Top 20 Tips To Prevent IVDD Episodes In Dogs

In this post, you will learn the top 20 tips to prevent IVDD episodes. When you get an IVDD diagnosis it becomes clear very quickly that you need to look at better ways to manage daily life with your IVDD dog.

Also, if you have a dog that has not been diagnosed with IVDD but is a breed that is prone to the condition this is for you!

It’s never too late or too early to get started!

20 Tips To Prevent an IVDD Episode

Detailed explanation with examples below. 

  1. Discourage Jumping
  2. Limit | Avoid Stairs
  3. Laser Therapy is Effective for IVDD
  4. Keep Nails Trimmed
  5. Feed a Fresh, Nutritionally Complete, Species-Appropriate Diet
  6. Use a High-Quality Joint Supplement
  7. Feed/Supplement Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  8. Use Non-Slip Mats
  9. Limit Your Dogs Toxic Load
  10. Don’t Over-Vaccinate
  11. Use a Harness vs. a Collar
  12. Use Orthopedic Bed(s)
  13. Raise Food Bowls
  14. Maintain a Healthy Weight
  15. Use Crates, Gates, and Ramps
  16. Get Moderate Exercise
  17. Invest in a Dog Stroller
  18. Feed Foods with Natural Anti-Inflammatory’s
  19. Use Grippers (non-slip socks)
  20. Use a Sleeping Crate | Dedicated Sleeping Area

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FREE Guide “20 Tips to Prevent an IVDD Episode!”

Here are the top 20 Tips to prevent IVDD episodes in Detail:

1. Discourage Jumping

On and off furniture, for food or treats and when greeting people.  Some dogs are born jumpers. Don’t give up you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Discourage jumping to prevent IVDD episodes

Discourage jumping to prevent IVDD episodes

Jumping is one of the most potentially destructive things for your dogs back, regardless if they have IVDD or not!

If you are not able to train your dog not to jump there are plenty of professional dog trainers who can help with this.

2. Limit | Avoid Stairs

Avoid stairs to prevent IVDD episodes

Limit or Avoid Stairs to prevent IVDD Episodes

Stairs are a very bad idea for dogs with a compromised back.  Especially for dogs with short legs, long backs, and ones who have been diagnosed with IVDD.

There is always a way around the stairs dilemma! Find one that works for your family. Get creative. When in doubt, don’t do stairs!

Did you know laser therapy is effective for preventing IVDD episodes?

Did you know laser therapy is effective for preventing IVDD episodes?

3. Laser Therapy is Effective for IVDD 

Also known as LLLT (Low-Level Laser Therapy) or Cold Laser Therapy is very effective for treating IVDD. It is effective for both acute episodes and as a preventative treatment.

Laser therapy helps with pain and inflammation. At a deeper level, it helps to heal IVDD injury sites. Also, it provides healing benefits with sites that may become problems that have not yet developed.

Laser therapy for IVDD Dogs can be used as a complementary treatment (with other therapies) or a standalone treatment (as a single therapy method).

For more information on Laser Therapy don’t miss these articles on our blog:

3 Instances: Laser Therapy is Effective in IVDD Dogs

Laser Therapy for IVDD Dogs: Best Protocols

4. Keep Nails Trimmed

Keeping nails trimmed is extremely important for maintaining a good healthy back posture.

Long nails change a dog’s posture and can hurt an already compromised back. Or cause problems where none exist.

Long nails can also be painful just at the site itself and cause a dog to lose traction, making it easier for them to slip and fall, causing additional pain/injury over and above nail pain at the site of the foot.

Keep nails trimmed to prevent IVDD episodes

Keep nails trimmed to prevent IVDD episodes

Finding a good groomer who knows what they are doing and will also take care of your dogs back is important.

There are techniques in nail trimming that will facilitate less frequent trims. By cutting at a slight angle the quick will recede faster and the nail won’t grow as fast. Using this method to get the quick to recede allows for a better trim!

I found a local groomer for Isabella who does at-home grooming.  We have been using Happy at Home Pets for over a year now and we love her!!!  I highly recommend her to anyone who lives in my area. She is very busy, not sure if she is taking on new clients currently.

5. Feed a Fresh, Nutritionally Complete, Species Appropriate Diet

Feeding a fresh food diet goes a long way in preventing and managing many disease processes. It’s never too late to get started!

Even if you can only feed fresh food some of the time this is better than none of the time. Dive in and start learning one day at a time. That’s what I did and here we are five years in feeding a fresh diet.

This has really paid off for us! It has changed Isabella’s life! It has also changed my life because when she is doing better I’m doing better.

When I fed kibble we were at the vet all the time (every month or every other month with one issue or another that we could never really quite put a finger on!). Now we do semi-annual checkups!

