About The Pigs

Hello All.

I created this blog in July 2011 after my (then) 3 year old French Bulldog, Oslo, was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease (or IVDD), requiring emergency spinal surgery. This blog was/is a means to keep my friends, family & Oslo’s many fans worldwide up to date on his progress as he recovered, and to educate other dog owners about the threats of this terrible disease.

** Since it’s creation in 2011, my other French Bulldog, Jersey, has also had a couple run ins with IVDD… And in the winter of 2014 (3.5 years after his initial run in) Oslo had a *second* encounter. Disc Disease can affect one or all the spinal discs, so it’s not uncommon for dogs to have multiple encounters with it in their lives.

In the cases of Jersey’s first run in, and Oslo’s 2nd run in, I was able to recognize the IVDD warning signs very early, and both boys were able to be treated with medications and strict crate rest– thus avoiding the need for surgery.

In the case of Jersey’s second run-in– We were not able to avoid surgery that time. An examination by a Neurologist and CT Scan revealed that he had FOUR bulging discs in his neck. We decided to operate for the best possible chance of a full recovery. Neck surgery has a 95% recovery rate and dogs usually do very well with it. Unfortunately for us, Jersey was one of the 5% that had a complicated recovery. He remained painful & dependent on pain medications for *months* following the surgery**

If you are stumbling across this blog quite by accident, or if you have been linked here via someone you know, please read on for an introduction on who we are and (more importantly?) who Oslo is .

To start with, I live in beautiful British Columbia with my two French Bulldogs Jersey & Oslo. Oslo is my 8 year old Frenchie. He is my first bulldog & the love of my life. He is lover of all people, treats, cuddles, a good game of fetch & watching ‘The Dog Whisperer’.

Up until July 2011, Oslo had been a wonderfully healthy boy. Besides some bouts with tummy-troubles (which can be blamed on his appreciation for food of ANY origin– including garbage bins) I had never had any health problems with this little guy. He’s a 28lb sack of pure love!

However, this all changed on July 5th, 2011. Following a play at the park, I noticed that he was acting very different.  He was quite lethargic, seemed reluctant to move or walk, seemed uncomfortable and stressed out. I brought him into the vet  and he was simply diagnosed with Heat Exhaustion. “Too much fun in the sun,” said the vet. “Let him rest a bit.” A mere 3 hours after that appointment we were BACK at the vet. His general lethargy had turned into downright physical pain– he was quivering uncontrollably, his abdomen & sides were tender to the touch, he could NOT get comfortable no matter what position he was laying in, and (most heart breaking of all) he was grunting and sniffling in pain almost constantly.

The vet  met me back at the clinic and decided to take Oslo for the night. At this point she was suspecting a tummy-bug and the hope was that a good nights sleep, some fluids via IV, some pain-meds and getting him started on antibiotics would do the trick… Only, that wasn’t the case. At 4:30 am I received a call from the vet letting me know that Oslo was now exhibiting some lameness in his back legs. We were immediately referred to a Neurological Specialist at another clinic for further diagnoses.

A CatScan confirmed our worst fears–a condition called ‘IVDD’ & what appears to be a herniated disc(s). The condition can require immediate surgery to prevent permanent and complete paralysis to the lower legs. On July 6th Oslo went in for this emergency procedure, under the skillful hands of Dr. Nick Sharp of Canada West Veterinary Specialists. The surgery was a success, but it took Oslo another 3 months and many physiotherapy appointments to regain the ability to walk independently & control his bladder & bowels. Taking care of him in the first months following surgery was a full time job & a very emotionally & physically exhausting labour of love.

He is now 5+ years post-surgery and is doing very well. Though he does retain some weakness & wobbliness in his rear legs, most people who meet him now would never suspect that he was once essentially paralyzed and had 27 staples up his back!

Whether you have been following this blog from Day 1 or whether you are just tuning in now, I hope that you find these pages informative. Some posts are sad and stressful, some are joyous and celebratory.  Please share this blog with anyone you know with a French Bulldog so that they too can familiarize themselves with IVDD. There is no cure for IVDD, however knowledge of it can lead to adequate prevention.. which can, quite literally, save lives. Thank you.

61 thoughts on “About The Pigs

  1. I have read about your circumstances with Oslo, and I keep you all in my thoughts. I know that dogs are family, and we will do anything for family. Good luck and I hope his is a great success story. I will be following your blog faithfully and I hope he mends and heals well. I too am a dog lover and owner. They rely on us, and it’s our job to take care of them. Oslo is a special little guy and you are special people for doing what needs to be done. 🙂

  2. My heart goes out to you, Tamara & Justin. I completely understand what you are going through. My 5 year old male Frenchy, Boomer, is on his 3rd week of recovery from a 2nd herniated disc. His first was this past December. Best wishes to you all during this journey. I know it is heart-wrenching. Oslo is certainly fortunate to have you all as parents and you are lucky to have him. Please continue to keep us updated.

