The vet has just given the diagnosis you fear most: IVDD. Your mind has gone blank, you feel overwhelmed. You’re not sure what to do or who to turn to. What next?
Nothing is more vital than the professional and expert care you that you will receive from your vet during the weeks and months that follow such a diagnosis. But, what about your personal and emotional needs? Dachshund IVDD Support Australia (DISA) talk to us about their community and how they provide support, strategies to cope and useful information if your pupper has been diagnosed with IVDD.
Tell us a little about Dachshund IVDD Support Australia – DISA
DISA is an Australia wide non-partisan educational and support organisation dedicated to the future health, welfare and integrity of dachshunds. Its primary focus is to educate in order to broaden awareness about IVDD, which is now one of the biggest health issues within the breed. We are also an incorporated NFP organisation with a Committee of Management of seven.
What type of services does DISA provide to the community?
We are a volunteer organisation of dachshund owners who have either personally experienced IVDD with our own pets, or are passionate about the breed and helping to educate other owners about IVDD. DISA offer online support and sharing of knowledge for all dachshund owners and particularly those who are experiencing IVDD for the first time. There are many member services off-line too, including crate sale/hire, emergency crate kits for sale, support and guidance via the phone and even in person, and the sale of essential IVDD products such as belly bands and drag bags.
DISA aims to:
- Provide support, guidance, assistance, information and education to dachshund owners about IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease).
- Advocate for the education of dachshund owners in the awareness of IVDD and the management and treatment options available.
- Liaise with veterinary surgeons, specialists, allied services and likeminded individuals and agencies to promote IVDD awareness.
- Ultimately be at the forefront in the race for a cure for IVDD.
How do you receive funding to provide these services?
We are a volunteer organisation that operates solely on the generosity of donations. We run various fundraisers throughout the year, and also collect a small profit on the sale of IVDD related products. Our committee members are voluntary and many of our suppliers donate their time and skills.
We understand that vets provide a vital role for the diagnosis, treatment and care of dogs. We also understand the importance of connecting people who have a shared experience. What type of support forums can you recommend?
Our Facebook support group is the premier source of recommendations for specialist IVDD providers. We have members from all over the country that have shared which providers have worked for them. We maintain a list of recommended providers which is available on our Facebook page and coming website.
Our support group is not only a place of shared knowledge, but also an invaluable source for moral support. It is a place for people to come together to celebrate success and also motivate each other to stay strong and maintain hope.
There are lots of great IVDD resources available on the Internet. DISA has tailored their resources to Australian dachshund owners and not to reinvent the wheel have also affiliated with Dodgerslist & K9 Backpack (US) and the Dachshund Breeders Council (UK).
Extended crate rest is an important part of the treatment of back injuries and IVDD, which can be difficult for both the dog and owner. What tips can you share to assist with this recovery period?
Our best tip is to crate train your dog as early as possible. Often we hear the heartbreaking stories of people at their wits end because it is their dogs first time in a crate and it howls and cries to be let out. Teach your dog that the crate is a happy safe place so that if extended crate rest is required it will be a much more manageable experience.
We also recommend getting your hands on a pet or baby stroller so that you can easily bring your dog from room to room with you. They are also at a higher level which makes them feel like the royals they are! Having a pet stroller also means you can provide stimulation by taking him or her out for daily walks while maintaining the strict restriction of movement that is required.
A little relaxing wine for the humans also comes highly recommended!
Beyond surgery, what supplies are likely to be required to assist a patient recovering from IVDD?
Patience, patience, and more patience.
A secure crate with just enough room for them to be comfortable but not so big that it can walk around. Restricting movement is critical.
Vital supplies for the initial crate rest period is a very supportive good quality pet bed/mattress to go into the crate.
You will also need extra blankets as they will be in there 24/7 and will quickly loose freshness. If the dog is incontinent there may also be bladder leakage, so a stack of used towels will also be useful.
Towels are also useful to assist with physiotherapy exercises and as a sling for assisted walking.
You will need a raised water bowl to go into the crate to prevent stretching of the back and neck.
Keeping them happy and occupied is the hardest part, so try and collect some fun chewy toys (try to avoid calorie-rich treats as their activity will be very minimal.
Can you tell us about any success stories from your community?
We have sadly witnessed many people joining our group that have just had an IVDD diagnosis for their pet and they have no idea what to do next. There is almost always someone online any hour of the day or night there to support that person and offer advice and a shoulder to cry on.
Our members are incredible for sharing tips and suggestions to help dogs recovering from IVDD. Our belly bands are a wonderful example of this! One person came across these and found how incredibly life-saving they are and our members got on board to help refine the design to be a perfect accessory to IVDD dogs. It was a similar story with our drag bags also perfected with the input of our members.
Other success stories include members obtaining a second opinion at the recommendation of our group, and by doing so receiving more complete advice and options for their dogs. IVDD is not a death sentence and it is imperative that you find a team of specialists that understand the options for and IVDD dog.
What are your top tips for people who have a concern about IVDD?
It is imperative to learn the early warning signs. Print off the list available on our Facebook page and stick it on the fridge for easy access. If a dog falls victim to a disc prolapse, recognising the symptoms and getting them to specialist vet services is critical for the long term prognosis and recover.
Many people have described a feeling of “brain freeze” when they hear the dreaded diagnosis. The more you know about IVDD and treatment options, the better equipped you will be to cope if your dog goes down.
Our group is also here to patiently remind you that there are proven methods of recovery and what you need to do!
There are some preventative measures you should undertake to minimise controllable risks of IVDD. You should very carefully maintain your dog’s weight. Train your dog early not to jump up and down from furniture, and not to use stairs. Installing ramps up to furniture is an easy way to reduce the risk of disc injury. Practice the dachshund mantra “4 paws on the floor!”
How can people assist DISA to provide ongoing support to the community?
We run various fundraisers throughout the year including our annual wine fundraiser which is coming up in the next few weeks. The wines are hand selected by our committee under the guidance of the winemaker. The labels are professionally designed and add a touch of class to any dinner table or weekend tipple.
You can also help us to help other by purchasing products that the group has for sale such as belly bands and drag bags.
What is the best way for people to get in touch DISA?
Our Facebook page is open for all to join and gain knowledge and understanding of IVDD.
We also have a Facebook support group which people can request to join. This is a forum to gain further education, and support from other dachshund owners and IVDD pawrents.
You can contact us directly through the Facebook page using the “message” facility.
In the very near future DISA will also be launching a fantastic website which will be a one stop shop for all things IVDD www.ivdd.org.au
You can support DISA during the month of September by purchasing a personalised #weensforwheels ID tag. And, please be sure to contact DISA directly if you are able to provide any additional support to the community.
Want further information? Read our article by Dr Claire: Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Your Questions Answered