Everything you need to know about IVDD

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a degenerative disease that can affect your dog’s spinal cord and causes a range of painful mobility issues. IVDD is a spinal disorder that follows from the herniating of an intervertebral disc inside an afflicted dog. A gelatinous substance that is surrounded by a thick outer layer can be found between the bones and spine in dogs. This substance constitutes the intervertebral disc, and it serves as a shock absorber for the spine. When the intervertebral disc herniates, it can result in concussion or compression of the spinal cord, causing lasting and debilitating damage.


Types of Intervertebral Disc Disease

There are two types of IVDD, known as Hansen Type I and Hansen Type II.

Types of Intervertebral Disc Disease dachshund

Hansen Type I is more commonly seen in small-breed dogs two years and older (such as the beagle, basset hound, miniature or toy poodle, shih tzu, dachshund and others) and involves an acute rupture of the disc. The middle part of the disc (nucleus pulposus) ruptures due to tears in the outer part of the disc (annulus fibrosis). This is also referred to as a slipped disc. The nucleus pulposus loses normal water content and calcification can occur. A ruptured disk causes compression of the spinal cord and can result in pain, difficulty walking, paralysis, and/or the inability to urinate.

Types of Intervertebral Disc Disease German-Shepherd-Dog

Hansen Type II is more commonly seen in middle-aged to older (5 to 12 years) medium and large-breed dogs. Examples of dog breeds more vulnerable to Hansen Type II IVDD disorder are Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, or Dobermans. With Type II, the discs become hardened over a longer period of time, eventually bulging or rupturing to cause spinal cord compression. This condition typically progresses more slowly, it may or may not be painful. Symptoms are similar to those in Type 1.


What causes IVDD in dogs?

Intervertebral Disc Disease is an age-related, gradual degenerative process that affects the spinal cord of the dog over a period of timeand is generally not easy to detect. IVDD occurs when the shock-absorbing discs between your dog’s vertebrae gradually begin to harden until they are unable to cushion the vertebrae properly. The hardened discs will typically go on to bulge and compress the spinal cord, often damaging the dog’s nerve impulses such as those that control bladder and bowel control.

causes of IVDD in dogs

Causes that can aggravate the condition of IVDD include the following:

  • Jumping up and down every day.

It could damage a disc that has been weakened by IVDD, and trigger acute and painful symptoms of the disease.

  • Jumping up quickly or poor landing.

It could lead one or more of the hardened discs to burst and press into the nerves of the dog’s spinal cord causing pain, possible nerve damage or even paralysis.


What are the symptoms of IVDD in dogs?

Intervertebral Disc Disease can occur in any of the discs in your dog’s spine and symptoms of this condition will depend upon which part of the spine is affected, and how severe the damage is.

Symptoms of Neck Intervertebral Disc Disease (Cervical IVDD)

  • Head held lowand Arching back
  • Shivering or crying
  • Reluctance to move
  • Unwillingness or inability to walk
  • Inability to feel all 4 feet and legs
  • Knuckling on paws

Symptoms of Back Intervertebral Disc Disease (Thoracolumbar IVDD)

  • Muscle spasms
  • Tense belly
  • Weakness in hind legs
  • Crossing back legs when walking
  • Inability to walk normally
  • Unable to move or feel back legs

Symptoms of Lower-Back Intervertebral Disc Disease (Lumbosacral IVDD)

  • Pain and difficulty jumping
  • Limp tail
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Dilated anus

Symptoms of IVDD may also appear suddenly or come on gradually. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms seek veterinary care as soon as possible. IVDD can be very painful for dogs and early treatment is essential for preventing the condition from becoming more severe or causing irreversible damage to your dog’s spine.


What is the treatment for IVDD?

treatment for IVDD in dogs

The diagnosis and treatment for Intervertebral Disc Disease needs to begin as early as possible in order to achieve good treatment outcomes. That’s why we recommend taking your dog to the vet for a full examination if you spot signs of IVDD in your dog. Prompt treatment can delay the progression of the disease and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

If your dog is diagnosed with a mild to moderate IVDD injury, treatment may include steroid and anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce pain and swelling, combined with strictly reduced activity for approximately 4 -6 weeks.


Surgery is typically recommended for dogs suffering from more severe cases of Intervertebral Disc Disease. During surgery, your dog’s veterinary surgeon will remove the hardened disc material which is pressing on your dog’s spinal cord and causing the IVDD symptoms.

Recovery from IVDD surgery requires 6 – 8 weeks of restricted activity. Running, climbing stairs, playing with other dogs, or jumping on furniture need to be prevented in order to avoid further damage as your dog’s spine heals.

Physical Therapy

Following surgery, your vet may also recommend physical therapy for your dog in order to work on muscle strengthening and to help get your pet moving comfortably again.

The effect of heat therapy on postoperative recovery is significant. When the wound has scabbed over and is no longer swollen, give your dog heat therapy. Heating dilates blood vessels in muscles and tissues, which speeds up the flow of oxygen and nutrients inside, which can promote recovery.

The PetieTec Heated Therapy Braces for dog recovery after IVDD

The PetieTec Heated Therapy Braces are a great option for dog recovery after IVDD!

√ Targeted Heating for Joints and Muscles

√ Accelerating the Healing Process

√ 3 Temperature options

Related article: Learn more about The PetieTec Heated Therapy Braces.