Feed a Fresh, Nutritionally Complete, Species Appropriate Diet to prevent IVDD episodes

Feed a Fresh, Nutritionally Complete, Species Appropriate Diet to prevent IVDD episodes

There are a few recipes you can get started with on my recipe page.  And you can also find additional resources regarding creating balanced recipes at home, on my resource page.

Good Reasons NOT to Feed Kibble if Possible

There are so many good reasons NOT to feed Kibble. I’m not going to get into them all here. Think of a kibble diet as us eating fast food every day of our lives. Bad news right!

  1. On average there are 30-60% carbohydrates in even the best quality kibble. Most are on the higher end of the average. Carbs convert to sugar. Sugar is toxic and dangerous for dogs. It is for people too.
  2. Kibble is heated at very high temperatures denaturing the protein, making once healthy proteins more difficult for your dog or cat to digest.
  3. Vitamin loss occurs from the high temperatures (extrusion process) needed to form the kibble. So basically there is minimul nutrition left in the food. That is why kibble manufacturers have to then load the kibble with ‘synthetic vitamins’.  Just not healthy.
  4. As soon as you open your bag of kibble fats start to go rancid this causes inflammation. Rancid fats reduce the protein content, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the kibble.

6. Use a High-Quality Joint Supplement

A joint supplement is a very good idea for any senior dog, dogs with multiple types of back issues including arthritis and IVDD.

The average age of a senior dog is 8 years, toy breeds 10-12 and giant breeds 5-6 years. Osteoarthritis will affect one out of five dogs during their lifetime.

After trying several joint supplements, I finally found one that is highly effective and Isabella tolerates well.

Actistatin® Small Bites Canine Joint Supplement for Dogs

Actistatin® Small Bites Canine Joint Supplement for Dogs

Read more about joint supplements in my article Most Effective Joint Supplement for Dogs: Actistatin®.

7.  Feed or Supplement Omega 3 Fatty Acids 

Omega 3’s help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a major contributing factor in many disease processes, such as osteoarthritis and IVDD (Intervertebral Disk Disease).

*Dosage for Dogs: Healthy dogs can be given 10 to 15 mg EPA/DHA combined per pound of body weight daily (or 100 to 150 mg respectively per 10 lbs) as per Mary Strauss from DogAware

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsules

8.  Use Non-Slip Mats

A quick and inexpensive solution to protect your IVDD/senior dog from slipping in high use areas of your home.

Locations to consider placing them are next to your dogs’ bed on the floor so they don’t go flying when they are getting up and at feeding areas.

9. Limit Your Dogs Toxic Load

Choose natural vs. toxic. It’s that simple. One example is to choose an amber tick and flea collar vs. “spot-on” or “oral” toxic flea and tick treatments.

This is just one example there are literally 100’s of things you can consider here that will work for your dog.  Find some today!

By minimizing your dogs’ toxic load you set her up to have a healthy immune system, which will contribute to preventing unwanted disease processes in the body.

Reduce your dogs toxic load to prevent IVDD episodes

Reduce your dog’s toxic load to prevent IVDD episodes

This will go a long way in the health and well being of your dog. The more you can decrease your dogs’ toxic load the better! Every bit helps! Start with one thing at a time.

10. Don’t Over-Vaccinate

Over vaccination puts a dog’s immune system into over-drive and makes them sick. The name of this condition is called “vaccinosis”.

Stick to the “core” vaccines and “titer” first before revaccinating.

Here are a couple of great articles if you want to learn more:

The Goal: No More Pets Made Sick by Over-Vaccination, by Dr. Karen Becker (September 15, 2019)

New Canine Vaccine Rules Rolled Out — Can You Guess What They Now Endorse?, by Dr. Karen Becker (December 2017)

Don't over-vaccinate. Stick to "core" vaccines and titer first.

Don’t over-vaccinate. Stick to “core” vaccines and titer first.

11.  Use a Harness vs. a Collar

Collars put a strain on your dog’s neck.

There are “7 cervical (disks) vertebrae” at the top of your dog’s spine which supports your dog’s head/neck this is part of her spinal cord and needs to be protected from injury (as does the rest of her spine).

Any pulling or jerking action in this area while using a collar is not desirable! And could cause an injury to any dog.

Using a harness takes away this risk by placing any potential force on the chest.  A harness protects your dog’s neck, spine and esophagus.

12. Use Orthopedic Bed(s)

Placed in the rooms in your home that get a lot of use. We have one in the office, kitchen, and living room and bedroom. Yup, we do!

Who wants to sleep on a hard floor, especially if you have a bad back. I don’t. And neither does your Cherished Hound.

Use orthopedic beds to prevent IVDD episodes

Use orthopedic beds to prevent IVDD episodes

13.  Raise Food Bowls

So they can eat at a level without having to lower their neck or stretch their neck upwards. This eliminates putting unnecessary strain on the neck where her “7 cervical (disks) vertebrae” are located.

Therefore, she keeps her spine in alignment while she is highly focused on eating.