  3. This is such dejavu reading your blog, it’s almost identical to how our experience with our beautiful Frenchy Paris unfolded. She too was left at the vets under observation as I knew something was wrong and similarly, awoke to the same news the following morning. We were told that bc she was paralyzed in her back legs by the time they operated that she most likely wouldn’t walk again. It was the worst day of my life. They operated and all went as well as could be expected. Once we got her home I was prepared and armed with special Physio exercises that kept her legs strong while she was immobile. This was crucial in her recovery. I had to do these three times a day for half an hour, so I did them six times a day for an hour each set! I was going to give her the best chance. She showed no sign of improvement and dragged herself around but 10 days later, on Christmas day she finally stood (as though she had ben drinking vodka!)…to get to her food of course! Best Christmas present EVER! After that we did underwater-treadmill exercise twice a week and lots of swimming in a buoyancy vest in a therapy pool which she hated, but instinct to swim made her legs and brain connect. Her progress was amazing. The vet was astounded at her recovery and attributed it to my care and perseverance, she was my only priority for months. I knew if the shoe was on the other ‘paw’ she would have done it for me. Throughout the whole saga I have bonded with her so closely she IS my baby. Today, 6 years later, she is still a bit wobbly and has about 80% strength but she is happy, healthy and has taken it all in her stride. Our new puppy has been a great form of physio, helping with isolated exercise that has noticably helped to build her muscles in her legs from supervised play. Wishing Ossie a full recovery, by the sounds of it your love and determination will pull him through. Will be watching your blog and thinking of you. Imagining the worst of it is behind you and you will now experience lots of daily miracles from all of the tiny things you normally take for granted, like pooping! Highly recommend gentle Physio & leg massage. I can provide links to our specialist if needed. Sending our best wishes xxx

  4. A little over 3 years ago, I had to take my Boston Terrier, Norman, to see Nick Sharp as well. After 5 weeks of tests in Victoria and countless visits to my vet, she referred me to the neurology dept at Canada West Veterinary. I was amazed at the full range of equipment and tests available (which I would have killed for in 1997 when my Boston, Gus died suddenly of something neurological). For Norman, we had a real diagnosis within 36 hours (on a weekend!) It was an inoperable, terminal brain tumour but we had the chance to say goodbye to Norman knowing exactly what was going on in his little body. It cost me 3 years of savings but that knowledge offered a peace of mind that I did not have with Gus. Bless you for doing everything you can for Oslo; I know what you are going through. But I want you to know that with Nick Sharp, you are in the very best hands. I wish Oslo a quick recovery. – Wendy P.S. Norman & Gus are the inspiration for Shake A Paw Greetings.

    1. Thank you SO much for your wonderful note. I am terribly sorry to hear about Gus’ sudden departure & Norman’s tumor… how painful that must have been for you. Absolutely heart breaking. I am so glad that you had the change to say goodbye properly to Norman, though…. You can really not put a price on that.

  5. I know that I may not understand all that you have gone through, but I am happy that Oslo is doing well. The photos of him are beautiful.

    Mom

  6. this blog is amazing and you have inspired my blog to be centered around my dog as well! He is adorable good luck in your life’s journey with Oslo.

  7. Hi. Someone at the I Love French Bulldogs Facebook page recommended your blog when I posted asking for advice – our Bugz is due for his Catscan or MRI tomorrow and I fear we will be going through the same thing as poor Oslo. Thank you for the detailed descriptions and pictures. My husband and I sat here and read through all his (and yours) ordeals and it was good to get a sense of what we are facing. We had insurance, but I had also canceled it- they denied every claim as being a ‘breed related malady or condition’ (palate & nare surgery, allergies and skin conditions, etc) and never paid on any, so I thought it useless. Maybe it’s different in Canada, but the US wouldn’t cover any conditions inherent to certain breeds. Anyway, we will go broke, yes, but we will do everything humanly possible to help our Bugz. He’s 5 and the handsomest best little boy ever, and we also have Maggy who is a little over a year, and looks a lot like Oslo, and is the spitfire of the 2 (I guess I’m a little biased:). Thank you again, wish us luck, and give Oslo kisses for us. I’m so glad your baby is getting better quickly!

  8. Here’s an update on our Bugz – Turns out Bugz has a ruptured disk according to the MRI. He had surgery this afternoon, and the Dr. called with an update late this afternoon that he is fine. He will remain at the hospital under supervision until Saturday. We can go see him tomorrow, we can’t wait. Rehab will be a process, and it was about $6,500 altogether, but we’re just very happy our baby will be out of pain and seems to be doing OK so far. Thanks again for info that gave us a heads up on what to expect. https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/373783_2643406838384_1051988347_2741810_1928712662_n.jpg

    1. Thanks so much for the update!! I am so glad that he is recovering and doing well. If you ever have ANY questions, feel free to ask. I am always happy to share information. The first couple weeks after surgery are the hardest.. but it gets much easier after that. Hang in there! xoxox

