In this article we are going to look at spinal problems that dachshunds may face, the risks and what you can do to avoid these problems. We’ll also take a look at treating these spinal problems.
Spinal Problems in Dachshunds. What are the risks?
Like any breed, Dachshunds are at risk for a number of conditions and diseases. But because of
their long bodies and short legs they are most at risk for spinal problems. One of the most common forms is a condition called IVDD (Intervertebral Disk Disease), actually an umbrella term for a number of problems.
It is important to watch your dachshund’s diet as you do not want your dog to get overweight, the extra weight puts strain on the spine and these dogs are predisposed to slipped or ruptured disks.
Vertebrae are the hard bones that make up the spinal column support. They enclose the spinal cord and are separated by soft tissue called intervertebral discs, which provide a cushion between the bones. IVDD threatens a Dachshund’s health in several different ways.
Spinal problems in Dachshunds – Excess Jumping
Excess jumping and other forms of back stress can cause a rupture of one or more discs, usually toward the rear. IVDD and other back problems occur most frequently by age four but can happen earlier, sometimes as young as two. Simple age can cause the disc to decrease its fluid level, making it less elastic. That also increases the odds of herniation or rupture. Often the vertebrae become more brittle.
If that happens, a number of serious possibilities exist.
As a portion of the spine loses vital support, the spinal cord can be put at risk. If compression occurs, paralysis is not far behind. Constriction of spinal fluid can have a similar effect. Loss of circulation leads to nerve death, since the nerves are cut off from needed nutrition.
Intervertebral Disk Disease – This is one of the common dachshund health problems, selective breeding from parents who show no sign of the disease is one way of preventing this condition.
Look for any instance of inability to raise the rear end off the ground or lowering near the tail. Some other signs include weakness in the rear legs or loss of bladder control.
Wire-haired dachshund’s “spinal walking”
In these extreme cases, treatment – usually surgery – within 24 hours is critical. If left untreated, the result is frequently permanent disability.
Even in less serious cases back pain is present. It can be difficult to detect when a dog is in pain but symptoms include lethargy, difficulty walking up stairs and similar signs in an otherwise active dog.
Treating spinal problems in Dachshund’s
Treatment with corticosteroids (such as Prednisone) is sometimes recommended but entails risks. Apart from the usual risks of long-term steroid use, it is possible to overdo care. Lessening pain is desirable, but if it is eliminated the dog can become too active again, leading to more injury. Injections of Adequan can help promote disc healing.
Whether treated with steroids or just Rimadyl, it is advisable to cage your Doxie or otherwise keep him calm, reducing physical activity. Given the Dachshund’s assertive and active nature that is difficult, but it is essential.
The most common areas for a disc(s) to be affected include the lower back and the neck. Dogs with disc problems in the lower back often hold their back in an arched or rigid position. They may be reluctant to move and may cry out when the spine is flexed or even touched.
Don’t allow the dog to stand on its hind legs, which compresses the spine. Don’t allow the dog to jump down stairs. Yard play should be restricted until the dog has fully healed. Also, always support the entire length of the spine when picking up your Dachshund.
With the right kind of care many Dachshunds recover completely to lead normal, active, healthy lives. But proper diagnosis as early as possible is essential to improve the odds.
I hope I didn’t scare you too much but knowing the spinal problems that dachshunds face is the first step in ensuring you give the best care to your dachshund.