Dachshunds are adorable. They are super smart dogs with interesting personalities. They’re so cute with their long backs, short little legs, and floppy ears! These lovable little animals have aptly been nicknamed sausage dogs for their odd resemblance to sausages.
If you’re lucky enough to be a pet parent to a sausage dog, you’ll have hours of fun with them. Just remember, it’s your responsibility to take care of typical dachshund problems when it comes to their health, and this could involve back problems.
Although their elongated backs are super-cute, these delightful long dogs are susceptible to back issues because of the strain put on them with everyday activities. This guide will explain why these adorable doggies develop back problems and help them with simple ergonomic changes and basic medical interventions.
Why dachshunds have back issues
Over several generations, dachshunds were bred to have shorter legs and a longer back. The dwarf gene that makes them short has an unfortunate side effect; their spinal discs deteriorate faster than other dog breeds of roughly the same size. And this is not all these poor puppies have to deal with!
Dachshunds are up to 12 times more likely to suffer from intervertebral disc disease, also known as IVDD. Dachshund IVDD is particularly prevalent because of the breed’s strange and unnatural shape.
This disabling disease hardens the cushioning between the vertebral disks, causing pain, discomfort, nerve damage. Sadly, it could even lead to paralysis in the hind legs.
How do I recognize dachshund back problems?
Symptoms of dachshund IVDD include:
- Your dachshund could become lethargic.
- They stop wanting to play.
- They have a reduction in appetite.
- Some dachshunds begin to scrape the top of their paws.
- They start dragging their back feet.
- You may notice uncoordinated walking.
- When you touch their backs or necks, they may cringe away or yelp.
- If your dachshund shivers or shakes, it could mean they’re in pain.
- They may become incontinent.
Can dachshunds recover?
Dogs with IVDD can heal over time and eventually get back to leading a relatively normal life. If the vet does not recommend surgery, you should treat your dachshund with cage-rest for six to eight weeks, painkillers, and anti-inflammatories, as prescribed by your vet.
Painkillers can help with mild pain, but more severe pain could require additional medical procedures or even surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask your vet to refer you to a veterinary neurologist who will be able to assist with advanced procedures.
Sadly, you can’t prevent back problems in dachshunds, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. Here's what you need to know about dachshund back problems.
Can I stop my dachshund from having back issues?
Prevention is better than cure. While it’s not always wholly possible to prevent back injury or problems in a dachshund, there are several ways to delay or prevent serious injury. Here are some pointers to help you:
1. Try not to let your dachshund use the stairs
One of the biggest contributing factors to dachshund back injury is stairs. When your furry friend hops up and down flights of stairs, they twist and stretch and turn. If you look at them next to the stairs, proportionately, one step could be taller than their shoulders. As you can imagine, this could cause severe strain!
Of course, it may not be possible to stop your dachshund from ever going up or downstairs, but you can limit how often it happens. Consider installing a baby gate to minimize the number of trips they take. Try to carry them up and down as often as you can. But, be careful of how you pick them up; they need some special care.
2. Pick your dachshund up carefully
With their long proportions, you should pick these floppy-eared sausage dogs up with extra care. If you’re wondering how to pick up a dachshund, this is a simple method:
- Place your hand through their legs onto their chests
- Scoop their bottoms up with your other hand
- Gently lift them up
- Make sure you support their weight evenly and securely
3. Regular vet check-ups are vital
It is particularly important to take your dachshund for regular check-ups at the vet. IVDD can appear overnight, and regular checks at the vet may prevent you from missing any vital signs that your furry friend is suffering.
Your vet should provide you with a plan to support your dachshund’s health or adjust to any necessary changes.
4. Keep your dachshund’s weight in check
Research has shown that managing a dachshund’s weight helps to lower their risk of a back injury. There is less pressure placed on their backs and less strain, especially when they are active. A healthy diet for dachshunds should contain minerals and nutrients that support joint and muscular-skeletal health.
It’s difficult to deny your best friend a treat when those puppy dog eyes are staring at you, and there’s nothing wrong with giving treats in moderation. Remember that maintaining a healthy weight is part of dachshund health.
If you feel tempted to give them treats too often, think about how excess weight can exacerbate back problems in dachshunds. Cuddle them instead!
5. Make sure your dachshund gets regular exercise
Like any other dog breed, your dachshund needs a healthy dose of exercise. Light walks that are not down steep slopes or up any sharp inclines are great for these lovely long dogs.
Swimming and hydrotherapy from a young age can also strengthen your dog without adding additional strain to their backs. It’s also a fun activity you can enjoy with your pet!
6. Invest in ramps around the house
When it comes to preventing and managing injury, a non-slip dog ramp is a solution that can help owners of dachshunds keep their doggies happy and healthy. Jumping on and off beds and couches puts a massive strain on a dachshund’s back. A pet ramp for beds can help your dachshund safely get on and off or gain access to areas that are high.
When you’re looking for a suitable ramp, avoid pet steps. Although the steps are smaller, it still requires the awkward kind of movement that could cause dachshund back issues.
Some sausage dogs get annoyed with steps and jump off anyway. Help your dachshund by getting them a quality ramp that does not have a steep slope.
7. Consider getting a support brace for your dachshund’s back
If you’re worried about your doggie having too many painkillers, or if it’s not helping them enough, dachshund back pain relief could come in the form of a back brace. Consider talking to your vet about getting a support brace fitted.
A support brace not only prevents typical dachshund back problems from progressing but can also reduce some of the strain on your dachshund.
Dachshund care = caring for their backs
If you choose to have this breed of dog, you must know that an essential part of dachshund health care is looking after their backs, since back problems in dachshunds are so common.
As a pet parent to an adorable sausage dog, you will have to make sure their backs are supported and cared for. A happy pet brings joy to every household.