    2. Hi Robin, Having gone through it all as well I am so happy to hear your little Bugz (who is adorble!) is in good hands and on the mend. Tamara’s blog has been brilliant for so many people I have recommended it to and she has provided invaluable information on what to expect blow-by-blow. I am sure it will help you ALOT, I only wish it was here when I had Paris have exactly the same scenario occur a few years ago. Best of luck and keep us posted. Looking forward to positive news and sending Frenchy hugs from our clan in Australia x

  9. Tamara, I like to share your blog with others and I think you offer great information from your experiences. I saw this company on LinkedIn recently and thought is would be a helpful tool for other dogs who are going through the difficult phase of having so much difficulty walking. Or any dog with weak hind legs. You probably already know about it but I thought I’d pass on the link: It’s called the Ginger Lead support harness: http://www.gingerlead.com

  10. Hello, I was told about this blog from the I Love French Bulldogs! Facebook page. I am currently experiencing a similar situation. Last week my 5 year old, Izzi was taken into the vet for an abscess on her anal glands. (I was away for the weekend for my birthday) and when I returned on Monday, after being told she isn’t doing so well with the pain, I noticed she was walking funny and yelping whenever she sat. She was crawling everywhere and her legs were moving, so I figured it was because she was trying to scratch her butt and couldn’t. Yesterday my father noticed she wasn’t walking at all and made another appointment with the Vet. I told the vet that she has been walking and moving her legs, but at times its almost as though she was paralyzed. At that point they said that she might have ruptured a disc in her spinal column and we can either get an X-ray done or give her meds to try to ease the pain. I am bringing her back today, but after reading everyone’s stories, I’m really worried and believe I should get a MRI now to see what is going on. I am worried about the money situation, but Izzi is my world and just thinking that something so horrible can happen makes me scared.
    Thank you for telling your story, so others can do research and get help ASAP.
    I will try to be in touch with Izzi’s results.

    1. Hi Renee! I am so sorry to hear about Izzy. I can completely understand what you must be going through right now. You are right that an MRI would be more appropriate than an Xray. Xrays are not detailed enough and often over look disc issues.

      I would talk to your vet & ask if they can refer you to a Neurological Specialist. They are spinal experts and will be more equipped to properly diagnose your sweet girl. However, I would also take your vet up on that RX for pain meds. IVDD can be quite painful.

      In the mean time, get Izzy on very strict crate rest IMMEDIATELY. She needs to be kept as immobile as possible. It is possible for dogs to heal ‘on their own’ but ONLY if their spines are given the opportunity to rest & recuperate. Please google ‘IVDD’ for more information.

      http://www.dodgerslist.com is a wealth of information

  11. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you created this blog. I started following Oslo after seeing his story on dailyfrenchie. Last week our Frenchie, Frank, started yelping when we picked him up. We rushed him to the emergency vet clinic. The vet on duty told us it was possibly IVDD, but to crate rest him for four weeks then come back to see the neurologist.

    Since we had read your blog, we ignored that advice and took him to see the neurologist the next day. After a MRI, determined Frank has hemivertebrae that are causing his spine to bend at almost a 90 degree angle. This has caused IVDD. Frank is scheduled for surgery next week.

    Thank you for writing this blog. Without Oslo’s story, we may have taken the ER vet’s advice, and been in a much worse situation.

    1. YES!! I am so incredibly glad that we could help!!!

      Of course, I am very sorry about Frank. IVDD is awful… BUT! It’s wonderful that you were able to catch it immediately and he was able to get in to see a neurologist right away. That makes all the difference.

      Please help spread the word about IVDD with all of your dog-owning friends. Frenchies aren’t the only breed prone to it— Corgis, Dachshunds, Lhasa’s & Shi Tzus are all prone to it as well. As you now know, being aware of the condition and being able to recognize its earliest symptoms can be the difference between life & death or paralysis and mobility.

      All the very best to you guys!!

  12. I am in the same situation!! Just some advice..the ct scan is less expensive and it shows exactly whats wrong and where the injured disk is located!

  13. Hi, around November last year Dexter, my 3-year french bulldog, presented IVDD. According to the doctor, he still had sense and reflex on his back legs right before and after the operation. However, the recovery is still outgoing. Me and my wife haven’t lost hope. But knowing that I was away the whole process and still will be is killing me.

    The reason why I’m writing is beside the water therapy, which other exercises do you recommend? To make his legs stronger again.

    By the way, from time to time he stand to eat his food.

