Dear Daisy Dog
Our dachshund, Schnitzel, is recovering from surgery for a slipped disc. What are the chances that he will develop this problem again?
Twenty-five percent. If Schnitzel were any other breed, the answer would be 15 percent.
Unfortunately, dogs with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) often develop it in multiple discs throughout the middle and low back.
Discs act like cushions between the vertebrae, the bones of the spine.
In some dogs, the discs degenerate with age. This usually occurs in middle age, although dachshunds can develop IVDD earlier.
When a disc degenerates, it pushes on the spinal cord and causes pain, just like in you humans.
We dogs also can experience decreased function in our hind ends – and even paralysis – depending on how much pressure the disc puts on the spinal cord.
Surgery relieves the pressure, but signs can recur if another disc deteriorates.
In the 15 to 25 percent of dogs that suffer recurrences, problems usually become apparent about a year and a half after the first episode.
Veterinary researchers recently recognized a risk factor for recurrence of IVDD: the appearance of calcified discs on the x-ray taken at the time of the initial episode.
The more calcified discs seen on the x-ray, the greater the likelihood of IVDD recurrence.
The good news is that surgery for the second episode is just as effective as it is for the first.