Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Part I - My Babies Have What?

by Lisa Luckenbach

I was dumbfounded as our vet repeated the same strange term about my older dachshund Henry, only a short time after learning my younger pup June also had the dreaded canine disease - IVDD

Sadly, I was becoming very familiar with this disease, as both my dachshunds had now been diagnosed with it.

The actual IVDD diagnosis was a shock to us all. 

Having had dogs my whole life, I thought I knew the source of Henry's symptoms. I thought the origin of Henry's pain was stemming from his muscles, tendons, and ligaments but after taking him to my vet, I learned the victims were his vertebral discs.

I was still somewhat ignorant to the world of IVDD, I thought… how could this be!? 

How could Henry have the exact same diagnosis as June? June is much younger and far more active!
Although I somewhat understood her IVDD and back-related issues were the result of the sudden, short impacts caused by constant running, jumping, and playing, I simply didn’t connect the dots to how Henry could also be the victim of the same disease.

We soon learned that IVDD, or Intervertebral Disc Disease, is a degenerative disease that affects countless breeds at various ages and activity levels. 

It occurs when discs in the spinal column begin to shift so much so that they protrude outward, pressing against the spinal cord and its nerves.

We also learned that there are two types of IVDD and yes, both young and old dogs can have it!

Type I can affect dogs at any age, and is mostly seen in (but not limited to) chrondrodystrophic dogs, or dogs bred to be shorter and stockier. (Bassett hounds, Corgis, etc.) This type occurs when a dog’s spine experiences a sudden impact that causes the disc to shift out of place.

Type II – the type Henry was diagnosed with — is more gradual but the results are the same: pressure on the spinal cord and its nerves caused by a bulging disc. Type II IVDD affects older dogs between the ages of 8 and 15 by its very nature, and isn't targeted to primarily chrondrodystrophic breeds.

For both types, rest, laser light therapy, anti-inflammatories, and even surgery are the common protocol and can aid in helping to manage, if not completely relieve, dog back pain; however, older dogs suffering from Type I are less likely to bounce back as quickly as younger dogs and are more likely to experience continual back problems.

So now I had two very different situations on my hands under the same IVDD umbrella. 

Since June’s life with IVDD began when she was only two years old and weighed about eight pounds, I panicked. Was my sweet angel destined to a life of pain and other maladies than can accompany IVDD such as shaking, hunched back, loss of appetite and bladder control?

I realized that if June remained still, she wouldn’t injure her back. 

But what kind of life is that for a dog? Dogs need to be active. I had to find a way to keep June from twisting her spine and wiggling so much, while she went about her daily business. That’s when the solution hinted at me.

June needed a back brace for dogs, something like what the chiropractor prescribed for me when I had injured my back.

Henry, although older, was also suffering with IVDD related symptoms and needed back stability, firm support and stress relief as well. So…given this obvious double circumstance, it wasn’t long before the WiggleLess® seed had been planted!

Click for part two


Lisa Luckenbach has developed WiggleLess® back braces for dogs that are overweight and need extra support, elderly with aching backs, diagnosed with IVDD-related back problems, or overly active and can benefit from the structure a dog back brace provides. 

In addition to running WiggleLess®, Lisa is a registered yoga instructor, licensed massage therapist, public speaker, ordained minister, and breast cancer survivor. She shares her home with her husband, two teen-aged daughters and three spunky, adopted dogs, Ryder (Cocker Spaniel), LaVerne (Schnauzer/Doxie mix), and Chai (Doxie/Jack russell mix). Visit WiggleLess®.com to learn more about Lisa and her back brace for dogs.

Related articles:
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I) 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
What Acupuncture Did For Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. This is such a beautiful story Lisa. I wasn't aware that this was an issue amung these types of breeds. I have a Dauchshund/Jack Russell Terrier mix, so as you can imagine, she's short but full of energy!

    How did you come to realize your dog's were in pain? What was the first symptom you saw? This really fascinates me. Also, how are your dogs doing with the back brace? Has it been helping at all?

  2. Thank you for you kind words Nathan! I sent a longer reply to you via the link with more information.