  14. Your story really helped me to understand the situation that I was facing. A few weeks ago my frenchy Henri started shaking his hind legs and refusing to walk after returning from a nice day at the park. Something did not seem right to me as Henri is an extremely active frenchy and has never pulled/strained any muscles. I took him to the vets that evening because I was getting very nervous and I don’t like to see him in pain. The adrenaline from visiting the vets pretty much shocked him back into a fairly normal state and the vet not being able to see much discomfort gave him some anti-inflammatory meds and told me to monitor him. He just said if it doesn’t clear up from the meds this could be something worse. The following morning he seemed to be back to normal or pretty normal and the day after he seemed perfect… Until this past Monday. Monday night I returned from dinner and he was standing in the middle of the room just panting and shaking with pain absolutely refusing to walk. He had hardly had any exercise that day so I knew he couldn’t have pulled any muscle! I gave him a dosage of the anti-inflammatory just to be sure… It did nothing for him. I came across oslo’s story on the internet and knew immediately that this was exactly what was wrong. I tried to obtain insurance but it was all happening so quickly and since the vets noted he had some back issues it would be considered a ‘pre-existing’ condition or something of that nature. He was so uncomfortable that I brought him to the vets first thing knowing that I most likely had a surgery ahead of me. That day the vets x-rayed him and said the could clearly see a problem with his spine and I needed to see a specialist ASAP. On Wednesday he went in, received and MRI, and then had surgery immediately. There was no question in my mind that I would find a way to pay for it. Henri came home yesterday and he is doing well. It’s going to be a long recovery and lots of carrying this little guy around but knowing that I caught it early enough (before paralysis) and that he will most likely make a complete recovery is comforting. I wish I would’ve been smarter and acquired some sort of insurance when I suspected anything was wrong! Thanks for the insight on what was going on- it really helped prepare me! While I may be financially wounded, at least Ihave my little guy!

  15. I just had my poor Frenchie go through his 4th surgery. I don’t know what to do. He had his 4th surgery in 3.5 years on Friday. Sat he looks great. Sunday he looked bad. Now they think his neck may be an issue and we are scanning him again and may operate AGAIN. I have an amazing neurologist, but I honestly don’t know if continuing to have him live like this is wise. Has anyone operated more than 3x on this page? He’s 6.5 years old. He doesn’t run, jump etc and has been carried up and down the stairs his whole life.

  16. Thank you for starting this blog. We have 2 rescue dogs – one being Sweet Lulu Lilly who is approximately 4 years old and is a Frenchton (French/Boston) and A Jack/ Boston, Spunky Daisy Duke. We had a scary experience with Lulu this Sunday where she could not put weight on her hind legs and could no longer jump. We called our vet and got her in first thing Monday morning. After several nervous hours of waiting our baby girl was diagnosed with IVDD. At this time they have her on a lot of meds and on crate rest. I am curious if this was the first step prior to surgery or if your little man just went straight to surgery. We want to do the best thing for her and don’t know if crate rest will do the trick and if waiting on this method will cause more harm to her. Any advice would be really appreciated. – Jennifer

  17. Thank you thank you thank you for this blog! I’ve been reading it since we got our Frenchie “Pancake” 2 and a half years ago, and it convinced us to both get pet insurance and put a bit of money away each week for him (we call it his college fund, haha).

    On Sunday morning (4 days ago) Pancake started acting strangely, my husband let him outside to potty and when he came back in 3 min later he was shaking, breathing heavy, his heart was going twice as fast as usual, he was panting, and was walking really slow and hesitantly. We were super freaked out and so took him immediately to the emergency vet where they ran neuro tests, xray, blood work, etc, and couldn’t find anything wrong with him. They thought that perhaps he ate something that hurt his stomach and prescribed some nausea pills and to feed him a bland rice and chicken diet for awhile. Over the next two days he seemed a little bit better (especially when we gave him some baby aspirin) but we also started to notice that he shook mainly when he would go from sitting/laying to standing. Also he was extremely lethargic. He didn’t give any negative reaction to us touching him or his back, except for a very slight avoidance shift when we would touch a area of his stomach, so it really wasn’t clear if it was a back problem or not. Thankfully because of your blog, I started to wonder if he might have IVDD, since his symptoms did match some of them on the list. So, we made an appointment to have an MRI done, and today was his appointment. The MRI revealed that Pancake has a ruptured disk that is bulging into his spinal cord. Apparently it wasn’t causing him the pain that it should’ve because it is pushed to the side instead of pinching. Enough so though it did cause some pain and could have gotten worse. 😦 He is in surgery right now and will will have some recovery ahead of him. All of the vet bills for this total up to about $10,000. Thank god for your blog and for pet insurance, best decision we ever made.

    Coraleigh and Tyler Jones
    Seattle, WA
    Cute pic of Pancake :-)… http://www.meetup.com/members/7854028/

    1. Coraliegh! I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to know that Oslo’s journey has helped you in any way at all. I am SO sorry to hear about Pancake… but just so very glad that you at least had insurance and that Pancake is getting the care that he needs and deserves.

      The recovery process with IVDD is NOT an easy one. Please know that if you ever need tips, advice, or just an ear– I am here. You can email me any time at all. The first month is the hardest and it usually gets easier from there. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a hand.

      We’ll be thinking of you! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

      XO.

      1. Hi,

        I am going through something similar with my frenchie Jones. When I first brought him to the vet it appeared his back hurt, and the told me to keep him on bed rest and pain pills. He slowly started to develop these bouts of pain, where we would hunch in, tense up, and shake for about 10-15 minutes. I brought him back to the vet and they treated him for epilepsy. He still isn’t walking normally and keeps going through the bouts of pain. I’m worried if it’s IVDD and very very worried something is going wrong and nothing is being done about it. Help!

