FAQ - IVDD in Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

From a Vet's perspective in words you can understand.  When you are trying to help your dog, you want to know the how and what.

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral Disk Disease: Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and displacement of disc material into the Vertebral canal or intervertebral foramen.  This places pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.  This can cause signs ranging from neck and back pain to loss of use or sensation of the back or front and back limbs.

Can a dog recover from IVDD? 

IVDD is a disease we manage with Meds, PEMF Treatment, Strength Training, Spinal Support and Surgery if needed. 

Is IVDD in dogs fatal?

IVDD can cause Life Threatening problems in advanced stages and can be Fatal. 

Should you euthanize a dog with IVDD?

This depends on the severity of symptoms and response to treatment.  Work with your Veterinarian to make the decision that is right for you. 

How long can a dog live with degenerative disc disease?

Some dogs live a full life after being diagnosed with IVDD. I can depend on the severity of the disease and response to treatment. 

How do you lift a dog with IVDD?

Lifting a dog with IVDD involves supporting the pets back. For small dogs like Dachshunds place your forearm underneath the pet and between their front and rear legs. Hand between the front legs. Then  wrap the other arm around them and steady them against your chest as you lift. 

Can my dog recover from IVDD without surgery?

There are dogs that recover from IVDD without surgery. Medication, Back Bracing, Canine Rehab (Canine Physical Therapy), and Animal Chiropractic are very helpful. If a pet can not use one or more legs, has no feeling in them, or is extremely painful then consultation with a Veterinary Surgeon/Neurologist is indicated. 

Does IVDD go away?

Dogs that have IVDD are at risk of having more problems down the road. 

What dogs are prone to IVDD?

Breed/Species predilection:
American cocker spaniel
Brachycephalic breeds  Think short face or smashed face.
Chondrodystrophic breeds (CD Breeds) Think Long body and short legs.
  (Dachshund,  Pekingese, Pembroke Welsh corgi ,Shih tzu)
Dandie dinmont terrier
Large breed dogs  (Labrador Retriever, Doberman pinscher, Dalmatian, German Shepherd)

Disc Disease Classifications:

Hansen Type I : Displacement of  the nucleus pulposus through a rent in the annulus fibrosis. Causes spinal cord or nerve root compression.  Typically has acute to subacute onset. Common in CD breeds, especially the dachshund.19 The dachshund, beagle, pekinese, shih tzu and American cocker spaniel have the highest reported incidence. 

Hansen Type II: Bulging of the annulus fibrosis and herniation of the nucleus pulposus within the annulus. Produces a more diffuse mass effect.  Associated with a more gradual onset of clinical signs. 

Hansen Type III  or Acute Non-compressive Nucleus Pulposus Extrusion (ANNPE) : Low volume/High Velocity disc extrusion.  Associated with strenuous exercise or trauma in dogs >1 year of age and in cats. Causes concussive injury to spinal cord. 


How common is IVDD?

Prevalence is approximately 3.5% of the dog population with death attributed to IVDD at 1%. Miniature dachshunds have the highest risk at 20%.


Clinical Veterinary Advisor 3rd Edition by Cote.  “Intervertebral Disc Disease pg 565-567

Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy 2nd Edition by Millis and Levine. “Intervertebral Disk Disease” Chp 34, pg 611

Veterinary Information Network, Vincyclopedia : Intervertebral disk disease, Thoracolumbar by Katherman