Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a significant health concern in Basset Hounds, characterized by the degeneration and herniation of the intervertebral discs that cushion the vertebrae in the spinal column. This condition can lead to pain, nerve damage, and in severe cases, paralysis.
IVDD in Basset Hounds, like in other chondrodystrophic breeds (breeds with a genetic predisposition to early disc degeneration), is often due to a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. These dogs have alterations in the normal structure of their spinal discs, making them more susceptible to disc herniation and subsequent spinal cord compression.
Symptoms of IVDD in Basset Hounds can vary widely but typically include pain or hypersensitivity, especially along the spine, reluctance or difficulty in moving, lameness, incoordination (ataxia), paralysis of the hind limbs, and incontinence. Dogs may exhibit a hunched back or neck, reluctance to jump, and may cry out in pain when moved or touched.
Diagnosing IVDD involves a thorough physical and neurological examination by a veterinarian, often complemented by diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. These imaging tests are crucial for confirming the presence of disc herniation and assessing the extent of spinal cord compression.
Treatment for IVDD in Basset Hounds depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may be managed conservatively with strict rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and pain relief. More severe cases, especially those involving significant spinal cord compression or paralysis, may require surgical intervention to decompress the spinal cord and stabilize the affected segments of the spine.
Surgical treatments aim to remove the herniated disc material that is compressing the spinal cord. Post-surgery, rehabilitation, including physical therapy and possibly hydrotherapy, is critical for recovery. Dogs with mild to moderate IVDD can have a good prognosis if treated early and appropriately. However, dogs with severe IVDD, especially those that have lost deep pain sensation before surgery, may have a more guarded prognosis.
Preventive measures for IVDD in Basset Hounds include maintaining a healthy weight to reduce strain on the spine, avoiding activities that involve high impact on the back such as jumping from heights, and using harnesses instead of neck collars to decrease pressure on the neck and spine. Regular, moderate exercise can also help strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, although it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for personalized advice based on the dog’s health and risk factors.
- Fitzpatrick Referrals: www.fitzpatrickreferrals.co.uk
- Basset Hound Club of America: basset-bhca.org
- Vet Record: bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com
- K9 Backpack: www.k9backpack.com (includes emergency information on what to do now if you suspect your dog has IVDD)
Additional Reading on IVDD:
Basset Hounds and Dachshunds share very similar bodies and both breeds are predisposed to IVDD. An organization in the UK called Dachshund Health have conducted scientific research into IVDD and has many studies and research papers available to read online at https://www.dachshund-ivdd.uk/ which are also relevant to Basset Hounds.
IVDD is a complex condition with significant implications for affected dogs and their owners. Early recognition of symptoms, prompt veterinary care, and appropriate management or surgical intervention are crucial for the best outcomes. With careful attention to prevention and early intervention, many dogs with IVDD can continue to live happy, fulfilling lives.