      2. Hi! Just wanted to give you an update on Pancake. 🙂 He had his second run-in with IVDD this last April, but is doing great now. We have been exceptionally careful with him since his first surgery; absolutely no going up or down stairs, no playing with big dogs (who like to put their feet on his back), no jumping, etc. However IVDD still can happen despite every precaution. Thank god for pet insurance! Your blog is what made me seek out insurance when Pancake was just a pup, and it has saved us over $10,000 to date, phew! Plus most importantly we never had to consider any lower cost option which may not have been effective and could have delayed his suffering. We were able to walk in and say ‘yes, give him an MRI asap, and whatever else that he needs’, spare no expense. 🙂 If anyone ever is looking for a really good insurance company here in the US, we use “Healthy Paws” and they have been outstanding through every claim that we’ve made. Thanks again!!

  18. Hi there our dog Bruno has one of the worst cases of Hanson Type 1 my neurologist has seen. What I can tell you is that surgery is extremely effective and alleviates pain. You can get through this and yes it is very expensive and emotionally exhausting. Most dogs have only 1-2 major bouts of this illness. If you have the means I would opt for the surgery. The pain from ruptured discs is horrible, but be assured he will be back to normal after. You don’t need to wait till a dog is paralyzed to have this surgery.

  19. My dog Ralphie is at the doggy hospital right now. His surgery for his ruptured discs was this morning at 10 a.m. Thankfully the surgeon called and said the surgery went well. I can probably pick him up in two to three days. They will be the longest days of my life. I miss him and am very worried, but I know he needed the surgery. The surgeon said that in addition to the several ruptures he was going to fix, he found an old rupture, from about 6 months ago and sure enough, 6 months ago Ralphie had had another bout of his “not feeling well.” Each time he did not feel well, my regular vet assumed (as did we) that it was him tummy that was hurting. I’m glad I asked for a referral to a neurologist. I did that after reading your story, so thank you so much for your blog. Who knows how long my poor Ralphie would have been in pain, if not paralyzed, had it not been for your blog.

    1. Thank you so much for your note!! I am so sorry to hear about Ralphie, but so pleased that we were able to play a small part in his eventual recovery. Knowledge about spinal issues really is key… and it’s surprising just how many Vets misdiagnose IVDD. If medical professionals don’t even recognize the symptoms, there certainly isn’t much hope for the average pet-owner! Yikes!! I am SO glad that that you came upon my blog, and followed it up by asking to see a neuro-specialist. You are wonderful to advocate for Ralphie so! Please give him a (gentle) squish from us when he returns home. We wish him a speedy recovery!!

  20. Thanks! Ralphie is home now. We got him back early as he really dislikes being caged and the vet said he was snapping and lashing out at the vet techs and they were worried he’d hurt himself in the cage, so figured he’d be better off at home. That was just over 24 hours after surgery we got him back. I was very happy he could come home and we’re camped out on the living room floor, with a baby gate at the stairs so he can’t go down or up. Not like he could right now anyhow, he’s very sore and weak and drugged. He does walk occasionally and seems like his gait is good. I feel for the poor little guy. 4 to 6 weeks seems like an awful long time for him not to be able to do anything. No playing, stairs, walks etc. Is that really how long it should be? I can tell you my upper arms should be pretty toned when this is all over since I have to carry him with one arm through his front legs and one arm through his back legs. Sure gets heavy pretty fast 🙂 Thanks for the well wishes.

    1. Hi Joey– Unfortunately the rest period of 4-6 weeks is absolutely required. In fact, I’d even say that it should be more like 6-8 weeks. It’s imperative that his spine is FULLY, completely, 100% healed before he start being active again. Letting him do too much, too soon, could result in instantaneous re-injury. Nobody wants that! Also– Is Ralphie not crated at home? For at *least* the first couple of weeks, he really needs to be in as small of a space as possible. If he doesn’t do well in crates (sounds like he really had a tough time at the vet!), try confining him to the smallest room in your house– even a large closet, or the bathroom, or foyer will do. I can’t stress enough how imperative it is that his spine be 100% completely rested. I am of the mind set that it’s better that you err on the side of caution and have him do a bit *too little*, than allow him to do just a bit *too much* and have him get hurt. If you have any other questions– let me know. I am always happy to help. Emailing me directly is usually the best bet, info@wanderlustphotography.ca 🙂 Wishing you and Ralphie the best!

  21. I just stumbled across your blog, I have a mini dachshund 9 weeks post op, and am writing our blog mis-adventures, but yours is much better! I too feel it is important to share the highs and lows of what going through this is actually like. No one can prepare you for it, but know what to do and to recognise the 1st signs is really important. Thank you very much for sharing your experience …. Sharelyn and Lady Penelope

    1. Thanks for your comment!! I am so sorry to hear that your sweet Daschshund is going through this… but so glad to hear that you are keeping a blog. As you know, there is no sure-fire way to prevent IVDD entirely… but educating people on the disease and it’s earliest symptoms *can* at least help. I hope Lady Penelope is doing well and you are hanging in there ❤

  22. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Our Frenchie Poundcake is going through the same thing as Oslo; his spinal surgery was about 10 days ago. It’s hard to explain to people how one day they were fine and the next they’re not, and how it turns everything in your world upside down.

