Intervertebral Disc Disease and Paresis in a Dachshund

Check back legs

The case of an older dachshund with trouble using her back legs, the onset was sudden. The dog isn’t fat. Her front legs “work fine”.

Communication with owner:

She can barely feel her back feet. And she is “iffy’ about controlling the hind legs.

Which had to be separated from general weakness but her forelegs are sharp, well-nerved and functional.

Dr’s Notes: (Decreased CP hind and paresis] incomplete, toes respond to pinch.)


“Something” is pinching or pushing on her spinal cord INSIDE the spine-tube. (Vertebral column) 

Almost always, that’s an “intervertebral disc. Bulging.

(If it ruptures, her spine will be wrecked and REQUIRE surgery to walk-again)

(A $2000 MRI or CT Scan can separate bulge from ‘rupture’ for no reason at all.)

But we

(1) Can keep her very still, carry her around, up and down stairs, leash walks only for up to 6 weeks. This is to minimize further concussive pressure on the spine.

(2) Give her Prednisone for the swelling in the spine and inflammation in the disc

3] Give her a little muscle relaxer and some gabapentin for pain at the disc.

4) Protect her stomach with an antacid on the daily.

You can give Vitamin C because it speeds healing. They make Vitamin C gummies. She can take anywhere from 250mg to 500mg per day and it helps, a LOT. In more ways than you would ever think

If -hoping not- her back “fully pops” here’s how you’ll know:

(1) Her hind legs will barely move, if at all.

(2) You’ll be able to pinch the webbing between her toes and she won’t care.

IF THAT HAPPENS • her “only hope” would be “decompression surgery” which would be about  $21,000 at Blue Pearl or maybe $7000 at Dogwood Vet, or a similar specialty practice.

HOPEFULLY she can be kept rather quiet and still, in a crate most of the time, leash-walked, carried on stairs, and her meds make her comfortable and reduce the issues with her Intervertebral Disc. NOT UNCOMMONLY, a bulging disc can stabilize and heal over 6 weeks. Sometimes they “go ahead and pop” however. 

There are OTHER possibilities for this but they are comparatively rare to even impossible and outside our consideration because, if it’s spinal cancer – she’s not going to be okay. And spending $5,000 to diagnose spinal cancer seems frivolous.


Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.