New Years Eve of 2015 was the day Jasper’s life changed forever. Jasper is a 7 year old wienerdog from Austin (TX) who is an Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) survivor. IVDD is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis (from: PetMD).
Jasper’s IVDD onset was very sudden. Some days before New Years Eve he was having trouble walking up the stairs in his home, which had never been an issue for him. Since it was right before the holiday his vet was booked solid so Jasper’s mum, Kelsi, booked an appointment for the following week. But on New Years Eve it was obvious that Jasper was in real pain: when Kelsi tried to pick him up he yelped really loud. Jasper was taken to the emergency vet where they said that it was definitely related to his back, but to give him steroids, pain medicine and kennel rest for 4-6 weeks so that his body can build scar tissue and recover. Jasper was still able to walk at this point but that all changed when Kelsi and her husband returned from a holiday to visit to their friends, which took no longer than 3.5 hours. When they got home, Jasper was paralyzed. They took him back to the emergency vet where they were told Jasper needed emergency surgery, and he was scheduled for the following morning (New Years Day).
Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful. The doctor believes it was inevitable because part of one of Jasper’s discs calcified and broke off, which is what caused the paralyzation by it pressing against his spinal cord, cutting off the nerves. They said the opportune time for surgery is 24 hours after paralyzation, and even though surgery occurred less than 12 hours after Jasper became paralyzed, it was not meant to be for him to walk again. He was OK coming out of surgery initially, but lost deep pain sensation in his legs about 2 weeks after surgery. Jasper underwent 12 rounds of acupuncture to try and stimulate the nerves, but never got a response. About 2.5 months after surgery, Kelsi ordered wheels from Eddie’s Wheels and Jasper been cruising on them ever since!
When we asked Kelsi in what way IVDD has changed their daily life, she said that his overall quality of life has not changed much. He can still run around with his wheels or drag himself short distances when he needs to get some energy out. But it was definitely an adjustment for all of them in the beginning. Jasper was initially very confused and frustrated with the fact that he could not walk, which was especially hard in the beginning when he was supposed to be very still for recovery. Jasper is also incontinent now, and his bladder has to be expressed multiple times a day. Kelsi said it was terrifying for them at first: they were not sure if they were doing it right and did not want to hurt him or cause an infection. What was also difficult was setting up a daily schedule that worked for all three members of the family. They eventually figured out a routine.
The vast majority of reactions Jasper gets on his wheels are very positive. People can see that although he lives a handicapable life on wheels, Jasper is still a very happy and energetic little guy who looks adorable in his wheels!
Fortunately, Jasper is still very much alive but his IVDD story could have ended very differently. A combination of quick acting by his owners, a little bit of luck and his resilience saved Jasper’s life. Although dachshunds might seem untouchable, simple things as walking the stairs, jumping on and off furniture or tugging on a regular collar can cause IVDD. If you want to read more about IVDD prevention, take a look at some of the links below:
We want to thank Kelsi for sharing Jasper’s IVDD story with us. IVDD can happen to any dachshund, no matter the precautions, so never hesitate to visit a vet when you feel like your dachshund is acting strange.