IVDD Pet Insurance in Australia: Comprehensive Coverage

Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD, is a neurological condition that affects a dog’s spine, causing pain, inflammation, and sometimes paralysis.

IVDD reportedly affects 2% of domestic dogs. It is more common in breeds with long backs and short legs, such as Dachshunds and Basset Hounds.

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Taking pet insurance that covers IVDD can be a wise decision, as the treatment for this condition can be very expensive and complicated. Depending on the severity of the disease, your dog may need medication, surgery, physiotherapy, or alternative therapies to recover. The cost of these treatments can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.


Importance of IVDD pet insurance coverage in Australia

Unfortunately, IVDD is a degenerative disease that can cause a host of problems for your dog and can be extremely costly to treat.

Pet insurance that covers IVDD is important because it can help by covering a considerable portion of an eligible vet bill if an unexpected illness such as IVDD occurs. 

When considering the best pet insurance for IVDD, be aware that some pet insurance companies in Australia may designate IVDD as a pre-existing condition, a genetic condition, or an exclusion, and therefore won’t cover it.

This is why it’s so important to read the policy details carefully, to scrutinise the Product Disclosure Statement for information about coverage and exclusions, and to compare different options before choosing a pet insurance policy for your dog.

Pet insurance that covers IVDD Australia

Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance covers IVDD as a specified illness in our Ultimate Care plan, Peace of Mind plan and Accident Plus plan, subject to applicable waiting periods and annual limits.

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Overview of IVDD and its impact on pets

Pet insurance that covers IVDD AustralaIVDD affects the intervertebral discs that help protect the spinal cord. As a result of age, movement, and injuries, the discs degenerate, causing spinal pain.

The discs can also herniate (bulge out) and press on the spinal cord, which is not only very painful but can cause nerve damage and even paralysis. This may occur suddenly, or more slowly over time depending on the type of herniation that has occurred.

Whether onset is sudden or slow, Intervertebral Disc Disease is a serious condition that can impact a dog’s quality of life. In the most severe cases, some dogs with IVDD are euthanised.

Immediate veterinary attention is essential because there are options available to treat the disease and slow its progression, especially if it is diagnosed in the early stages.


Purpose of this guide: Exploring complete coverage options

IVDD can be a very costly condition because of the many diagnostic tests, treatments and/or surgeries required to help an affected dog.

Fortunately, there is pet insurance that covers IVDD, helping you make  decisions based on your fur baby’s wellbeing, rather than your finances. In this article, we will guide you towards finding the most suitable options for you and your precious pooch.


Understanding IVDD and its implications

To learn more about IVDD in dogs, read our comprehensive article:

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in dogs


Explanation of IVDD and its causes

Intervertebral Disc Disease is considered to be a genetic condition which causes the disks in a dog’s spine to degenerate.

Any breed, age or gender can be affected with IVDD. However, certain breeds are more likely to be affected, and obesity and age are risk factors for this condition.

IVDD occurs more commonly in the following breeds:

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Find out more about Pet Insurance for Miniature Dachshunds


Common symptoms and signs of IVDD in dogs

Knowing the signs and symptoms of IVDD can help you determine if your dog is developing the condition. It’s important to be able to recognise the symptoms early and to act quickly, especially if you have a breed most at risk.

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Signs of IVDD can depend on whether the condition occurs suddenly or over time, as well as where the affected disc is located along the spine.


  • Sudden IVDD: the dog may yelp, followed by paralysis, involuntary urination, a reluctance to move and/or distress. Some dogs may vomit, shake or show other signs related to pain or stress.
  • Slow onset IVDD: there is a longer period of pain, weakness, decreasing mobility or muscle wastage.
  • Affected disc is in the neck (Cervical IVDD): the dog may have mobility issues affecting all four limbs, be reluctance to move or turn its head, carry its head cautiously and often held low, and/or have difficulty lowering its head to eat or drink.
  • Affected disc is in the middle back (the Thoracolumbar area): the dog’s rear legs may appear weak and show signs of incoordination or paralysis.
  • Affected disc is in the lower back (the Lumbosacral area): the dog may suffer from incontinence (urinary and/or faecal), have mobility issues including the inability or reluctance to navigate stairs or jump,  and tail movement may be affected.


Potential complications and long-term effects


If you suspect your dog may have IVDD, do not delay in seeking out veterinary attention. Early detection and treatment are vital for your dog to have the best possible outcome.