    I read Poundcake Oslo’s story for encouragement. Thanks for sharing and thanks for giving us hope.

  23. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am a dog mom of a 5 year old frenchie and I’m always worry about this happening. I’m so happy Olso is doing well and he’s lucky to have such a great dogmom. Have you come across any things that could prevent this from occurring. For example supplements or vitamins or just plain limiting activity ( which sounds super difficult)

    1. Hi Krissy–

      Limiting risky activities (jumping off furniture, aggressive games of ‘tug-o-war’, running down stairs, etc) is certainly the best bet. Though, even if you are diligent about that, there’s still no guarantee that it won’t happen. I have found that a glucosamine supplement & MSM helps Oslo enormously now. If I had started him on it before his injury I’m not sure if it really would have prevented his spinal issues entirely… but perhaps? It certainly couldn’t have hurt! There are many canine glucosamine & MSM products on the market, but the one that we use is called ‘Recovery SA’ by Purica. It’s fabulous! Make sure to chat with your vet before starting your dog on any supplements, though. In short– there is no way to guarantee that this won’t happen to your dog… but giving a supplement to help keep the joints limber, limiting risky activities when possible, and being educated about this disease and watchful of early symptoms is really the best (only?) arsenal. 🙂

  24. Hello! I was referred to your blog from a Boston Terrier board…when I posted for advice on what to expect from a neuro consult. Lu (my BT) has been diagnosed by the ER vet with nerve damage to the neck. They took X-rays…but no MRI until we consult with the neuro on Tues. I’m scared to pieces since Lucy is an elderly 8 y/o…from a puppy mill with a king list of prior health problems/surgeries. Thanks so much for blogging & sharing your story! I’m reading thru now…and a little on overload from trying to research everything online.

  25. Hello from New Mexico, USA. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story… we are happy to hear Oslo is doing well. We have two Girls, Jersey Girl, and Little Blaze, 5 & 3 respectively… Are your Frenchies on Facebook? Blessings to you and yours, Lisa

  26. We just lost our 5 year old frenchie, Lenny to ivdd. It is so heartbreaking. He had about 6 bouts of it in his short life, losing function of his hind quarters each time. The last time he lost function of his front end and we knew it was his time. He was in so much pain. I hope Oslo lives a healthy rest of his life, xo

  27. I wish that I read your blog earlier because yesterday we had to put down our Frenchie and he brought such great joy into our lives. Your blog has helped me so much in the care for Frenchies and I will spread the word to other Frenchie owners to follow your informative blog.

  28. I wish I had stumbled upon your blog sooner and I am so happy that you have been able to come out of the IVDD so well. I became smitten with french bulldogs a number of years ago and was so lucky to get my first, Dashiell, a fawn male over five years ago. We loved Dash so much, that when his sister, Coco – dark brindle, became available we got her too. I like to think I did everything to ensure that they had a very loved and healthy life. Unfortunately, we just lost Dash on 11/18/15 due to a second, heart-breaking bout of IVDD. I was not prepared when he first came down with the symptoms a year ago (a horrible horrible day) when he began to hide under the table and shiver. I brought him to vet who observed that he seemed to have a sore back. She gave him muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, etc and I kept him very calm and still on a soft bed on the floor. By the next day, he couldn’t support himself with his back legs. I rushed back to the vet on a rainy Friday night in December, only to be taken next door to the surgery. The surgeon told me that Dash had a ruptured disc due to IVDD and that he would need immediate surgery – he still had deep pain reflex- and that he would need extensive rehab, but his full recovery was good. I did not have pet insurance – $6,000. I said yes to the surgery and was so grateful that the surgeon and staff stayed late on Friday night to save Dash. I brought him home several days later and for 6 weeks, kept him crate confined (he had never been crate-trained so it was rough) , hand fed him the first week, expressed his bladder and did massage therapy several times a day in addition to following a detailed medication schedule. I was happy to see him improving and by mid- January he was back to his old self, with just a slight scar on his back to show. I did everything to rearrange his living space to protect his back – I carried him down the stairs when we would go outside for a walk, walks were kept short, I removed all furniture that he used to jump up on, got him many soft beds for the floor. But Dash was a people loving dog and I just could not get him to not jump on his back legs when people came to visit. It was only for an initial burst, but he would not be stopped. Was that what caused his second injury? I can’t say , but this November, I was slated to go out of town on a Weds and had arranged for my pet/house sitter to come and stay. Two days before, on a Monday, I noticed that Dash was moving very slowly, but thought maybe because it was kind of cold and rainy, he was just low-energy. By that night, he was shivering again and acting like he did that previous year. I had some of his meds still on hand, so I gave him them and took him into the vet the next morning. My vet observed that indeed his back was sensitive but he was walking and even wagging his tail – she recommended crate confinement and medication – so I opted for them to do it at the vet so he could get the best care and my sitter would not have to worry about him in addition to watching Coco and my cat. I was planning on picking him up on Sunday when I got home from my trip.
    The next morning, Weds, as I was in line about to boaord my flight, my vet called, with her voice shaking, informing me that Dash had lost muscle control, bladder control and no longer had deep pain reflex. I could not have him go through another surgery, this time without a good possible prognosis. It was his time and I was crying in the airport when I had to make the horrible decision. He will be missed and loved always.

