You know you love your dog when you trade your fluffy mattress for the hard floor. That’s right. Somewhere in the middle of the night I moved from my ridiculously comfortable Beauty Rest to the hard floor NEXT to my gigantic king bed. Out of the blue last night, Chuy had an IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) flare up.
After we noticed he was in pain, we gave him his medication and off to lala land he went. He started the night cozy and quiet in his crate. Somehow in my Ambien induced sleep coma, I woke up to hear him whining and pawing at the crate. After taking him to pee and giving him water, I realized it was because he wanted to be next to me but he couldn’t even bare to use the ramp to get on the bed. This dog and I have serious attachment issues and I’m not ashamed to admit that! #MyLittleShadow
So what do you do when your dog wakes you up at 4am? You stumble out of bed with your blanket and pillows and set up a pallet on the hard wood floor so that you can sleep next to your dog’s bed. Duh. Whining stopped. Sleep coma restarted. Mission accomplished.
The time in between IVDD flare ups keeps getting shorter which just breaks my heart.
Chuy just celebrated his 6th birthday on Monday but we’ve been dealing with this for the past couple of years now. The last flare up happened back in February 2015. I actually remember it was during the Super Bowl because instead of sitting on the couch, I watched the game from the floor so I could sit next to Chuy while he laid on his heating pad inside of the crate. Do you see a pattern here?!
Last night he let out a brain piercing yelp when he tried to get on the couch. Then we noticed he was limping and hiding in the corner. Classic signs of back pain. It’s so hard to see him like that because he knows he’s in pain but otherwise he is perfectly healthy. Unfortunately but fortunately we know exactly how to manage and treat his IVDD flare ups because it’s happened multiple times. I used to run out to the vet each time but now I know what to look for and how to treat it at home. If Chuy is in obvious pain I always make sure that it’s not neurological and that he can also use the bathroom with no problems. I want to share my tips with you in case your dog might be going through the same thing.
Disclaimer: I’m not a vet. I don’t even play one on TV. I’m just a girl that is overly attached to her Chihuahua and will do anything possible to make sure he is taken care of. These are things I’ve learned from my vet and from years of experience dealing with a dog that has IVDD. Consult with your vet! #BackToThePost
1. Educate Yourself about IVDD
I have been guilty of blaming myself or trying to figure out what I did wrong to cause this. With each flare up, the chatter in my head goes something like this:
- Should I have let him jump on the couch?
- We must have walked too much yesterday.
- I shouldn’t let Chuy chase bunnies in the back yard.
- We shouldn’t have gone kayaking.
The truth is that these things happen and you are not to blame! The best thing you can do is to stop the pity party and start educating yourself. YES, you should limit certain things in between flare ups but a dog wants to be a dog!
The first time your dog has a flare up, get to the vet. Ask them a million questions. I’m serious. I come with a notebook and I take full advantage of that in-office fee! That is what they are there for. You should never leave that office until you feel 100% confident with the answers and information you need. If you aren’t, get a second opinion. I’ve had Chuy seen by three different vets including a surgeon. Now that this has happened multiple times, I know what to do and what to look for. I can now treat it at home without having to head to the vet each time.
Arm yourself with information. Guys, I read . . . a lot. Knowledge is power. Find other bloggers, websites, and dog owners that you can connect with that are going through the same thing. Here are a few resources to start with:
- Dodgerslist – This is a HUGE resource for dog’s with IVDD
- What is IVDD? by WiggleLess
- Managing a Dog with IVDD by Fidose of Reality
- Feeding Dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease by petMD
- Tips For Dogs Living with IVDD
- There is HOPE for Dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease
2. The Trifecta Effect
Yea, Science! I love an all-natural remedy just as much as the crunchies do . . .but science and medicine actually do work and sometimes they are necessary. Our vet prescribed a “trifecta” medication treatment plan that we give Chuy when he has a flare up. Your vet may prescribe something different but this is what’s been working for Chuy:
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory [NSAIDs] (Metacam)
Per our vet, an anti-inflammatory is the most important RX to give when this happens. This helps to immediately alleviate the pain and inflammation.
- Muscle Relaxer (Methocarbamol)
This helps calm and prevent any muscle spasms which are very common with disc pain.
- Pain Killer (Tramadol)
Well, Captain Obvious, this kills the pain.
3. Strict Crate Rest
I cannot stress how important strict crate rest is with IVDD! During a flare up, Chuy must stay in his crate and he only comes out to eat and use the bathroom. That means NO jumping, no steps, and no walks! This is so hard because after a day or two when he is starting to feel better, he doesn’t seem to understand why he can’t follow me everywhere or sleep in the bed. Be sure to check out my post Five Benefits of Crate Training a Chihuahua for more information on using a crate.
I also recommend putting a heating pad under your dogs blanket inside the crate. NEVER do this if you need to leave your dog unattended! I only do this when I’m in the same room with Chuy.
4. Use a Dog Ramp or Dog Steps
During an actual flare up, your dog shouldn’t be jumping or climbing on anything. However, you’ll need to start finding ways to reduce the impact on their spine. Last year my husband and I DIY’d a dog ramp for Chuy to get on and off our bed. It has really helped alleviate a lot of shock to his back. We also have a pair of doggie steps for the couch but he hates using those. Not sure why.
5. Wear a Back Brace
During one of Chuy’s flare ups, I started chatting on Twitter and met Lisa, the founder and creator of the Wiggleless Back Brace. She was such a doll and sent me a Wiggleless Back Brace to try. This thing is awesome! The brace keeps Chuy’s back straight and aligned. and it forces him to go slower and literally Wiggle Less!! Definitely head over and check out my review for more info on this.
IVDD is quite common in Chihuahuas and other small breeds. It’s really hard to watch your baby be in pain BUT this is manageable and it’s still possible for them to live a long and healthy life! Chuy is a DOG and I want him to live a fun and irresistible life as a DOG. Our vet assured us that it’s ok for him to still chase bunnies in the yard. I can’t confine him to a crate 24/7 when he’s feeling great. What kind of life would that be? Chuy is an active dog and he loves to live life. I swear this little guy is my inspiration because even with a hurt back, he still tries and he never gives up hope. Now THAT is living an irresistible life.
Let’s Talk About It!
Do you have a dog with IVDD? What tips or advice can you share? Leave them in the comments below!
If you have a dog that suffers from IVDD please check out our other blog posts:
- DIY Dog Ramp
- Wiggleless Dog Back Brace Review
- An Update on Chuy’s IVDD Flare Up
- Five Benefits of Crate Training Your Chihuahua