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Your veterinarian is the best person to discuss the prognosis and best options for your pet should they be diagnosed with IVDD. The longer it takes to act, the faster the dog loses the capacity to recover or walk again. Some dogs end up paralysed for the rest of their lives, while others with severe spinal cord compression are euthanised.


Unsure how serious it is?

Bow Wow Meow policy holders can get a complimentary VetChat consult membership which gives you access to 24/7 online vet consults. If you are unsure about any symptoms your pet is experiencing, or have any concerns about your pet’s health, you can contact them anytime via video or live message.

Find out more about our pet insurance options


Case study

intervertebral disc disease ivdd Bow Wow Meow

Bow Wow Meow’s Hero Pet, Bronte the French Bulldog, battled bravely through the pain and treatment of Intervertebral disc disease.

Bow Wow Meow is proud to have paid out more than $8,000 toward’s Bronte’s life-saving treatment, and to provide cover for hundreds of IVDD claims each year.

Read Bronte’s story here.


Financial protection against costly procedures and post-operative care

According to PetSure claims data from the 2022 calendar year, the average cost of a single treatment relating to IVDD was $3,480, while the highest cost for a single treatment was $31,221.

However, the actual cost of treating IVDD depends on what sort of treatment your dog is getting. Like all veterinary care, the cost of care also depends on where you live and the type of veterinary specialist.


Why is the cost of IVDD treatment for dogs so high?

  • Diagnosis of IVDD may include X-rays, CT scan, MRI or a type of sonogram called a myelogram to identify the affected areas of the spinal cord. These procedures may not be available at many general vet practices, so a visit to a veterinary hospital or specialised practice may be required.
  • Treatment for IVDD will depend on the severity of the disorder. If the damage to the spine isn’t too severe, the vet may prescribe steroids and anti-inflammatory medications. Ongoing monitoring and physical therapy may also be necessary to prevent or slow further deterioration.
  • IVDD surgery costs in Australia can run into tens of thousands of dollars. Surgery is often undertaken to decompress the spine at the site of the affected disc. Dogs that undergo surgery have a better chance of recovery if they are operated on soon after initial diagnosis. Others recover but have subsequent bouts with IVDD if other discs herniate later in life, requiring further treatments and/or surgeries.
  • Rehabilitation post-surgery is important to help dogs regain function and speed up recovery.

While IVDD can be treated, it can’t be cured. Pet parents could find themselves spending thousands of dollars as the disease progresses over time.

Managing a progressive disease like IVDD can be very stressful, both emotionally and financially. That’s why it can be beneficial to have the security of a pet insurance that covers IVDD from the start, especially if you own a breed of dog that’s prone to this disease.

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Why should you get complete pet insurance coverage?

IVDD is more likely to be covered by a Comprehensive pet insurance policy, unless it relates to a pre-existing condition or is an exclusion. Because IVDD is considered to be a disease, rather than an injury, it is not likely to be covered by Accident Only policies.

However, Bow Wow Meow’s Accident Plus plan does cover IVDD as a specified illness.

If you are unsure whether you are covered for IVDD under your existing policy, you will need to refer to your policy documents including Certificate of Insurance and Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for more information.

If you are not covered by your current policy or do not have pet insurance at all, it’s a good idea to find the right policy for your dog’s needs and purchase it before something happens, especially if they’re a breed prone to this disease.

Pet insurance that covers IVDD Australia

Bow Wow Meow pet insurance covers IVDD as a specified illness in our Ultimate Care plan, Peace of Mind plan and Accident Plus plan, subject to applicable waiting periods and annual limits.

Don’t delay, compare our dog plans now


Why complete coverage is crucial for IVDD-related expenses

The costs of diagnosing and treating IVDD can really add up — especially if your dog has a more severe case.

It is difficult to predict the costs of veterinary care for IVDD in each individual case, but comprehensive pet insurance that covers IVDD allows you to have measures in place to get the best possible care for your dog, without the huge financial burden.

While we all want the best for our dogs, a serious health condition like IVDD can come at quite a considerable cost. If we don’t have bottomless pockets, a comprehensive pet insurance plan is a means to ensuring that we can still provide the care our fur babies need.

