When Django was a baby, our ‘walks’ consisted of him sitting in the middle of a busy Brooklyn sidewalk. Django would stare wide-eyed at every passerby, hoping they’d stop to pet and coo over him. They usually did. As you can imagine, many people who stopped to pet Django were dachshund owners. And so many of these doxie lovers had a story to tell us about their dog and Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD).
IVDD, per PetMD, “is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst into the spinal cord space… [they] press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.”
When Django was 4.9 lbs of cuteness, kind and well-meaning New Yorkers told Mike and I (Steph) countless stories about IVDD. We heard horror stories about dogs with chronic back pain or permanent paralysis, and a few heartbreaking tales of dogs in so much pain that they had to be euthanized. Many people told us to never let Django jump on and off furniture or even climb stairs. So that’s what we did.
Mike and I have never allowed Django to jump on and off furniture, and we don’t let him climb even a short flight of stairs. Extreme? Maybe. But after hearing so many terrible tales of IVDD, we decided to take drastic action. We recognize that Django is still at risk of IVDD - no stairs or jumping aside. His body is extra long and his legs are amusingly short... he's unfortunately at risk no matter what we do.
Django is unusually chill, so teaching him to never jump or climb stairs was actually easy. Now Django sits patiently at the bottom of a staircase until we're ready to say "pick up!" and carry him upstairs. Of course, not all dogs are as eerily calm as Django.
Whether you have a healthy puppy, a middle aged dog with a sensitive back, or a senior dog who has (or hasn't) experienced IVDD... consider minimizing the risk of future back problems with pet gates, dog ramps and shallow pet stairs.
Yes, some breeds are more genetically at risk of IVDD. These chondodystrophic breeds include dachshunds, bulldogs, basset hounds, beagles, corgis, cocker spaniels, pekingese, shih-tzus and even poodles. But all dogs grow more susceptible to back problems as they age, including non-chondodystrophic breeds.
Here are the most popular and well-rated indoor dog gates, pet ramps and stairs.
Consider a high quality pet gate to keep your pup safe in one section of your home or to prevent your dog from climbing and descending steep staircases. Mike and I use Top Paw’s Extra Wide Pet Gate at my parents' home to prevent Django from running up the stairs. Consider the second option below if you don’t need the extra wide reach and want to save a few dollars.
Product highlights: all-steel construction, pressure-mount installation (i.e. no drilling holes in your wall), 29-52 inch adjustable width.
Product highlights: All-steel construction, pressure-mount installation (i.e. no drilling holes in your wall), 29-37 inch adjustable width.
While Mike and I have never needed to use pet ramps or stairs for Django, they are an excellent tool to prevent your pup from jumping on and of furniture. Pet ramps have a modest incline and are best for dogs with sensitive backs or pups with mobility problems. Ramps are also the best option for dogs genetically at risk of IVDD. Pet stairs are most popular for young, non-chondodystrophic breeds and will take up a little less space in your home.
Product highlights: Machine-washable micro-suede cover, supports dogs up to 100lbs, available in various micro-suede fabrics.
Product highlights: Removable and washable carpet tread, rubber grips prevent stairs from sliding, supports dogs up to 150 lbs.
This is a great option for dogs at greater risk of IVDD, like Django, as the scalloped design is significantly easier on dogs' back then true 'stairs'.
Product highlights: machine-washable micro-suede cover, supports dogs up to 100 lbs.
* IMPORTANT CAVEAT * While many customers have only great things to say about this product, two issues continue to pop up sparingly in Amazon's review section. For one, some customers report the carpet is very slippery - a problem especially for older dogs that have trouble walking. Another issue is craftsmanship. Several customers reported issues with drilling holes - either a hole was misaligned or missing entirely.
Product highlights: Fits alongside king and queen beds, supports dogs up to 120 lbs.
Is there a product we didn't include on our list that you love? Please let us know in the comments below! We are 100% open to recommendations and welcome your feedback!
We're approaching our third year in New York City with Django (and our 10th year living here overall!). We've lived in five different apartments throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, so we've gotten to know the city and everything it has to offer really really well.
New York City can be an intimidating place, especially if you're visiting for the first time with your dog. Not sure where to eat and hang out with your pup next time you visit? We put together a list of our favorite dog-friendly restaurants, coffee shops, bars, parks and beaches (yes, beaches!) in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
With ticks and other disease-spreading insects proliferating throughout the United States, dog parents today are increasingly concerned about protecting themselves and their pups from Lyme disease. Lyme disease is commonly transmitted to dogs and humans through bites from blacklegged ticks and can cause serious symptoms and illness.
We partnered with the Cynthia Lopez, editor of Pet Life Today, on this important topic. Here is everything you need to know about Lyme Disease in dogs including preventative care, symptoms, and treatment options.
Last year Mike and I took our dachshund Django on our honeymoon to Europe. We had a great time with Django in France and Italy and highly recommend international pet travel when it's done right!
We outlined everything our friends and followers need to do to successfully bring their dog to Europe. But what about our international friends who want to take their pet to the USA? Well, guys, this post is for you!
Here is everything you need to do to take your dog to the USA.