In a survey among Dachshund owners on our Facebook Group, only half the IVDD cases were correctly diagnosed by their general practice vet on first presentation. Shockingly, a quarter of vets incorrectly diagnosed the problem, for example saying it was muscle pain, arthritis or a stomach problem. A further quarter of vets were unsure about the symptoms at first examination.
The problem with this is that a delay in identifying an IVDD incident may increase the risk of a more serious herniation leading to paralysis. A delay of 24 hours could mean the difference between your dog getting the right treatment (surgery in some cases) and ending up paralysed.
An excellent paper was published in the veterinary In Practice Journal in 2019, written by Dr Marianne Dorn. It describes veterinary management of Dachshunds with back problems, including diagnostic approaches and treatment options. You can download the paper (for personal, educational use only) from Marianne's website.
Some vets may not be familiar with the IVDD clinical grading scale, treatment options or prognosis. IVDD cannot be diagnosed with a blood test or with ordinary X-rays. As a minimum, it requires clinical grading 1-5. A myelogram X-ray can detect spinal cord compression but an MRI scan is preferable. Potentially, they may advise having your dog euthanised; a course of action that really should only ever be a last resort.
We will be creating some resources for vets to help them with the diagnosis of IVDD and the treatment options.
Next time you visit your vet for routine treatment, make sure you ask about their experience of diagnosing and treating a Dachshund with IVDD. Direct them to this website for more information.