will cause pain and swelling in your dog especially when they try to move. This non-surgical method of treating IVDD involves using steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve pain and swelling. You should seek the help of a qualified vet to help you with administering these medicines. Combining anti-inflammatory medications with crate rest can help improve the comfortability of your dog.

Dietary Care

As stated earlier, IVDD affects the spinal cord of the dog. The spinal cord is one of the organs that are involved in supporting the dog’s body and facilitating movement. Therefore, to relieve pain and pressure on this organ you should ensure that your dog is not overweight.  

Seek the help of a qualified veterinarian to determine the right diet to offer to your dog to prevent them from adding weight and at the same time promote quick recovery.

Physical Rehabilitation or Physical Therapy

Corgi Receives Rehab Therapy

These services should only be offered by a qualified rehab specialist. The rehabilitation process begins with the assessment of your dog’s condition. This will help the specialist to determine the best sets of physical therapy to be offered.

If the IVDD is not severe, the specialist can recommend at-home treatments that you can easily administer or professional treatment that will need the help of the specialist.

For dogs whose IVDD statuses have been diagnosed in their early stages, physical therapy can help with quick recovery.

Do back braces help dogs with IVDD?

Proper back support can help pets as the heal from Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). A back brace stabilizes a dog’s back and reduces overall back pain during IVDD recovery. Back support isn’t always the right solution, only your veterinarian can help decide if it’s needed.

How can a dog recover from IVDD without surgery?

Well, if IVDD is diagnosed early enough. Through a process known as phagocytosis, the dog’s body will be able to break down the herniated material hence relieve the compression exerted on the spinal cord. With inflammation medication, the healing process will occur over time.


While surgery is the best sure way to treat IVDD, non-surgical methods can be very effective in treating IVDD in its early stages. However, if your dog’s IVDD condition has worsened surgery is the only solution. Seek the help of a qualified veterinarian when diagnosing and treating your dog. They will be able to advise you on the best mode of treatment either surgical or non-surgical.

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