How To Stop Your Corgi Getting Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Unfortunately, there is no way stop your Corgi getting Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), but you can help alleviate pressure on their spine to help reduce the risk of severity. This includes keeping them at a healthy weight, not letting them jump up high, using a harness, and limiting high-impact activities.

IVDD, or intervertebral disc disease, is a difficult illness for dogs to go through. It ranges from being incredibly severe to quite mild. The treatment can be anything from steroids and anti-inflammatories to major surgery and a canine wheelchair. It’s something that massively affects the quality of life for your Corgi, and it’s a terrible disease

Unfortunately, Corgis are one of several breeds prone to IVDD due to their long spines and short legs. Our little friends have always been short, but their legs used to be a bit longer before they were bred to be stumpier. This puts them at a greater risk of developing spinal issues. This is something we have to be aware of as their owners. 

If you want to know how to prevent your Corgi getting IVDD, I can tell you that the only thing you can do is help reduce pressure on their spine. That’s what I’m going to help you with today.

Key Takeaways:

  • IVDD cannot be prevented, but you can help make things easier on your dog. 
  • Vets have defined five stages of IVDD your Corgi could go through. 
  • Corgis are one of several breeds predisposed to IVDD. 
  • In serious cases, your Corgi could need surgery or a canine wheelchair. 
  • Awareness is key to catching the disease as early as possible. 
Corgi with a spinal issue using a wheelchair

What is IVDD?

IVDD stands for intervertebral disc disease. It is a degenerative spinal disease that affects numerous dog breeds and overweight dogs – Corgis being one of them. The canine spine, much like the human one, consists of a line of bony vertebrae with discs between them. These act like cushions to keep everything smooth and comfortable. 

IVDD occurs when one of these discs slips out of place and causes a protrusion. The results usually start as pain (varying in severity) and can then escalate to weakness and trouble getting up until it eventually progresses to the inability to walk. There are several places in dogs where IVDD can form. 

These areas are the neck and the spine’s middle and lower areas. While some dogs have been known to recover from IVDD, every Corgi is different. Not all of them will be lucky enough to get better. In these cases, they are likely to end up in a canine wheelchair after losing the ability to walk and regulate their bladder and bowels. 

It all depends on how acute the IVDD is and whether or not they’ve been treated for it early on. In the most extreme cases, it might be best to say goodbye to them humanely (but we all hope it doesn’t come to that). But there are plenty of treatments. And, there are things you can do to make life gentler on your Corgi’s little spine. 

Corgi using doggy stairs

Which Breeds Are Commonly Affected by Intervertebral Disc Disease?

The breeds that are most commonly affected by IVDD include: 

  • Bassett Hounds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Dachshunds
  • Beagles
  • Shih Tzus
  • German Shepherds
  • Bulldogs
  • Corgis
  • Pekingese
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Poodles
  • Labrador Retrievers

As you can see, not every breed that is prone to IVDD is a small dog. Additionally, overweight dogs of any breed are more likely to get IVDD. This is why a healthy weight is so important for your puppy (Corgi or otherwise). 

What are the Symptoms of IVDD? 

IVDD has five defined stages that vets use to determine and diagnose the condition. However, it is very common for signs of later stages to become apparent without noticing the earlier ones. As a result, it is important to watch out for the general signs and symptoms of IVDD. 

While pain indicators can be quite vague in dogs and don’t always align with specific conditions, these are the most important symptoms to look out for:

  • Loss of feeling in limbs
  • Lowered head when standing
  • Paw knuckling (dragging paws)
  • Arched or hunched back
  • Wobbling, incoordination, or weakness when walking
  • Stiff neck or limbs
  • Shivering, shaking, or muscle spasms
  • Reluctant to move
  • Inability to walk and loss of balance
  • Whining when moved or touched
  • Incontinence
  • Paralysis of limbs

If you suspect any of these signs, it is important to speak to your vet immediately and have your Corgi checked up. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be IVDD (which I hope it doesn’t), there is nothing wrong with making sure your little pal is in the best health possible. 

Corgi using a wheelchair

How Can You Stop Your Corgi Getting IVDD?

The sad truth is that there is no way to prevent IVDD. If it’s going to happen, it will. However, there are things you can do that minimize the pressure on the spine and help your Corgi to lead a rich life where, if they do develop IVDD, it might be diagnosed as a lesser severity and be more manageable for you both. 

These are the best ways to try and prevent things from getting worse for your Corgi’s spine. They will hopefully reduce the risk of severe IVDD if your Corgi does develop it: 

  • Keep them at a healthy weight 
  • Train your Corgi to walk well on leash so they don’t pull and strain their neck or spine
  • Try not to allow them to jump on/off furniture and other high places
  • Use doggy stairs to make getting up to comfortable places easier on them 
  • Always pick them up while supporting their spine if you need to lift them
  • Try to limit high-impact activities 
Corgi wearing a harness to prevent IVDD

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is IVDD in Corgis Treated? 

IVDD in Corgis will often be treated with steroids and anti-inflammatories if it has been diagnosed as mild to moderate in severity. They may also be made to rest for up to six weeks. If it is serious, surgery will often be required, and in the worst cases where the dog has already lost the ability to walk, a canine wheelchair tends to be the leading recommendation alongside painkillers and medications. 

Can a Corgi Recover from IVDD?

Yes, a Corgi can recover from IVDD. There are cases where dogs have made a full functional recovery from the condition. However, every case is different and not every dog will recover. It is important to remember that there are stages of severity, and your vet will be able to determine the level of recovery you can expect for your Corgi. 

What Age Does IVDD Occur? 

IVDD can occur at any age, but it typically manifests between three and six years of age. However, in breeds that are very prone to this illness, it is common to see the signs of it much earlier than this. 

Final Thoughts

I hope that this guide has been able to give you a clearer idea of what IVDD is and how it can impact your Corgi. It’s a terrible degenerative disease, and while you can’t prevent it, these tips and tricks can make things a lot easier for your Corgi if the signs do show up. The most important thing? Loving and caring for them through it all

Bella is the founder of Doggy & Pooch. She rehomed Winston the corgi in Jan 2020 and now shares her best tips and interesting facts with corgi lovers globally.

2 thoughts on “How To Stop Your Corgi Getting Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)”

  1. This is a great article. Coming from a pet mom whose dog had a severe case of IVDD (she required surgery for a massive blown disc) it is critical that you watch your dog closely if they are experiencing symptoms. Don’t be afraid to take your dog back to the vet after an initial consultation if symptoms worsen. We brought our girl in several times over a few day period and she ultimately got the help she needed. She had lost the use of her back legs. She is now fully healed and you would never know she came that close to paralysis. She’s regained full function of her hind quarters and is living her best life. We are incredibly grateful for the care she received, and her will to walk again.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Christina. It’s so helpful to hear advice from someone with experience. I’m so happy to here she’s regained full function. That’s fantastic news!


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