    my take aways from IVDD:
    1) get pet insurance the minute you get your dog. I got it for Coco and hope I never have to use it, but my $6000 surgery bill for Dash would have been under $1000 after my deductible if I had had for him.
    2) discourage your dog from jumping up on furniture/steps etc.
    3) treasure every minute with you pet – since Dash had healed in January, I made sure that I really appreciated just a plain old normal “dog” day

    I sincerely hope that nobody has to go through this with their dog.

  29. Last week our 3 year old Frenchie, Hannah, started behaving very odd. She could not make it up the steps and was reluctant to jump up onto the couch or bed. We brought her to the vet who concluded it was likely a soft tissue injury from possible trauma (she’s always running into thugs and pummeling into walls while playing with our Boston terrier). We left with some pain killers and told to have her rest. That night she woke up unable to get comfortable, shaking like crazy and panting. We found your blog at 3 am and knew exactly this is what she had. We brought her back to the clinic for an X-ray the next day and they found calcification in two of her vertebrae and some swelling. Fortunately she was still able to walk and not showing any neurological symptoms, so conservative medical treatment is what we are doing now. Hopefully this works and we will not need to do an MRI or surgery as we do not have insurance. my question to you is, knowing that our Hannah can still walk without wobbling/knuckling, and generally doesn’t show neurological symptoms, how long would you recommend and to what extent should her crate rest be? Our vet said a couple of weeks, and on-leash potty breaks. However reading your blog it seems minimal walking and at least 6 weeks has been effective from your experience (I’ve even read to them while in crate to minimize walking around, on another resource). I’m just torn because as much as I hate keeping her in her crate at all times, I would hate to give her some leniency and freedom to walk around a bit, and be delaying her progress or making her condition worse. We have not seen a neurologist and our vet didn’t seem too knowledgeable on the condition and breed, so your experience and input is highly valued!! Also, after they recover, how do you keep them from jumping up on to ththe couch or rough housing? Do you let them run and play fetch like they used to? I will be forever paranoid for the rest of my girls (hopefully long and happy) life. Thanks again !

    1. When it comes to crate rest, I always think it’s better to air on the side of caution. I have done 6 weeks of strict rest, and then very slow, short, and controlled walked from then on, working your way up to freedom of the house until 8 weeks.

      As for running and playing fetch. I discourage my boys from running, and fetch is an absolute no-no. You essentially want to avoid anything that produces jarring impacts on the spine. The RUN, followed by very quick stop of a game of fetch (while they chase, and then suddenly stop to pick up) an object is risky. Running, in my opinion, is dangerous as well because of the slip/fall/run into something danger.