Measure your standing dog from their feet on the floor to the top of their shoulders, and subtract 6 inches.

This is a general guideline. Determine what’s good for your dog.

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Extra weight puts unnecessary strain on your dogs already compromised back.

If your dog’s back is not compromised it could become compromised due to extra weight.

Keep her beach-ready figure and her back will thank you!

Maintain a healthy weight to prevent IVDD episodes

Maintain a healthy weight to prevent IVDD episodes

15. Use Crates, Gates, and Ramps

Crates, gates, and ramps are you and your dog’s best friends! They go a long way in protecting your Cherished Hound from preventable injury & additional IVDD episodes. They are a good piece of mind!!

Remember NO MORE jumping! That means off and on sofas and beds, especially!

They are up there sometimes, we know they are. And they are going to jump off at some point. Invest in a ramp it is a good investment! And train them on how to use it. Will save on vet bills too!

Use ramps to prevent IVDD episodes

Use ramps to prevent IVDD episodes

16. Get Moderate Exercise

To maintain muscle tone which will help support your dogs back.

Listen to your dog they will tell you how they are feeling and what they can do.

Needs are based on age, breed, size & overall health.  General guidelines are 30-60 minutes/day minimum. Determine what’s good for your dog. Needs will vary widely. 

17.  Invest in a Dog Stroller

It is a GREAT tool to have when caring for a senior dog, a dog with arthritis or a dog with IVDD, or any other health condition.

It helps to keep you both mentally & physically stimulated when they can’t handle long walks. Or even when they can handle long walks but may need small rests in between.

I love my Dogger™. I want to help fellow pet parents improve the lives of their senior dogs too! So the next time I’m asked ‘where can I buy one’ I’m happy I can share with you a 15% discount on your order!

Just click on this link to Email me and I will have a unique coupon for 15% off sent to you by email!

Cherished Hound at the beach in her Dogger

Cherished Hound at the beach in her Dogger

18.  Feed Foods with Natural Anti-Inflammatory properties & Antioxidants 

  1. Blueberries
  2. Turmeric
  3. *Golden Turmeric Paste
  4. Sardines (omega 3’s).  **You can also use sardines in place of fish oil supplements; one small sardine supplies over 100 mg EPA/DHA.

*Recipe for Golden Turmeric Paste

** Mary Straus at Dog Aware

Feed foods with anti-inflammatories to prevent IVDD episodes

Feed foods with anti-inflammatories to prevent IVDD episodes

19. Use Grippers (Non-Slip Socks)

Non-slip socks give the traction dogs need on slippery floors like tile or hardwood.

Some dogs really need extra assistance in this area especially. Dogs with wobbly legs, stiffness, weakness or lameness from IVDD, arthritis or just getting old.

This is the only tip of my 20 tips to prevent IVDD episodes, I have not used to date. I hope we won’t have to because I can’t even get her to wear winter boots for snow and ice.

20. Use a Sleeping Crate 

My dog slept with me her whole life! In my bed! Up until August 2017 when she was diagnosed with IVDD.

This was one of the hardest things for me to change. But it has been one of the most effective! With big payoffs!

We both love it now! She has a spacious open-air wire crate, next to the bed, raised to the level of the bed. She’s still right there with me! Right where she should be!

Isabella in her “Sleeping Crate”

Receive your own 20 Tip Cheat Sheet 

FREE Guide “20 Tips to Prevent an IVDD Episode!”

In Conclusion

My 20 tips to prevent IVDD episodes have made a big difference for us!  Of course, I didn’t implement them all at once.  I have added them to our everyday lifestyle over a period of time.

Some of the things on this list are very simple and basic things that anyone can do. This is our real-life experience. These are the things that have made the biggest impact on managing Isabella’s IVDD and preventing new episodes.

So, it’s my hope you will find even just one tip or maybe several tips that made it on this list, as something you can implement that will make a difference in daily life with your Cherished Hound!

Before you start any new protocol with your dog, particularly if they are on medication, or suffering from an acute illness or condition, you MUST check with your veterinarian prior to starting any new protocol.  Please do not use the content from this blog in place of veterinary care!

I love connecting with pet parents. You might even see the answer to your question in an upcoming blog article! Feel free to reach out, and be sure to stay tuned for more!

What tips and tricks have you implemented that have worked well in helping you to manage your Cherished Hounds IVDD?

Leave us a comment we love hearing from you!

Do you have a question for the IVDD pet community? Or a topic you would like to see covered. Click here to send us an email!!!

Top 20 Tips To Prevent IVDD Episodes In Dogs

About the author: Cherished Hounds Person I’am a dog health blogger and devoted dog mom with 14 years of experience creating optimal health for her dog. My goal is to help fellow dog owners manage an IVDD diagnosis, prevent IVDD episodes, make healthy diet choices and lifestyle changes with the goal of creating optimal health for your dog!

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