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  • 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.

    The Procedure

    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

    • Infection

    • Paralysis

    • Bad Reaction to Anesthesia or other Drugs

    Post-surgical Care

    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



      { 13 comments… read them below or add one }

      Belle May 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      My 7 year old doxi had surgery this past Tuesday morning. We were told that she had an 80% chance to walk again. The surgeon said she is recovering pretty good. Showing some right side weakness but has movement. She comes home tomorrow. I am scared to death of hurting her. Does anyone have advise as to how soon after surgery you were able to pick them up and hold them? Were you able to hold them normal or always horizontal?


      Suz May 22, 2015 at 12:09 am

      I’ve been holding my dog horizontally since his surgery, and we barely picked him up the months after the surgery. Try to get Ramps for even the smallest steps.


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      Suz February 17, 2014 at 4:03 am

      My dog was crying about his back. Whenever you would touch it, he would cry, so we took him to the vet the day after this pain started, and she took radiographs and it turns out he has this disc disease. He is currently on steroids, pain and muscle relaxant medication until we go back for a follow up with the vet in a week. Today he was crying a lot and I’m scared if he’ll be okay :( he’s only three!


      Danielle Mattingly January 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Curious to know the outcome of your pup mine is now going through it


      Suz January 31, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      He actually had to go through the surgery! But after the recovery process, he’s good as new haha! I hope your puppy does well, and be sure to find a good surgeon in your area.


      Chuck March 14, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Suz, could you give me a ballpark number as to the cost of the surgery? My little guy is showing signs.


      Suz March 16, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Aww I’m sorry to hear. It was quite pricy, around 4000 dollars, but honestly, it was all worth it! It’s key that after the surgery you stop your dog from jumping and keep their weight in check so that other surgeries won’t be necessary. Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for their problem to develop again! Best of luck to your furry friend!

      Nan February 12, 2014 at 12:15 am

      My mini had this back surgery January 28th by a neurologist recovering very well. Staples will be removed Thursday with a full recovery expected. She’s been confined to her crate except to go outside. I think this has been the worst part for us not being able to hold her and play with her but she’s raring to get out and play. Our decision for the surgery was easy, she’s 5 years old and very active. I wish all of you prayers for a quick recovery.


      Claire February 22, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Nan, our 4 yr. old mini had surgery last Thursday. We have been standing him and stretching his hips as instructed, but today he has refused to let us strand or stretch him and is keeping his tail tucked very tightly. Have you have any days of physical therapy that don’t go as well as others? He is also having bowel movements and urinating, although not at will. How is your girl coming along in this regard?


      Lydia Lyman January 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      My dog is having this surgery today. The vet said there is a 10% chance that the problems will come back after.


      Stephanie August 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      What are the chances of the condition returning after the surgery?
      We had it done on our Doxie about 1-1/2 years ago and she seems to be having trouble again.


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