  30. It seems I’ve had the same experience many others have had – I found your blog while searching for more information and answers upon being presented with heartbreaking news of my own. My frenchie, Mortimer, is barely 3 and a half years old and same as Oslo, he’s been completely healthy other than the occasional tummy trouble, the typical frenchie allergies, and needing some heavy duty face fold cleaning supplies from the vet. A week and a half ago, he started acting strange. I took him to the vet. I had nothing to cite but diarrhea. He was treated and I took him home. Not only did nothing seemed to curb his diarrhea, but he seemed so uncomfortable and it was a struggle to convince him to eat. He would pace around, not wanting to lay down, unable to get comfortable and he would have strange little muscle spasms/shivers. Everyone told me it must have been the medicine he was on giving him a poor reaction, they told me I took him to the vet too much and that I should let him work through things more on his own like nature intended (never mind that Frenchies are anything BUT from nature!). I didn’t sleep for days – I would sit up at night just watching him. I brought him back to the vet a week later knowing there was something more. He seemed so unhappy and didn’t want to eat or make eye contact with me. We did a pancreatitis test, multiple fecal smears, full body palpation and he seemed to have just tenderness in his stomach and still no positive results in any of the tests but he had lost 4 pounds in a week. The vet hospitalized him for observation and to give him fluids with monitored pain therapy over that weekend. I picked him up on Monday and they said he was doing better and seeming more like himself. He still didn’t seem quite right still but I took him home with instructions to report any changes in his behavior. Within a few hours of him being home, I knew something was very much wrong. He wasn’t making eye contact with me, he was having tremors, quivering, odd posture while sitting/standing, painting quickly and lightly…I decided to take him to the emergency/specialty vet. It was late at night but I couldn’t see him in pain any more and I knew there was something big we were all missing.
    It took about 15 minutes for me to get what I felt was the most frightening and heartbreaking and confusing news of my life…the vet on call found that he had severe neck pain and she believed that based on his breed, that it was IVDD and he had a slipped disc.
    I had a lot of questions. The only way to know for sure was an MRI she said. The treatment was either strict crate confinement and rest for 3 weeks with pain medication/muscle relaxers/anti-inflammatory medication to keep him comfortable or surgery. She suggested going straight to trying the crate rest and seeing how he was after 3 weeks. She told me to watch for signs of neurological deficits and an inability to manage the pain with medication. She said those were the indicators that an MRI and surgery were the next steps.
    I brought him home but I was shocked and scared. I started researching what I was dealing with. I read studies, I read this blog, I read literature from UC Davis, UVA and UF. He seemed so much better when he was on the medication – he seemed like himself. He was moving and walking fine. He seemed like there were no issues. I mulled everything over for about a day though. How did I know this was really the issue? Was I okay without a 100% certain diagnosis? In how fragile of a state was he? How bad was this herniation? What was life going to be like afterward? How was his life and activities and quality of life going to be different? How was I going to feel? Was I always going to be holding my breath waiting for something to happen? I decided I needed to know for sure.
    I called around to each neurologist in the area to get quotes on MRIs. My fiance found Dr. Anne Chauvet’s information while looking for a specialist after we received Mortimer’s diagnosis on Monday night. She had the most state of the art clinic in central Florida, which was an hour and a half away from us. In calling around on yesterday morning, I learned that Dr. Chauvet practiced in Tampa once a week on Wednesdays. She was so kind and was willing to adjust her schedule and stay in Tampa to see me that day for a consult. I left work, got Morty and made the 45+ minute trip to Tampa as quickly as I could.
    Dr. Chauvet examined him, and I showed her the videos I had taken of how he was acting on Monday night prior to his trip to the emergency vet. Her second, expert opinion was that Mortimer indeed had a slipped disc. From Dr. Chauvet’s experience, the discs in the neck do not heal well with crate rest and they continue to be problematic and recurring due to the amount of motion and weight from Frenchie’s large heads. If the problem were in his back, she told me she would have advised crate rest and a recheck but felt that our best option was an MRI and surgery if the diagnosis was confirmed.
    We did the MRI and sure enough he had a very severely herniated disc between C2 and C3 as well as several dehydrated discs immediately behind it. Dr. Chauvet took him down to Sarasota with her and he’s in surgery today as we speak. She’ll be removing the protruding portion of the herniated disk and performing fenestration on the other problem discs as a preventative measure.
    Why was surgery an easy choice for me? I didn’t want this to be a recurring problem as it seemed it was bound to be. Spinal injuries in the neck affect all four limbs and all major body organs and functions. With surgery, I wouldn’t have to treat Mortimer as though he was glass. He could carry on with his life, happy and healthy and I could sleep easier at night not having my heart skip a beat with every twitch or tremor.
    I realize that my fiance and I are very fortunate that we had the ability to afford the $5k in medical care to treat this problem. We do have pet insurance, but the orthopedic waiting period for Embrace Insurance ended 6 days AFTER we received this diagnosis and thus, we wouldn’t be covered and all future instances on IVDD won’t be covered either. The advice that I can offer is to listen to your gut, and if possible, spend the extra money (I found consultation costs to be between $123 to $145) to have your pup checked by a board certified neurologist. They are experienced and knowledgeable and can offer you the best information for caring for your fur kid – whether it be how best to medically care for the issue, or how to keep your pet as comfortable and safe as possible until you can get the funds together to take further treatment steps. The more you know, the better care you can take of your family member and the better you can sleep at night.

    1. Hi Dana! Thank you for sharing your story!! I am so glad that Mortimer has a Momma who listened to her gut and kept pushing for answers… and even more happy to hear that you guys were in the financial position to pay for surgery. Surgery is, by and large, accepted as the ‘best’ treatment for more severe cases. Dogs who have surgery have less likelihood of a reoccurrence, and we also get the peace of mind knowing that the problem was completely attended too and all bad discs were treated. Unfortunately, all too many people cannot afford the surgery making it an impossible option… This is why I advocate so strongly for Health Insurance (how frustrating that your situation happened during your grace period and you weren’t covered!)

      Being able to make health-care choices based only on what is best for the animal, regardless of cost, is something I wish for every pet owner.

  31. I too found your blog after my almost 2 year old French Bulldog needed surgery for a herniated disc on 6/29/16. His situation is almost identical to yours and I had done my research before getting him and knew the risks of this breed. Although I had no idea I would be in this kind of situation and having such a large vet bill and no insurance! After Oslo’s surgery you stated you now have him covered by insurance. I am very interested to know what insurance and what kind of plan you now have for him.

  32. Thank you so much for sharing! Yes, I imagine anything to do with the back/spine is out the door and won’t be covered for my lil guy. Norman’s x-rays showed multiple hemivertebrae in the thoracic spine, associated kyphosis in mid-thoracic spine, mineralization, narrowing of disc space. MRI showed bulge in thoracic junction, herniation at L3-L4, degeneration in the discs, compressed spinal cord and bruised spinal cord with neuro deficit in rear legs, and something else above the tail. He had surgery for the herniated disc and is now on strict crate rest.

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