Boise Emergency: 208.375.1600 | Idaho Falls Emergency: 208.552.0662 | Meridian Emergency: 208.813.6477


This remains one of most common conditions affecting chondrodystrophic dogs. Veterinary surgical treatment helps restore your dog's mobility and strength.

In a dog’s body, intervertebral discs between vertebrae account for 60% of the length of the spinal column. Invertebral Disc Disease (IVVD) is degenerative, where discs gradually become less able to absorb shock and more liable to damage.

IVDD occurs in any breed, however, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Labrador Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels remain over-represented.

While many dogs with spinal pain will vocalize, some exhibit more subtle signs, including:

  • tremors
  • difficulty rising
  • an altered body posture (hunching, or tucking of the head or tail)
  • reluctance to move their head
  • pain and weakness in rear legs (lameness)
  • anxious behavior
  • reduced appetite
  • overall reduced activity level

Medical management has traditionally been sought as the initial treatment for any dog with IVDD. Our specialty team finds that pain management with opioids and anti-inflammatories and strict rest are essential parts of medical management. Ideal candidates for medical management include dogs that can still walk with only early signs of pain and mild weakness.

Additional treatments such as physiotherapy and acupuncture can be beneficial for dogs recovering from IVDD.

Your dog’s back surgery — the IVDD surgical procedure

SSurgical management of dogs with IVDD alleviates spinal cord compression. Dogs with persistent pain and/or weakness despite medical management are candidates for surgery.

Dogs unable to walk need an immediate referral for advanced imaging such as MRI or CT with myelogram and a surgical assessment. Time delays can mean further deterioration of neurologic status, resulting in a worse prognosis.

The prognosis for dogs with IVDD undergoing surgery depends on preoperative neurologic status. Generally, dogs that can feel their rear legs have an 85% chance or greater for recovery while those without sensation may only have a 50% chance or less for recovery.

As physical therapy proves beneficial in recovery, we work closely with our team in the WestVet Veterinary Physiotherapy Center to develop a recovery plan.

The incidence of recurrence or treatment failure following a disk herniation treated medically may be as high as 50%. For this reason, and because of the risk of worsening neurologic status, we recommend early surgical intervention.

WestVet’s Team of emergency doctors, board certified surgeons, and radiologists have extensive experience treating IVDD.If you think your dog is suffering from this disorder, contact your family veterinarian immediately to ensure the best possible outcome.doxie_surgery

Please see your family veterinarian for a referral for a consultation with a WestVet surgeon. Feel to contact us with any questions, 208.375.1600

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This