IVDD is one of the most commonly treated diseases in Canine Rehabilitation. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) occurs when the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. This can occur in dogs of all ages. Most commonly occurring in short legged breeds such as Dachshunds, Beagles and Lhasa Apsos. Although, any breed may be affected. Your dog’s discs are subject to a number of degenerative conditions and forces that predispose them to bulge or rupture over time. So exactly how does Physical Rehabilitation help these pups in need?
Treatment of IVDD
Your dog’s IVDD treatment options will depend on how severely they are affected. If your pet can not walk due to disc compression on the spinal cord this is an emergency situation. Immediately schedule an exam and discussion with your Veterinarian. There are two common approached to IVDD treatment. Surgical intervention is necessary in cases where the spinal cord is severely compressed. Pets not as severely affected can look at Conservative Management options. We’re going to focus on Conservative Management where Physical Rehabilitation comes into play.
Physical Therapy for IVDD
If Physical Rehabilitation is recommended as part of your pet’s treatment plan, go for it! The benefits rehab can have are tremendous. Expect to start with a rehab consult.
Your therapist will examine your pet and see exactly which treatments will help. In this consult the therapist will be assessing your pet’s pain level, strength, balance, mobility and proprioception. Proprioception is how aware your pet is of their paws. Compression on the spinal cord can interrupt the signal from their brain to their paws and make their reaction times slower causing them to knuckle or drag their feet. Once all these items are assessed, a rehab treatment plan will be recommended. Most of the time rehab will include sessions with a therapist and at home exercises. Do your homework. Home exercises are SUPER important to your pet’s recovery.
The benefits of Physical Rehabilitation not only in treating IVDD but many other conditions are incredible. Strength, balance, mobility, weight bearing, gait retraining and proprioception improvement just to name a few.
Items such as balance discs, wobble boards, exercises, manual therapy, Laser Therapy and Hydrotherapy are just a few tools in a therapist’s bag to get your pet back on their feet. Pets affected by IVDD which may not be able to stand can regain strength and learn how to walk again under the guidance of a therapist. Laser therapy can ease the pain caused by IVDD. Massage and stretching for treats can also help relieve pain. Your rehab therapist will design a conservative approach specifically for your pet’s needs.
Do Your Physical Therapy Homework
Physical Rehabilitation can work wonders for pets suffering from IVDD. Of course, every pet is different. So, the amount of time spent in rehab will depend on your pet’s condition and their progress. The at home exercises prescribed by your therapist play a crucial role in your pet’s recovery. Non-slip flooring, traction booties and other assistive devices such as slings or back supports may help your pet during the recovery process.
Speaking as a therapist, there’s nothing more rewarding then playing a role in a pet learning how to walk again. Or the smile on an owner’s face when they see their pet walking in the underwater treadmill for the first time in weeks. The goal of Physical Rehabilitation is to aide pets in their recovery using a conservative approach that rewards hard work with treats and love. There’s no better job than being a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist.
Renee Mill, VT, CCRP
Renee Mills is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner and Veterinary product specialist.