Health Concerns – IVDD

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a serious issue in dachshunds due to their disproportionate skeletal structure. 1 in 5 dachshunds will experience IVDD, with the occurrence being more likely between the ages of 3 and 7.

A form of dwarfism has been bred into dachshunds, thus the smaller limbs and torsion of the limbs. A result of this genetic disease is early calcification of the intervertebral discs (the cushions between the bones of the spine). When the cushions between the bones of the spine are working properly they absorb the shock from normal motion.  When they are calcified they don’t absorb shock but will ‘burst’ if enough force goes through them.  (This is why if we try to keep the dachshunds off of stairs, no jumping, and lift them properly supporting their bums).

In humans that herniate a disc you will often find it hits a nerve and can cause pain down a leg (for instance). But in dogs, a herniated disc compresses the spinal cord itself and causes paralysis from that segment down.  So a ‘downed’ dog is one that is paralysed. Typically at the junction of the thoracic and lumbar spines (where the ribs end at their ‘waist’).  Based on ability to move their legs, reflexes, and response to pain will indicate how much damage has been done.  If left beyond a day or two the spinal cord literally liquefies and there is no use in having the surgery at that point as the cord is useless. That’s why it’s imperative to rush them to the surgery table immediately. Every hour that goes by results in more permanent damage.

Every dachshund has the potential for this and every adopter should be aware of this to do their best to avoid it. Good breeders try to minimize this as much as possible.

(Herniation video by Dodgerslist)