Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs
Veterinarian Reviewed on October 20, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Intervertebral disc disease or IVD occurs in many breeds of dogs but with greater frequency in long backed dogs such as dachshunds. The intervertebral disc is part of the joint between each vertebrae in the back. Aging and genetics cause the center of the disc to degenerate. With the degeneration there is less elasticity of the joint and this causes more inflammation. This inflammation leads to rupture or herniation of the disc. The disc material compresses the spinal cord and this causes pain and paralysis.
If your dog becomes suddenly paralyzed and has no deep pain in his rear legs, then surgery is indicated for the best outcome. However, surgery is not always possible or recommended in all cases. Conventional medical treatment for IVD dogs is corticosteroids and cage rest. Holistic medicine has a lot to offer these dogs including acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy, dietary and nutritional support.
The best way to treat IVD is to prevent it if possible. A good basic diet that prevents the dog from becoming overweight is very important. This good basic diet should be high quality and homemade if possible. It should contain lecithin( found in soybeans) and bioflavinoids (found in Green Tea). Supplementation with B vitamins and anti-oxidants ( like Vitamin C, E, and Selenium) helps with circulation in the spinal cord .Gingko is another good antioxidant that is good for the nervous system. If the dog still gets IVD on a good diet, then in addition to conventional treatments there are herbals and supplements that can assist in the healing process. Echinacea is useful for its immune stimulating properties. Chinese herbals containing Astragalus are also beneficial. Co-Enzyme Q 10 is very important for these dogs and dogs with IVD should receive 30-100 mg of Co Q 10 daily until recovery. If muscle spasms are a problem passion flower can be used.
Acupuncture is frequently used to help IVD dogs recover. Acupuncture relieves painand muscle spasm and helps treat the gastrointestinal and urinary problems that frequently accompany IVD. Electrical acupuncture is generally used to strengthen reflexes, improve muscle strength and improve the speed of recovery. Several treatments are needed over the course of weeks to months.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan