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5 Signs Your Dog Has IVDD

Intervertebral disk disease is a common condition in dogs, mainly middle-aged or older dogs. IVDD occurs when the spine’s disks that cushion the vertebrae degenerate or rupture. This can cause pain, mobility issues, and even paralysis.

It is a condition often diagnosed by exclusion, which means you must rule out other possible causes of the dog’s symptoms before a diagnosis of IVDD can be made. If not treated, IVDD can be fatal.

You can look for several things to see if your dog may have IVDD. Here are five signs of IVDD to watch out for:

1. Changes in Behavior

IVDD can be extremely painful, and you may notice changes in your dog’s behavior. Even the most even-tempered dog may become irritable or snap when in pain.

Some dogs may also become withdrawn and depressed. They may stop playing and seem lethargic. A change in appetite is also common, with some dogs eating less and others becoming ravenous.

Some cases of IVDD are not painful, but the dog may still exhibit changes in behavior. For example, dogs that are typically very active may become couch potatoes, and those that are usually calm may become anxious or agitated. 

If you have an emotional support dog, you need to learn all you need to know about ESD to keep them healthy and happy. It can also be difficult to tell if a behavior change is due to pain or another condition, so it’s always best to consult your vet if you notice any changes.

2. Sensitivity to Touch

Dogs with IVDD often have sensitivity to touch due to the pain caused by the condition. As a result, you may notice your dog flinching when you pet them, or they may try to move away from your touch. In severe cases, dogs may growl or snap when touched because of their pain.

Some dogs tend to “guard” their sore area by keeping their leg up or holding still when touched. 

It is more common for them to do this with their hind legs since that is where most of the disks are located. 

To ascertain that this is the reason for their behavior and not aggression, you can offer them a treat while petting them in the area that they are guarding. If they accept the treatment, it is likely due to pain, not aggression.

3. Loss of Bladder Control

Bladder function depends hugely on the spinal cord, which is why the loss of bladder control is often a sign of IVDD. Dogs may start to leak urine or have accidents in the house. In severe cases, they may be unable to urinate at all.

Loss of bowel control may also occur, and you may see your dog straining to defecate without success. Diarrhea or constipation may also be signs that something is wrong. When IVDD puts pressure on the nerves that control the bowel and bladder, it can lead to problems with elimination.

You may notice your dog scooting their bottom along the floor to relieve discomfort. This is often accompanied by licking or chewing at the area, which can further irritate the skin.

4. Difficulty Moving

Paralyzed dachshund with IVDD uses wheelchair

IVVD affects the disks in the spine, which can lead to difficulty moving. If your dog is having trouble getting up, walking, or jumping, it may be a sign that they are in pain.

You may notice that your dog is moving slowly or stiffly. A dog wheelchair may help with mobility issues. However, in some instances, dogs with IVDD may be completely unable to move their legs. For fully paralyzed dogs, wheelchair stirrups are worn to safely lift the dog’s feet or the ground and prevent dragging paws.

If this is the case, it is a medical emergency, and you should take your dog to the vet immediately. This symptom may also be accompanied by crying or whimpering.

Paralysis may also occur if the disks press on the spinal cord, thus causing damage to the nervous system.

Small dachshund wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair
drag bag for paralyzed dog
Walkin’ Drag Bag

5. Crying or Whimpering

Pain is the most common symptom of IVDD, and you may hear your dog crying or whimpering more than usual. This is particularly true when they move or are touched. Some dogs constantly cry, while others only do it occasionally. The pain usually affects the lower back and hind legs the most.

You may also notice your dog whining when they try to get comfortable. They may shift around a lot or pace in an attempt to find a position that is not painful. Dogs with IVDD often lie down more than usual since this position takes the pressure off the disks.

Some dogs develop muscle spasms which can also be painful. These often affect the hind legs and can cause the dog to cry or whine when touched.

If you are unsure about the source of your dog’s pain, you should always take them to the vet for an examination. Pain is not a normal part of life for dogs, and it could signify something serious.

In summary, IVDD is a condition that can cause a lot of pain for your dog. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the symptoms so you can get them treatment as soon as possible. If you think your dog may have IVDD, immediately take them to the vet. Failure to do so could result in permanent paralysis or even death.

French Bulldog with IVDD Walks Again Thanks to Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair

French bulldog with IVDD uses small Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair

This 9-year-old French Bulldog named Brody doesn’t let life get him down. He loves to play, and intervertebral disc disease was not going to stop him!

“He is a true star! Brody loves to play with balls, which has motivated him to get out and play in his wheels. He is still getting the hang of the wheelchair, but so far so good! Brody has intervertebral disc disease and wobbly back legs, and yet so much energy. His sweet new ride has paved the perfect avenue for a new way of walking and running. Brody has a great spirit, and I am so happy to see him Walkin’ on Wheels!”

– Brody’s owner

Brody isn’t alone. Mobility loss in French Bulldogs is prevalent. IVVD, back problems, and other mobility conditions like degenerative myelopathy are becoming increasingly common among frenchies. Luckily, supportive devices like dog mobility carts and back braces can help keep French Bulldogs on the move.

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