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Old 12-16-2015, 02:58 PM
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girlbuffalo1 girlbuffalo1 is offline
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Default IVDD (disc disease) and Agility?

Does anyone here have experience with IVDD or some sort of disc disease issues in their older agility dogs?
My 9 yr old C-ATCH Wrigley just started having trouble. Luckily it is not bad (he can still walk just not jump or climb over things very well)--so surgery is not in the cards yet. Just crate rest, pain meds and anti inflamatory drugs.

I am trying to find information out on if he recovers if continuing agility at a veterans or specialist level is allowable or if I should just already consider him permanently retired?

Does anyone have experience with this?
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Old 12-19-2015, 11:21 AM
busannie busannie is offline
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My 17 yr old dachshund, Annie was hell on wheels until she was over 15 yrs old, she had an episode of IVDD when she was about 7, then again when she was 14 or 15. The first time she had severe neck pain (screaming/falling over when touched, lameness in her left front leg, and general reluctance to move), but she recovered completely after lengthy crate rest (6-8 weeks, don't remember exactly, but it felt like forever) and slow ease back into normal activity over 3-4 months. Because she was always a busy dog, the last few weeks of crate rest were difficult, and long term restrictions weren't really a feasible thing for us, so the goal was to get her back to her normal level of activity. I started giving her adequan about a month into her recovery, and I feel like it helped, as it had been really slow going to that point. Did some swimming as well, and walking in the tub with water deep enough she could barely touch. I think she was back to running/jumping around like a maniac after 6-8 months, but I continued to avoid encouraging things that I thought were likely to cause a problem, and also took a little bit more weight off her, to lessen further the stress on her neck.

The second time she had a problem she was either 14 or newly 15, and she never did get back to 100%, maybe 95, but she still had a little bit of an awkward gait at times. That time, she didn't have nearly as much pain, but she did have some CP deficits in her front feet, to the point that she would sometimes stumble when walking. I think she recovered more quickly that time, though not as completely as the first. She was already not doing as much jumping/high impact activity just due to age, so after about 2 months, I let her do whatever she wanted, and we resumed playing ball not too long after. She hasn't had any acute problems since, though she has considerably less muscle tone now and is sort of loose and wobbly everywhere- I do notice her front feet now occasionally cross over when she goes "fast", but don't know whether that's do to her neck of just general loss of perception.

I guess to summarize, I wouldn't have had any qualms about doing "preferred" level agility with her after her complete recovery from her first episode (she was doing higher demand activities in day to day life already), but it wouldn't have been feasible after the second. It'll just depend on how well he recovers, and whether you are willing to take the risk that comes with increased/higher impact activity. I would just take your time and see how he does, here's hoping for a full recovery!
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:18 PM
busannie busannie is offline
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Wanted to add that I never did agility with her (some backyard stuff for fun when she was young), we did other stuff just to keep her busy that would stress the back/neck similarly or more.

Searching for ball on rocks at 12









Diving for the frisbee at 15! (this was after her 2nd injury, she had already slowed down a hair and been "retired" from strenuous activities by then)


So there is hope, people who saw Annie anytime other than when she was injured and prior to the last year or so when she's gotten pretty decrepit would never have guessed that she'd ever had "back problems". My experience with one dog has been that keeping them active in whatever form they can do once the initial recovery period is over is helpful, and I can't recommend swimming/wading enough to recondition them- worth paying to go someplace if you need to, but for a little dog you could even use your tub.

FWIW, both Annie's IVDD episodes have been due to weekend warrior scenarios, where I took a dog that was "out of shape" (better shape than the average pet, but not really fit for her) and had her do something strenuous. The first time was roadwork with the bike when I hadn't been having time to exercise her much, and the second was a fetch marathon on the first nice day of spring- she was crazy excited and I guess we both overdid it. So, if he does recover fully and go back to agility, make sure to condition him slowly and well.
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Old 12-19-2015, 02:59 PM
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I have no experience with that particular issue, but when I was dealing with a lameness with one of my agility dogs, I did a long day-trip to visit an orthopedic vet who also competes in agility. It was worth it to me to be able to discuss options with someone who knew the sport and the venues and could truly understand the stresses on the body. It might be worth looking for a similar option (or at least a very experienced rehab/ortho vet who has experience the sport dogs) to help you decide how to proceed.
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