Liberty the Dachshund's IVDD Journey & How Dog Ramps Have Helped

Preventing IVDD in Dachshunds - Can Dog Ramps Help?

Meet Liberty - a 5-year-old Piebald Dachshund living her life to the fullest in the sunny state of California. Raised in Alaska, Liberty is no stranger to adventure, but she loves spending time in her favorite indoor hangout spots as well.

Liberty is also an IVDD Survivor. 

In March of 2021, Liberty suddenly started losing mobility in her back legs and was immediately taken to see her vet. She was quickly transferred into a neurologist’s care and had surgery the very same day.

Fortunately, with lots of patience, rest, and love, Liberty was able to make a full recovery.

In this post, we’ve partnered with Liberty’s paw-rents, Kyle and Kaitlyn McClelland. By sharing Liberty’s story, we hope to raise awareness about IVDD in Dachshunds and highlight the benefits of dog ramps for this beloved breed.

What is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and How Common is IVDD in Dachshunds?

Before jumping into Liberty’s story, we feel that it’s important to review “what is IVDD?” and why it’s necessary for Dachshund owners to be aware of this spinal condition. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease, frequently referred to as IVDD, is a degenerative spinal disease that commonly affects dog breeds with longer bodies and short legs (formally known as chondrodystrophic breeds). While dogs such as Corgis, Basset Hounds, and French Bulldogs are susceptible to developing this neurological disorder, IVDD impacts nearly 25% of Dachshunds. This means that IVDD affects Dachshunds more than any other dog breed. In fact, Dachshunds account for 45%-70% of all diagnosed IVDD cases.

Like human spines, dogs also have discs between their vertebrae. These discs function as shock absorbers for the spine. IVDD occurs when the outer layers of these discs begin to harden and lose their elasticity over time. This makes it easier for discs to bulge or burst. 

When a disc bulges or bursts, it can begin compressing a dog’s spinal cord. This can lead to unsteadiness, severe pain, weakened legs, and even paralysis. What’s more is that treating Intervertebral Disc Disease often involves intensive and expensive surgeries and/or months of recovery.

Unfortunately, IVDD often goes undetected until a disc bulges or ruptures, which for chondrodystrophic breeds, can be triggered by a hard impact or injury sustained from a day-to-day activity like using stairs, wrestling, or jumping:

IVDD Episode Diagram - A Bulging Disc Compresses a Dog's Spinal Cord

That’s why it’s important to provide dogs prone to IVDD with an impact-free alternative to jumping should they enjoy spending time on couches and beds. 

Liberty’s IVDD Journey

Liberty is a spunky and energetic Doxie. She has always been a pup that enjoys adventure and being on the move. 

Liberty the Dachshund enjoying a hike by the lake in Alaska

Liberty taking in the scenery on a hike in Alaska (2017).

So when she refused to get up from the couch late one evening in March of 2021, her paw-rents instinctively felt that something wasn’t right.

They carefully picked her up and carried her outdoors where she laid on the grass. That’s when Kyle and Kaitlyn noticed that Liberty had suddenly lost function in her back legs. 

As a vet assistant, Kaitlyn took Liberty into the clinic where she worked and the Doxie was immediately sent to see a neurologist in San Diego.

An MRI confirmed that one of Liberty's discs was compressing 90% of her spinal cord and she was admitted into surgery the very same day. Kyle and Kaitlyn were extremely worried about their pup, but trusted the veterinary team and knew Liberty was one strong Dachshund.

After her surgery, Liberty was required to stay at the hospital for 2 days before being able to return home. 

Even though the surgery had been a success, Liberty would still have a challenging recovery ahead of her.

Liberty the Dachshund after her IVDD Surgery

Liberty after her IVDD surgery. In order to operate on her disc, the veterinary team had to make an incision down her back.

IVDD Surgery Recovery

Making sure that Liberty was getting the rest she needed was the hardest part of her recovery journey. As a lively little Dachshund, Liberty found it tough to take things slow. Kaitlyn and Kyle had to remain vigilant to make sure that she wasn’t over-exerting herself.

Liberty the Dachshund IVDD Recovery - Crate Rest

While recovering from her IVDD surgery, Liberty was still able to enjoy the sunshine with the help of her portable crate.

Fortunately, Liberty began regaining control of her back legs and started walking within a handful of days after returning home.

As an energetic and determined pup, Liberty was able to make a full recovery and is currently back to enjoying her favorite activities with her paw-rents and Doxie siblings, Justice and Holly. 

Preventing IVDD in Dachshunds?

As a genetic condition, there is no way to prevent Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dachshunds and other chondrodystrophic breeds.

Thankfully, there are precautions Dachshund owners can take to minimize the chances of their Doxie experiencing an IVDD episode, such as keeping their dog fit and at a healthy weight, preventing stair use, and providing an impact-free alternative to jumping.

If your Doxie enjoys spending time on the couch or bed, indoor dog ramps are an easy and effective way of giving your Dachshund the ability to freely and safely get to and from their favorite hangout spots.

Even before welcoming Liberty into their home, the McClellands researched the long-bodied breed and learned how important it is to prevent Dachshunds from jumping.

They initially tested out pet stairs, but quickly discovered that they didn’t work too well for Liberty. They began searching for a high-quality dog ramp, which is when they found DoggoRamps and they’ve been enjoying them ever since.

A Dachshund resting on her dog ramp in front of the bed

Liberty's DoggoRamps Small Bed Ramp also doubles as a hangout spot.

Liberty has been using both her Couch Ramp and Small Bed Ramp for 4 years now and loves them. Her paw-rent, Kyle, shared:

“[After her surgery, ramps have] been a necessity for her to live a life back to normal. It has been a little over a year since her surgery and DoggoRamps are a way of life in our home more than ever.”

Today, Liberty enjoys hanging out with her Doxie siblings, Justice (4-years-old) and Holly (12-years-old). 

Kyle and Kaitlyn McClelland continue to use their Instagram profile to share daily life with their animals, including their Dachshunds, chickens, and cockatoos, and educate about pet care.

Dachshunds enjoying their DoggoRamps Dog Ramps

Liberty, Justice, and Holly all enjoying their DoggoRamps.

The DoggoRamps Team wants to extend a huge thank you to Kyle and Kaitlyn for giving us the opportunity to share Liberty’s story.

To follow Liberty’s adventures and to learn more about her life as an IVDD Survivor, make sure to visit her Instagram profile

And to find the perfect dog ramp for your pup, check out:

-The DoggoTeam

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