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Coco: IVDD

Education > Patient Stories 1st April 2019

Intervertebral disc disease or ‘slipped disc’ is most commonly seen in short-legged breeds such as Corgis and Dachshunds.

IVDD can be a very painful condition which may cause behaviour changes such as vocalising, hiding and aggression. If the lesion is more serious, neurological signs affecting the limbs (such as limping, incoordination, paralysis) can occur. Bladder function may also be affected which results in urine dribbling or inability to pass urine voluntarily.

30 JAN 2018

Coco suddenly lost the use of her hind legs.

Our dog’s spinal column is made up of a series of bones called vertebrae and intervertebral discs which act as ‘shock absorbers’: 7 cervical (neck) vertebrae, 13 thoracic (mid back) vertebrae and 7 lumbar (lower back) vertebrae. In a dog with IVDD, the disc protrudes into the spinal canal or the material in the disc extrudes into the spinal canal, compressing and damaging the spinal cord. IVDD is graded from 1 to 5 depending on severity. Grade 1 lesions are the mildest resulting in pain only while Grade 5 lesions involve complete paralysis without the ability to perceive pain.

Physical and neurological exam, myelogram and CT scan helped our surgeon Dr Dennis Choi, Mount Pleasant (Gelenggang), locate the ruptured disc and plan for Coco's surgery.

For ruptured disc in the thoracic or lumbar spine, a specialised procedure called hemilaminectomy is performed to access the vertebral canal and remove the disc material compressing the spinal cord. The incision on Coco’s back healed very well.

Conservative management may be acceptable for patients with mild neurological deficits. This involves strict cage rest (ensuring your dog does not jump or move around excessively), pain relief and/or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Dogs with paralysis or loss of pain sensations require prompt surgery to remove the disc material or disc itself that is compressing on the spinal cord. This surgery is very specialised and must be performed by a veterinary surgeon competent in neurosurgery.

15 FEB 2018

Following the spinal surgery by Dr Dennis Choi and strict home rest, Coco improved day by day. Gentle controlled exercise and physiotherapy were gradually incorporated to help Coco build up strength and regain normal motor function.

“Coco is a sweet girl with a mild temperament. She loves Lele and always wants to be with him. Coco is coping much better than the humans. Her independent character makes her crate rest and recovery much easier for us. She doesn’t whine while being crated. She doesn’t complain about anything, she’s the best patient.” ~ Coco’s family (Photo: @corgiandachshund)

“We learnt a lot about IVDD from IG furiends. Some recovered, some are on wheels permanently. Coco doesn’t jump on furniture at all. They have ramps to access the couch and bed but only Lele uses it. We place dog beds everywhere so they can stay comfortable on the floor. We have taken precautions but some things just happen. Here are some advice:

  • Discourage jumping up and down furniture.
  • Crate your dog and go to the vet ASAP if you suspect IVDD.
  • Crate rest after surgery, 6 to 8 weeks recommended.
  • Use a sling support to help your dog during toilet breaks.
  • Each dog’s recovery differs. Be patient and do not rush your dog to walk.
  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight to reduce stress on spine and legs.

17 MAR 2018

6-weeks post surgery review and Coco’s recovery is excellent.

Coco can gradually resume normal walks and outdoor activities with Lele.