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Coping with disc disease


“You know, saa-shaay! Her back head swayed to the sides, and she crouched low in the back. Sashay. Pull the city center. You know, ‘Shawty is short, short, low.’ Not her usual Doxie dance.

I did not learn about TikTok’s most engaging moves, but about the sudden sauna style of 5 year old Dachshund named Dorothy. Obviously I don’t understand.

“She started doing this for no reason. She could lie beside me, jump down and then start to stoop and pull her back tail. If I touch her on the back, she will be a bit horrified.

To give her opinion, Dorothy’s mother pulled up her sleeve to reveal an uncomfortable cut on her forearm that cut across a special tattoo reconstruction of Picasso “Lump” Dachshund.

Note for Yourself: Avoid Dorothy’s pointy tip while inspecting the following items. Also, ask her mother who made the ink for her.

Disc disease

I immediately observed that Dorothy was significantly weaker in her hind legs. I also noticed a frown as I approached her back. My findings quickly began to validate my initial concern: disc disease.

Disc disease (IVDD) is the most common spinal condition in dogs diagnosed by a veterinarian.

Typical clinical signs are:

  • Sudden weakness (paralysis) or paralysis in one or both hind legs
  • Severe localized pain along the spine
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating
  • Reluctantly standing, walking or climbing stairs

If the injury is in the neck area, all 4 legs may be affected. There are many conditions that can cause similar symptoms including trauma, arthritis, infectious or immune-mediated diseases of the spine, blood clots, neuromuscular disease, and tumors.

There are three types of IVDD vet must distinguish.

Hansen type 1 IVDD occurs when part of the disc, the protective “shock absorber” located between the spinal vertebrae, breaks or protrudes, compressing the spinal cord running down the center. This causes intense pain and interferes with nerve conduction, leading to weakness or paralysis. Type 1 is commonly found in breeds of chondrodystrophoid (“short-legged” or “short”) dogs such as Dachshunds, Corgis, Frenchies and Basset Hounds; dogs with CDDY or CDPA gene mutations; and obese dogs. These injuries usually occur in the middle of the back called the chest-lumbar junction or “TL”.

Type 2 is more common in larger, older breeds and is a progressive, usually harmless, disease that can lead to gradual paralysis.

Type 3 also known as “acute uncompressed disc” or “rocket disc” and is often followed by injury or trauma.

Diagnosis is made based on medical history and physical examination, neurological testing, X-rays, and MRI or CT scan. I will be the first to admit that I consider any “sashaying hot dog” to have IVDD until proven otherwise.

Inspection and Monitoring

Dorothy’s mother soon identified the problem and my tests revealed a sensation of pain in both legs. I have explained how the simple “pinch test” is important in determining how important a spinal cord compression is in dogs. If a dog suspects IVDD does not pull out the leg when the skin between the toes is pressed, it is a sign that urgent surgery is needed.

Another essential test is “knuckle-over”. I gently flex the top of Dorothy’s feet so that she “stands” over it. Healthy dogs will immediately turn their paws back. Dogs with disturbing IVDD will remain in a “kneeling” state or very slowly return their legs to their normal position.

Finally, I emphasize the importance of monitoring normal urine flow and painless bowel movements. Many dogs with IVDD will develop weak bladder function, putting them at risk for infections and complications. Other dogs will experience painful defecation, leading to constipation or worse. If Dorothy has any change in urine output or flow, or is crying or whimpering while going potty, she needs it right away.

Duration of treatment

IVDD depends on the type, location, duration, severity, and progression. Dogs with frequent paralysis or loss of sensation need immediate surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal cord to eliminate pain and restore function. The longer a dog has severe IVDD, the worse the chances of full recovery become. The majority of cases, especially with early treatment, improve with combination of anti-inflammatory, rehabilitation, and resting medications.

Help your dog lose weight with his diet to help relieve pressure on the spine.

Dorothy passed all of her neurological tests, showing possible slight bulging and compression of the spine. The X-rays did not show any obvious spinal abnormalities, so we decided to delay the referral of a neurologist and an MRI scan unless her condition worsened.

  1. I had a strong anti-inflammatory injection and started 4th grade laser therapy that day. We arranged for one of our veterinarian technicians to treat her at home two to three times a week for the next four to six weeks.
  2. The strict rest and limited exercise for the next two weeks also put me under stress. Short, well-supervised walks to use the bathroom and sitting quietly in the womb or beside her will be baby’s only activities until further notice. Dorothy has a comfortable carrier that her mother will make more cozy during her recovery.
  3. In addition, we will then begin taking oral anti-inflammatory drugs in combination with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
  4. I have also prescribed a weight loss plan to help Dorothy lose a few unhealthy pounds which is putting more pressure on her weak spine. Because safe weight loss in dogs is about 70% of the diet and only 30% of exercise, she can safely begin to lose weight before increasing activity.

Immediate treatment = Better results

Within a week, Dorothy stopped pain. For a month, I agreed to let her leave the custody, as long as she didn’t jump up (down) or climb stairs. She has lost one pound and looks healthier every day. We continue laser treatment for another two months and maintain the Omega-3 DHA for life. I’m glad to hear that Dorothy has gone back to normal within six months, albeit a bit thinner and smarter! Dorothy’s mother believes DHA joint health supplementation for health and vitality; I credit there to lose weight. Both of us are probably right!

Timely recognition and treatment allow Dorothy to stop “pulling” and continue to “dance Doxie”. Back injuries need timely evaluation for best results. If you think your dog is weak or sore in the back or legs, or “getting too low” or “dragging,” contact your veterinarian right away. And be sure to tell them that this is not about TikTok.


Dr. Ernie Ward is an internationally recognized veterinarian, renowned for his innovations in small animal practice in general, long-term medication monitoring, special needs of elderly dogs and cats. , and obesity in pets. He is the author of ‘The Clean Pet Food Revolution’ and a frequent guest on many TV shows.



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