Last Updated on April 12, 2022 by Marco C.
Intervertebral disk disease, also known as IVDD, is a painful illness, and IVDD in French Bulldogs is no less common than with other dogs. It’s important to inform yourself about this illness, learn what causes it, how is it treated, and how common it is for it to occur with French Bulldogs.
In today’s article, we’ll be learning all that there is to know about IVDD in French Bulldogs.
What Is IVDD?
Intervertebral disk disease is a condition that your vet will also call a ‘slipped’ disk. In a dog spine (also in human spines) disks are there to absorb shock between vertebrae to protect the spinal cord. These disks can, unfortunately, become dislocated – usually from trauma, but it’s also possible for it to happen from degeneration.
Even though gradual degeneration is more rare, it can happen that the disks degenerate because of obesity, arthritis, and other conditions.
The experience of having IVDD can be mildly painful, but the painful can also become severe. The symptoms can even turn into complete paralysis in the most extreme cases.
Some of the most common symptoms in dogs are stiffness in the neck and in the back, cries of pain when touched on the back, hunched (unhealthy) posture, immobility, avoiding moving in general, dragging a leg or legs when moving, tremors and shaking, convulsions, paralysis.
Obviously, these symptoms are ordered from less to more extreme symptoms.
These symptoms are oddly similar to the symptoms of an adult human suffering from a ruptured disk.
Treatment Of IVDD In Dogs
Depending on how much damage has been dealt with the disk(s), treatment can be something as simple as immobilization and rest, but it can move towards the extreme in the form of surgery. There are also dogs that are, unfortunately, beyond saving and the most humane solution is euthanasia.
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This depends on just how severe this case of IVDD. Your vet will immediately try to control the inflammation and pain with medication before deciding on a long-term plan of treatment.
It’s important to keep a dog caged when they receive anti-inflammatory meds and painkillers. These meds will mask your dog’s symptoms and they won’t be aware that they’re suffering from a dangerous condition. In that state, a dog will try to run around and they’ll only hurt themselves more since their disks are still troubled.
The good news is – that most dogs suffering from IVDD don’t suffer from those extreme symptoms and the prognosis is good in most cases. Most cases of IVDD don’t require surgery and the vet can treat them with the help of the owner who will keep the dog caged during the recovery period.
It’s important to keep track of your dog’s behavior, movement and diet even after solving this problem, though. Obese dogs have a much higher chance of once again developing IVDD.
IVDD In French Bulldogs
Frenchies are, unfortunately, at a greater risk of developing IVDD for several reasons. Firstly, they’re what we know as a chondrodystrophic breed – this means that they have a disorder of cartilage formation. All Bulldogs are chondrodystrophic, just like Dachshunds.
Chondrodystrophy plays a major role in the development of IVDD – as most dogs diagnosed with IVDD are middle-aged dogs in the chondrodystrophic group of breeds.
Obesity plays another important role in the development of IVDD. Obese dogs have much greater chances of developing IVDD, so keeping track of your dog’s diet will prove to be crucial in the future. As we know, Frenchies are prone to obesity (although English Bulldogs are even more prone to it) because of the brachycephalic syndrome they’re suffering from.
There are only a few things you can do to try to ensure that your dog doesn’t develop IVDD. The most important thing is keeping a strict, healthy diet. As we’ve previously explained – obese dogs are much more likely to develop IVDD. Frenchies aren’t exactly known for their physical activity, but make sure to take your dog out at least once a day.
It’s also important to keep track of your dog’s possible pain symptoms. Dogs suffering from IVDD, even if it’s in a small degree, will suffer from stiffness in the back and in the neck – this will cause pain when they try to move.
Keeping track of any changes in your dog’s behavior that could imply that they’re ill in some way is the best way to react on time, which often makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful treatment.
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Can French Bulldogs recover from IVDD?
Yes! Luckily, most dogs can recover from IVDD with great success. However, it also returns in almost 50% of cases, because the owners don't take proper care of the dogs after treatment.
Do all French Bulldogs get IVDD?
No, IVDD is not that common of a condition. To prevent it and make sure that your dog doesn't develop it - keep them on a healthy diet and walk them every day.
What are the signs of IVDD in French Bulldogs?
Stiffness and pain in neck and back, pain when touched on the back, while the dog will also generally avoid movement if possible. The symptoms can also be much more severe, like cramps, paralysis, convulsions, etc.
How do you treat an IVDD French Bulldog?
Usually it's treated through pain management and caging - this will solve most minor cases, as your dog just needs to keep still for a few weeks and let its disks set themselves. More advanced cases need surgery, while the most extreme cases can be unsolvable and might need euthanasia.
IVDD is a serious condition that can occur in dogs, while French Bulldogs are at more risk than many other breeds. However, even though it sounds incredibly dangerous, vets can nowadays take care of it with great success, which is great news for us.
Most cases require pain management through medication and caging your dog to prevent movement (which can lead to them hurting themselves even more). More extreme cases will need surgery and a longer period of rest afterwards. The best way to prevent IVDD is to keep your dog on a healthy diet and exercise regime.