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Researching reputable insurance companies

Here are some steps you can follow to research reputable pet insurance companies:

  • Check the ratings of the pet insurance companies you are considering on independent rating sites like productreview.com.au and Google ratings. Existing and previous customers can provide a lot of valuable information, especially when it comes to customer service.
  • Make a shortlist of pet insurance companies that suit your needs and budget. You should look for three or four that offer the coverage you need, the price you can afford, and the customer service you expect. 
  • Do some online research of  the pet insurance companies you are interested in. Have a look at their websites to get a feel of the company. Are they focused exclusively on pets, or is pet insurance just one of a range of types of insurance they provide? 
  • Compare the quotes and coverage of different pet insurance companies. You can usually do this online, but in many cases you can also contact the insurance companies directly and ask for quotes and details about their policies and benefits if this is an easier option for you.

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  • Despite all the available technology, “word of mouth” is still the most trusted source of referrals among Australian consumers. Speak to friends, neighbours and family members with pets, as well as people you see at the dog park or on your daily walk. Ask them which pet insurance provider they use, why they chose their provider and if they would recommend them, based on their experience thus far.


Because it is difficult to predict the costs of veterinary care, it can help to have measures in place to help prepare for the unexpected. Pet insurance can help by covering a portion of the eligible vet bill if the unexpected does happen.

Get a quote for 2 months free pet insurance for your pet in the first year.


Evaluating coverage options specific to IVDD

To evaluate pet insurance coverage options specific to IVDD, you should consider the following factors:

The type and level of coverage

Some pet insurance policies may only cover accidents, while others may cover both accidents and illnesses. You should look for a policy that specifically covers IVDD as an illness, and make sure that it is not designated as a pre-existing condition or an exclusion (either for all breeds or specified breeds). You should also check the annual limit, the excess, the co-payment, and the waiting period for IVDD claims.

The cost of treatment and alternative therapies

Depending on the severity and location of the condition, your pet may require surgery, medication, physiotherapy, acupuncture, or other forms of treatment. These can be very expensive, so you should compare the quotes and benefits of different insurance companies and see how much they will reimburse you for IVDD-related expenses.

The reputation and reliability of the insurance company

The pet insurance company may look great on paper, but do they put their money where their mouth is? You should research the customer reviews, ratings, and complaints about the insurance companies you are considering in order to get a fair idea.

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What are some key considerations for complete IVDD coverage?

  • Make sure that the pet insurance company hasn’t listed IVDD as a hereditary condition and/or congenital condition for your dog’s breed, as this may be a way for them to exclude coverage of the condition.
  • Be sure to take out a policy early, preferably during puppyhood, so that IVDD is not considered as a pre-existing condition. If your dog has shown signs of IVDD before commencement of the policy or during the applicable waiting period, the condition will most likely be excluded from coverage.

Pet insurance that covers IVDD Australia Bow Wow Meow

  • Be aware that reimbursement for IVDD claims may be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is always subject to the policy terms and conditions.

Pre-existing condition limitations and waiting periods

Similar to other forms of insurance, any issue that existed or that you were aware of before your pet was insured is generally excluded from cover. Insurance policies are there to protect against the unexpected so for this reason, claims relating to pre-existing conditions are not covered.

A pre-existing condition is:

  • A condition that existed or occurred prior to the commencement date of your first policy period or within any applicable waiting period.
  • A condition that you or your vet were aware of, or a reasonable person in your circumstances would have been aware of.
  • This is irrespective of whether the underlying or causative condition was diagnosed at the time.


Securing comprehensive coverage for peace of mind and protection

Pet insurance that covers IVDD Australia Bow Wow Meow

IVDD is, unfortunately, a very painful and costly disease, and urgent treatment is highly recommended to help relieve compression of the spine. If left undiagnosed or untreated, spinal cord compression will become more severe and the prognosis will become much worse.

Lifelong management is common in dogs with IVDD. For those who have surgery, there is a lengthy recovery period that may include rest, medication and physiotherapy. Some dogs are left with mobility issues that require pet wheelchairs or other devices, and others may suffer from lifelong urinary or faecal incontinence. In some cases, treatment – and the costs it comes with – may continue for the duration of the dog’s life.

This is why it is so important to monitor your dog for symptoms and catch them early on, and to consider investing in the financial security of pet insurance before it’s too late.


Pet insurance that covers IVDD Australia

Bow Wow Meow pet insurance covers IVDD as a specified illness in our Ultimate Care plan, Peace of Mind plan and Accident Plus plan, subject to applicable waiting periods and annual limits.

Don’t delay, compare our dog plans now

This article is written by

Nicky Klugman

Nicky is our Marketing Communications and Content Specialist. She is an animal-lover who is particularly interested in animal behaviour and the relationships between humans and their pets. While growing up, dogs were always an integral part of the family. Nicky is mum to three human sons and a rescue pup called Dobby.

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*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.
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