Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a scary and often costly condition that occurs in both dogs and cats. Pet insurance may be able to take on some of the financial burden so you can opt for the best diagnostics and treatment for your pet. Let’s learn more about this condition and how pet insurance can help.

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a condition in which one or more intervertebral disks become herniated (protrude from their normal position) and puts pressure on the spinal cord, potentially causing neurologic symptoms.

The backbone or the spine is made up of boney segments called vertebrae that surround and protect the spinal cord. These vertebrae start at the neck and continue all the way down to the tail and intervertebral disks act as a cushion between each one so it’s important that they stay in place.

What are common IVDD symptoms?

  • Severe pain in the neck or back area over the affected disc
  • Standing in a rigid position, reluctance to move or arching of the back
  • Incoordination (ataxia)
  • Muscle weakness (paresis)
  • Inability to move the limbs (paralysis)

If your pet is showing any of these signs, get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible – this is an emergency and requires urgent care!

Accidents alone can sometimes cause IVDD, but by far most cases involve a genetic component. Dachshunds are notorious for suffering from this condition, but IVDD can occur in any dog. Some other breeds that are at a higher risk include:

  • Beagles
  • Poodles
  • Brachycephalic breeds such as Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Pekingese
  • Large breed dogs such as German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers

What about cats? IVDD is most likely to affect middle-aged cats of any breed. They also tend to have severe neurological symptoms that appear more rapidly.

IVDD treatment covered by insurance

As long as IVDD is not a pre-existing condition, pet insurance can help pay for the cost of diagnostics and treatment (Petplan will additionally cover the cost of the sick exam). If your veterinarian suspects your pet to have IVDD, they will most likely recommend multiple diagnostic tests and treatments, making this neurologic disease quite expensive.

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Common IVDD Costs

Sick visit: the exam fee including specialist consultations and recheck examinations

These fees can range from $45-$250 per exam

Diagnostic tests: blood work, radiographs, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Expect to pay $150-$3,000 per diagnostic test

IVDD medical therapy: pain medication(s), sedatives, muscle relaxers, anti-nausea medications, follow-up care

On average expect costs between $50-$250 per visit or refill

IVDD surgical procedure: the time, expertise, and equipment needed to perform the surgery by the veterinarian

If surgery is needed, it can cost between $1,500-$4,000

Chronic care and rehabilitation: acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy, massage therapy

Costs are variable but can range from $60-$200 per session

According to Petplan claims data, one Dachshund’s IVDD care totaled $13,220! Luckily, this pup was insured with Petplan, and her pet parents were reimbursed $11,477.

IVDD treatment options not covered by insurance

No pet insurance will cover pre-existing conditions. So, if your pet was diagnosed with IVDD or showed clinical signs of IVDD prior to enrollment or during the waiting periods, this health condition would not be covered.

Protect your pet – and your wallet – with pet insurance

If your pet’s breed has a high risk of IVDD, consider enrolling in a comprehensive pet insurance policy as soon as possible. This particular disease affecting the nervous system can occur unexpectedly, develop rapidly and sometimes, lead to a lifetime of challenges. Choose a policy that comes standard with breed-related condition and chronic disease coverage.

Compare providers and read each provider’s terms and conditions before you make a decision on which plan works best for your pet.

Mar 20, 2020
Pet Health

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