March 2, 2008
For the most part, Dachshunds are a healthy breed of dog. Due to their long backs and short rib cavities however, they are, as mentioned elsewhere, susceptible to spinal problems. Obesity only worsens the situation. Due to these factors there is a higher risk of strain or injury of their spinal vertebrae when they jump or go up and down stairs. Too much jumping and/or obesity will take you down the path of the dreaded, doxie, back syndrome and you will be sorry.
Back problems associated with Dachshunds are one of the more talked about issues regarding the breed. You cannot enter into an online Dachshund oriented discussion group without soon seeing a thread or an entry regarding the phenomenon. It is an unavoidable topic however as many Dachshund owners have had to endure the agonizing and sad experience of witnessing their good buddy in pain and functionally compromised.
If you manage your doxie’s food intake they will not get obese. This will go a long ways in staving off back problems. Also try to minimize how much your doxie jumps. Consider obtaining a ramp (see the Gifts Page) at some point. It is also important to understand how to properly hold a Dachshund. Both the front and rear portions of their body must be fully supported when holding them.
In case of back strain/sprain, please go to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Signs of a strain/sprain may be inability to hold their head/neck normally, stiffness, abnormal posture, crying when you handle them or in general, not eating, etc. The doxie will need to be confined to a small space and given an anti-inflammatory medication, pain medicine, and possibly steroids. Most of the time, the doxie will come out of the crisis in about one week.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is the more serious back problem a Dachshund can face. Surgery is often needed and recovery prolonged. A doxie with IVDD can cost you alot of $$$ too. Signs of IVDD are an abnormal gait, inability to stand/walk, inability to control the bowels or bladder, crying when you handle them or in general, not eating, etc. There is a site called Dodger’s List which is dedicated to the topic of Dachshund IVDD. The site offers support for those who have a Dachshund in crisis with IVDD.
Charlie strained/sprained his back a few times when he was young due to too much jumping. He overcame this problem with improved training and had not had a back problem in many years. Unfortunately, earlier this year in February, he had an episode. It is always scary cause at first you are not quite sure how bad it is. This episode was like the others and I reacted to it and treated it as described above. I think my four year old Son had something to do with it but I don’t know for sure. The veterinarian told me there does not have to be a cause…that a back crisis in a Dachshund “can just happen”. Charlie’s only significant problem right now is dry eye syndrome.
Dachshunds, of course, can also have a host of other health related issues. I know of a wonderful Dachshund named Oscar who experienced sudden canine blindness earlier this year. I’m sure there are Dachshunds out there who have just about any health related condition you can think of i.e. diabetes, deafness, seizures, cancer, etc.
Well, don’t let me alarm you too much! With a proper diet, some training, and a little bit of exercise, your doxie can live a long and healthy life. Even if your doxie does develop a health problem it is, most of the time, not the end of the world. Doxie health problems can be treated, managed, cured, etc. and the joy to be experienced with your buddy can still be tremendous. A Dachshund’s life span can be as long as fifteen years and you will never have a better friend. I know of a Dachshund that is 19 years old and my doxie, Charlie, is 13 years of age.