Does Your Dog Have Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) Or Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)? April 09, 2022

Does Your Dog Have Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) Or Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)?

Does your dog have intervertebral disc disease (ivdd) or degenerative myelopathy (dm)?

Your Dog’s Spinal Health

Does Your Dog Have Intervertebral Disc Disease or Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)? When it comes to your dog’s spinal health, knowledge is absolutely a necessity.  Being aware of the risks will help in identifying issues when they surface and alerting the veterinarian early enough for treatment.

One of the most devastating health conditions for dogs is back problems. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is the number one health issue for small dogs. However, there is another condition that is often mistaken with IVDD. That condition is Degenerative Myelopathy (DM).

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Keep in mind, big dogs also suffer from spine injuries such as IVDD and DM.  So, how can you tell if your dog has IVDD or DM? Below is a comparison of the two health conditions.

CategoryDegenerative Myelopathy (DM) Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
The usual age of onset8-12 years2-8 years
MRINormalShows disk damage
DM DNA testDM DNA testMaybe a clear, carrier, or at risk.
Initial signsDog loses the ability to sense movement or body position, feet slipping, dragging, or crossing, loss of muscle in back legsCan be sudden, acute, complete paralysis. Can also have symptoms like those of DM. Rear feet may knuckle over, the dog may lose “quick reflex” in back feet (slow or not able to right foot).
PainNone from DMMild to the extreme; no deep pain occurs only with complete paralysis.
ImprovementNone: progresses until the dog is completely paralyzed and body systems shut down.Improvement may occur with surgery or rest, medications, rehab.
TreatmentPhysical therapy may help slow progression, supplements are sometimes recommended, no cure. Assistive devices and carts will be needed, the dog will need help with toileting and preventing bedsores.Surgery or crate rest combined with physical therapy, NSAIDS, or steroids.

Is Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) Preventable?

There is no way to prevent Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs except through selective breeding. Request to see the pup’s SOD-1 gene mutation testing results. They should come back normal. Breeds at risk for DM include:

IVDD Survivor Story – Hannah & Louis

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Does your dog have intervertebral disc disease (ivdd) or degenerative myelopathy (dm)?

Is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) Preventable?

There is no way to prevent IVDD, but you can lower the risks for your four-legged buddy by having them use a dog ramp. Dog ramps ease the pressure small dogs put on their spines when they are jumping onto furniture or running up and down the stairs.

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Small dogs are prone to IVDD, and Dachshunds, in particular, have the highest rate of IVDD. Their elongated spines and short legs force more pressure on their spines. While dog ramps can be expensive, it is well worth the money spent. A dog suffering from IVDD is not only heartbreaking but can be fatal as well. Some breeds at risk for IVDD include:

Final Thoughts

IVDD and DM are debilitating conditions. Not only will your dog suffer, but so will your bank account. Vet bills for checkups and surgeries can be very costly. The best solution is taking preventative steps and maintaining your dog’s overall health.

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If you think your dog is suffering from a back issue, take them to the vet immediately. The sooner they are seen, the quicker they will get the care needed to get back on their fur feet.
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