This one’s for Kim, who never calls me back

Our dog, Coco, has been having some back problems lately. This is not completely unexpected, because when we “rescued” her nearly four years ago, she was on strict crate-rest after a back injury. Over the years, she’s had some trouble with one of her front paws, but now I’m wondering if she wasn’t having problems with her back. She’s now around 11 years old, and is the most roly-poly of the bunch.

Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is an unfortunate, yet often common, predisposition for dachshunds. This disease causes calcification of the cartilage between the vertebrae, which can lead to a complete rupture of one or more of the vertebra. Often, this rupture causes paralysis from the point of the rupture, leaving their back legs useless. If this rupture occurs, and you get your dog to a qualified surgeon within 24 hours, often their disks can be fenestrated and your dog has a good chance of regaining some of all use of his legs, after a long recovery. The surgery costs upwards of $1,000.

Luckily, Coco hasn’t had any paralysis so far. She started crying when we would pick her up to help her down from the bed, or to bring her in from outside. The first time this happened, I took her to the vet and he found the point on her back that was causing her trouble. He gave her a shot of an anti-inflammatory and sent us home with more anti-inflammatories to give her for a week. After a couple of days, she seemed to be her old self again, so we breathed a sigh of relief. About a week and a half later, something went very wrong when I was picking her up to go outside. She just kept crying and crying and I felt more helpless than I’ve ever felt. Of course, it was a Sunday, so we just tried to make her as comfortable as possible in her crate until we could get into the vet’s on Monday.

I took her in for X-rays that Monday and the vet called to say that there was definitely some calcification of her spine, but that she didn’t seem to have displaced or ruptured any of her vertebrae. This confirmed his earlier hunch that she had IVDD. He gave her the same shot as before and sent home more pills. When I came to pick her up, the vet who showed me her X-rays pointed out three different areas of calcification. Uh-oh.

This time, I researched IVDD as much as possible on the Internet, and found some great resources. I’ve been trying to be strict and keep Coco in her crate as much as possible, but she is just so miserable in there!

Tim and I have always been big believers in letting our dogs be dogs. Some dachshund owners never let their dogs jump onto or off of furniture, go down stairs or other super-fun dog things. We’ve always just let them do what they liked (within reason, I suppose) and hoped for the best. But with Coco, I really need to keep in mind that her crate-rest (which should last six weeks, ideally) is only temporary and will allow her to get back to being a dog, for a lot longer.