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"We give pet parents the help they need to get their injured and aging pets PAIN FREE so they can KEEP MOVING and do the things they love"

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IVDD disease is a painful and scary disease for both dogs and their owners. It can result in mild pain or very intense pain and a dog that is unable to walk at all. It can show up in different ways - it can be an issue that waxes and wanes and can be difficult to manage to something that comes suddenly out of the blue with no warning whatsoever. Balance Vet is here to help if you think your dog might have IVDD.


The spine is made up of vertebrae with discs between them. The spinal cord is protected within the top half of the bony vertabrae and the discs run along the bottom half of the vertabrae. The discs are spongy and allow the give in the spine to give it flexibility. In IVDD these discs lose their sponginess due to breeding and genetics (dachshunds, pugs, french bulldogs, English Bulldogs) or due to old age. If these discs break down then the remaining disc gets squashed and parts of the disc can then push up into the spinal cord. It is the squashing of the disc and surrounding ligaments of the spine that is extremely painful. If the disc starts to push on the spinal cord and squash it then the parts of the spine that help with balance, walking, detecting pain and toileting can be affected. In summary if there is a lot of damage then you can have a pet that is painful, lost balance, lost use of their legs and is unable to toilet on their own. The two treatment approaches we have are surgery or conservative therapy. Regardless of whether there is mild pain or extreme pain with paralysis rehab may be able to help. Not sure if rehab will help your dog? Click on the button below, fill in the short form and we can have a chat. 

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has IVDD?

You would need to get your dog checked by a vet or rehab therapist to be able to say with some certainty but if your dog is showing any of the below signs then they may have IVDD

  • Yelping when moving

  • Yelping when in bed

  • Seems suddenly less active

  • Trembling

  • Unwilling to eat

  • Wobbly on back legs

  • Knuckling front or back paws

  • Not going to the toilet 

  • Pain in neck or back

  • Sudden inability to walk


It is important to note that tick paralysis can look similar to IVDD and if your dog has difficulty standing or is wobbly you may have an emergency situation and should contact a vet immediately.

How Can We Help Your Dog?

We have more useful information for pet parents in our latest newsletter on IVDD. Download it below to get info on how rehab might be helpful for your furry friend.

Balance Vet Rehab IVDD Newsletter


Surgery Or Conservative Therapy

You will need a rehab therapist or specialist surgeon or neurologist to help you make the right decision.

There are different circumstances in which either may be appropriate.

Surgery involves relieving any pressure that is pushing on the spinal cord. Follow up involves pain relief and confinement. Some dogs are slow to recover after surgery. If this is your dog please see our page on dogs not walking after surgery 

Conservative Therapy with Rehab involves first ensuring we are controlling pain. Once pain is under control we can focus on deficits your dog may have with movement. We use "neurodevelopmental sequencing" which is set of exercises that can help remind the brain and muscles how to work together and get your dog walking. This can be used for all range of dogs with IVDD- from dogs that are totally unable to walk to dogs who just a little weak or unbalanced.


Type 1 OR Type 2 IVDD



This usually happens in dogs with short legs (eg dachshund, pugs)

Often seen in middle aged or older dogs

The fibrous layer of the disc gets harder and less flexible as time goes by.

There is often no indication by the dog that these changes are aready happening in the disc

When an injury occurs it happens suddenly.

The disc ruptures and the jelly inner substance of the disc leaks out and pushes on the spinal cord.

Disc rupture can be associated with excess activity but can spontaneously rupture.


Happens often in large breed or older dogs

The discs become harder over a long period of time

Both the outer and inner layer may be pushing on the spinal cord.

Usually will see hints in your dog that they have back issues before you they get a more severe episode of back pain and other issues.

This can result in less sudden more waxing and waning signs.


Our Jack Russell, Maya, was struggling following some spinal damage. She had weekly visits with Dr Steve for physio and acupuncture. After five visits we were thrilled to see a marked improvement in her demeanour, her energy levels and she was obviously in much less pain.
Can’t recommend Balance Vet highly enough!

Kate with Maya.

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