Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a degenerative disease that affects the discs in the spine of dogs and other animals. The symptoms can range from mild pain to paralysis of the limbs. Though many dogs are able to recover their mobility after a disc rupture, there is no known cure for IVDD. However, knowing what breeds are predisposed to IVDD, and what symptoms to look out for, you can have a much better chance at catching this disease at an early stage. And trust me, with this disease, any little upper hand is a huge win!
Is your dog genetically prone to getting IVDD?
IVDD is more common than you think…
IVDD is a lot more common than you would think. In fact, it is estimated that as many as one in four dachshunds will be diagnosed or show signs of IVDD in their lifetime. That is a big number, and that is only one of the over 20 breeds that are genetically predisposed, but dachshunds are by far the most likely to have IVDD. That’s a lot of dogs! Yet, somehow, many people still don’t know what it is or have never even heard of it. I had never heard about IVDD before my dog was diagnosed with it. Even further, many vets are not experienced, or do not know enough about IVDD.
Over time, through experience and extensive research and studies, we are learning more and more about what it is, what breeds are more likely to have it, and the proper care and treatments that are effective in treating it. Unfortunately, there is still a lot to learn and understand. Recently, scientists have found a way to establish some of the breeds that are predisposed to IVDD. One very important thing you can do for your beloved four legged friend is to identify wether or not they are a genetically predisposed breed.
Chondrodystrophic (Dwarfed) Breeds
Does your dog have short legs? If so, your dog might be a chondrodystrophic breed, also known as a dwarfed breed. Chondrodystrophy (CDDY) is a genetic mutation that causes a reduction of long bone length caused by changes to the structures of the growth plates, or in other words, abnormally short legs. It’s been found that this gene mutation can also cause the premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs, aka: IVDD. According to Healthy Pets, there are 21 dog breeds in which the CDDY gene mutation has been identified. Also, dogs with IVDD were found to be 50 times more likely to have this gene mutation. Here is a list of the most common breeds with the CDDY gene mutation. This was a recent finding, and research is still ongoing. Therefore, this is not a complete list, and it is likely that more breeds will be identified to have the chondrodystrophy gene mutation.
Other breeds that are genetically predisposed to IVDD…
- Cocker Spaniel
- Scottish Terrier
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Chinese Crested
- English Springer Spaniel
Usually, when referring to IVDD, we are mainly talking about the small breeds. However, there is a second form of IVDD. Hansen Type 2, which affects larger breeds of dogs without chondrodystrophy, is more gradual in onset and doesn’t show up until their later years. Instead of the inner disc material rupturing acutely into the spinal cord, the outer part of the disc gradually protrudes over time. This is comparable to when a human gets a ‘slipped disc’. Some large breeds that are predisposed to Hansen Type 2 IVDD are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers.
There is no way of knowing for sure if your dog will have IVDD. However, if your dog is genetically at risk, you may want to take some preventative measures. Things like not letting your dog use stairs, not letting them jump up and down from furniture, or even building ramps in your house can all help prevent an acute disc rupture. Regularly giving your dog CBD oil may also aid in the prevention of disc degeneration, according to a study on mice. And making sure your dog is at a healthy weight will also reduce their risk of IVDD.
Probably the most important thing to do if your dog is one of the predisposed breeds is to learn about IVDD and know what symptoms to look out for. I’ve said this before, and it is so important, the faster you act when symptoms first show up, the better chance your dog will have of not becoming paralyzed and making a full recovery.