Dachshund back surgery
Back surgery in dachshunds is most often required for treating IVDD (intervertebral disc disease). Dachshunds with IVDD have damaged discs that are not able to absorb the shock in the spine created with movement. The condition is painful, reduces mobility, and can even lead to paralysis. Because the spine cannot regenerate once it is damaged, surgery is often times the only option. In many cases, surgery allows patients to fully recover and increases their quality of life.
Did you know…that the dachshund is considered the national dog in Germany?
Making a Decision
If back surgery is an option, together you and your veterinarian will have to decide if surgery is the best choice for your dachshund. Your dog’s health and the estimated rate of success are two important things that will have to be considered before making a decision. One thing to keep in mind is time; the less time that goes by, the higher the success rate will be for the surgery.
General Veterinary Practicioner vs. Veterinary Specialist
Another important decision you have to make is whether the surgery will be done by a specialist or a general veterinary practitioner. Most veterinarians without the proper training or certification refer patients to a specialist for back surgery. The specialist can be either a board-certified neurologist (ACVIM) or a board-certified orthopedic surgeon (AVCS). It is true, that surgery carried out by a specialist is more expensive; however, they are qualified to do the surgery and are up to date on the latest technology. In some cases, general veterinarians will offer to do the surgery in order to save their client money. Doing this is not recommended but ultimately it is your choice.
Blood work is necessary before any surgery; it gives doctors an idea on how the major organs (liver, kidneys, etc.) are working. How do organs such as the kidneys or liver play a role in surgery? These organs are responsible for processing the anesthesia during and after the surgery. If these organs are not in good shape, the risks of going under anesthesia become bigger. Blood work also checks for anemia, infections, and other health conditions that may put the patient at a higher risk for surgery.
Radiographs will also be taken of the spine before surgery. The surgeon will need the x-rays in order to plan the procedure and to be able to compare with the x-rays after the surgery. It will also give him a good idea of where the problem is and allow him to refer to the images throughout the surgery. An MRI, myelography, and CT scan may also be ordered.
Preparing for Surgery
Fasting is required before any surgery. If the surgery is to take place in the morning, no food should be given the night before. This will reduce the risk of your dog vomiting while he is under anesthesia.
Before the surgery your doxy will likely be given a combination of drugs which includes; tranquilizer, pain medication, and medication for salivation. This pre-anesthetic is typically given to help reduce anxiety in dogs and to minimize salivation that certain anesthetics can cause.
General anesthesia is always used for back surgery in dogs. During the procedure the surgeon will make a large incision on the back, and either repair or remove the damaged disks. Parts of the vertebrae near the damaged disk may also be removed.
While the prognosis for dogs with IVDD after the surgery is usually good, there are still some risks involved. These surgical risks include;
• Excess Bleeding
• Bad Reaction to Anesthesia or other Drugs
Cage rest is necessary after the surgery; your veterinarian will tell you how long it is necessary for. Antibiotics, pain medication, and anti-inflammatory drugs need to be given as directed. Follow-ups will be required so that your vet. can evaluate your dachshund’s progress and determine when the sutures need to be removed. If the surgery site becomes inflamed, bleeds, or opens take your dog to the vet. as soon as possible.
Deciding whether back surgery is the right choice for your dachshund is difficult. Talking to your family and getting a second opinion from another veterinarian or specialist may be helpful. Back surgery has its’ risks, but in many cases it has proven to be a life-saver.
Richards DVM, M. Clark’s Fast Facts: Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). Cyberport. Retrieved August 5, 2012, http://users.cyberport.net/~milnerwm/fastfacts.html
Isaacs DVM, ACVIM, A. Answers About IVDD Surgery. Dodgerslist. Retrieved August 5, 2012, from http://www.dodgerslist.com/literature/surgery.htm