Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Part II - Living with IVDD and the Development of the Brace

by Lisa Luckenbach

Our lives changed forever when June and Henry were diagnosed with IVDD and a big part of my life still revolves around the journey we started when trying to find a way to make their pain go away. Emergency room visits, strong medication and complete crate rest were not what I’d envisioned when we brought our puppies home.

Caring for a dog with IVDD can be tough emotionally. 

It was hard for me to watch my pups not be able to play and jump around like ‘normal’ dogs, hear them whimper in pain, and watch them have muscle spasms. No dog mom wants to see their pups not well.

At first I was angry and felt I was confining my tiny rambunctious June to prison, since using a crate became a way of life and she was sentenced to it for an entire month! The thought of her having back surgery or living with doggy wheels if her spine was compromised truly worried me and I immediately began searching the marketplace for canine back support, but found no back brace for dogs.

With the help of my brilliant seamstress, I started dreaming, sketching, and designing and came up with a brace to support their torsos and lengthy spines. 

June wore her dog back brace throughout her recovery from her second back injury and it prevented her from twisting and wiggling. Nursing her through two long back injury recoveries gave me the opportunity to put my skills and life experience to effective use.

I had always felt a special kinship with animals and had been trained in animal massage therapy as well as animal communication. Instinctively I knew my dogs needed more than strong medication and crate rest.

My most important goal for my pups became returning them to a happy, pain free life.

There is so much helpful advice these days on the web to help you and your little sufferers live a high quality life with IVDD- the key words being HIGH QUALITY LIFE! – here are a few tips I found especially helpful during recovery:

Diet – maintain your dog’s healthy weight to reduce stress on their backbone and neck.

Food – moisten kibble or feed them wet food. Chewing can cause stress on the jaw and neck, which can result in pain. Same goes for chew toys or treats. Abstain from these during the recovery period.

Eliminate stress on back and neck – raise food and water bowls so that your dog doesn’t have to bend down to eat or drink; keep the crate your pup is recovering in at a higher level so that he doesn’t have to raise his head to look at you or his surroundings.
Acupuncture Therapy – this is particularly good for dogs that respond poorly to or cannot tolerate medication. Surgery may not be an option due to health or finances. Acupuncture may be one option to look into, as it regenerates neurons mobilizing stem cell regrowth.

Laser Therapy – although costly, LT has been proven to reduce tenderness, pain and speed up the tissue healing process.

Back support – after a period of recovery, it is important to keep your dog’s back stable and straight. Wearing a back brace such as WiggleLess® puts less pressure on your dog’s spine and may help him or her to have a more enjoyable and normal life.

Environment - lots of love, comfort, warmth, encouragement, and a peaceful environment. Dogs get stressed out just like us humans do. Stress makes it hard to heal!

Your veterinarian will determine the best medical protocol for IVDD and your dog. 

If your dog is in severe back pain due to IVDD, one or more of the following medications may be prescribed:

Steroids - they are anti-inflammatories and immune system suppressors. They are good especially if given in the vein the first 8 hours or by shot in the muscle, and followed by pills at home. The most commonly used are: prednisone and dexamethasone. Accompany with a stomach protector such as Pepcid (famotidine).

NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) - they are anti-inflammatories, and also have pain killing properties too. They must never be mixed with steroids or the NSAID aspirin. The most commonly used are: Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Previcox or Metacam. Accompany with a stomach protector such as Pepcid (famotidine).

Muscle Relaxants - during a herniation a dog can have nasty muscle spasms. Muscle relaxers help prevent them and they also help keep the dog calm while in crate rest. The most commonly used are: Methocarbamol and Valium.

Pain Killers or Analgesics - they help through the healing period by making your dog more comfortable. The most commonly used are: Tramadol or a Fentanyl patch.


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)

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