Dachshunds, while adorable, suffer from health problems like many other purebreds, in part due to their elongated spines and short stature. Intervertebral Disc Disease, Lafora Disease, patella luxation, and hip dysplasia are 4 of the most common Dachshund health issues.
Dachshund owners heavily relate to the saying “Close to the ground, close to the heart,” when thinking about their stubby canines. Unfortunately, Dachshund’s adorably long bodies have led to some health issues being more common in this breed than others. You may wonder, do dachshunds have a lot of health problems?
Below, we will go over 4 of the illnesses that dachshunds are prone to.
What is Lafora Disease?
Lafora disease is a form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy that can affect any Dachshund or other dog breed but is most prevalent in miniature wirehaired dachshunds.
Being a type of progressive epilepsy, Lafora Disease presents with seizures that progressively become worse.
This disease is passed down genetically. To avoid this disease in breeding dachshunds, genetic health tests for Dachshunds are available to check for the Lafora Disease marker.
What are the Symptoms of Lafora Disease?
Common symptoms of Lafora Disease include:
- Shaking, twitching, or shuddering of the head
Lafora Disease Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for Lafora Disease in dachshunds. Once onset begins, it will be a condition you and your pup will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, Lafora Disease is not always fatal. The first step after diagnosis is to work out a treatment plan with your vet. Popular epileptic medications like levetiracetam and phenobarbital can go a long way in preventing seizures.
Other things that may help your Dachshund live comfortably with Lafora Disease are low glycemic index dog foods and minimal exposure to sunlight.
Intervertebral Disc Disease
What is Intervertebral Disc Disease?
Intervertebral Disc Disease, also known as IVDD, is a musculoskeletal disease that affects dachshunds more than other dogs because of their elongated spines. It affects 19 to 24 percent of Dachshunds.
The abnormal vertebrae discs that all Dachshunds have can press on their spinal cords, causing
compression, pain, and damage.
What are the Symptoms of Intervertebral Disc Disease?
Common symptoms of IVDD in Dachshunds include:
- Inability or reluctance to stand
- Shaking or crying
- Only using 2 legs
- Inability to move the tail
- Inability to support own weight or stand for prolonged periods
Intervertebral Disc Disease Treatment
Since Intervertebral Disc Disease is a disease that has been so well documented in Dachshunds and affects such a great number of them, many vets have become experienced in treatment for it.
The first treatment that many veterinarians will try is the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-inflammatory drugs will shrink the swelling of the spinal cord, which will hopefully relieve the symptoms.
If drugs to reduce swelling don’t work, or if the IVDD is too severe, surgery may be required. This surgery will decompress the spinal cord and remove the parts of the discs pressing down on the spinal cord and causing damage.
The dog may need physical therapy after surgery.
What is Patella Luxation?
Especially prevalent in overweight dachshunds, patella luxation, also known as luxating patella, is a kneecap that moves out of place.
Since dachshunds have a tendency to be obese, or bowlegged, their kneecaps can sometimes slip out of place. If you see your Dachshund skipping during walks or when running, there is a chance it’s caused by patella luxation.
What are the Symptoms of Patella Luxation?
A dog’s kneecap sits in a groove on the bottom of its thighbone. In dogs with luxating patella, this groove itself or the kneecap can be malformed, causing what should be a smooth movement to be painful and awkward.
The most common symptom of patella luxation, as we mentioned above, is skipping when walking or running. Luxating patella can be painful, so by skipping, your Dachshund is avoiding weight being put on their hurt knee.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty walking, running, or jumping
- Refusal to walk
- Wide, bent walking posture
- Stiff legs
Patella Luxation Treatment
Veterinarians grade patella luxation on a scale from 1 (least painful/severe) to 4 (most painful/severe). They will base treatment for luxating patella on how high the grade is.
Low-grade patellar luxations are usually treated with steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and lifestyle changes, usually weight loss. If the Dachshund is very overweight, its luxating patella may be fixed by getting down to a healthy size.
For more severe cases, surgery may be required so everything fits together again correctly with no pain. Like with IVDD, your Dachshund may need physical therapy post-surgery.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a malformation of either the ball, socket, or a combination of the two in the hip. In a healthy dog, the ball and socket would fit into each other smoothly, but in a dog with hip dysplasia, these two features can rub painfully where they don’t fit perfectly, or in severe cases, won’t fit together at all.
Hip dysplasia is commonly thought to only affect larger, elderly dogs, when in fact it can affect any dog, regardless of age or size.
Dachshunds are prone to hip dysplasia because of how different their skeletons have become through years of selective breeding for short, long dogs.
What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?
Common symptoms of hip dysplasia include:
- Hopping while walking
- Difficulty getting up
- Swaying gait
Hip Dysplasia Treatment
The first line of defense for hip dysplasia is keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight. An overweight Dachshund will always be more prone to hip and joint problems.
If your Dachshund has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, your vet will try non-invasive treatments first.
- Restricting exercise
- Joint supplements
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
If these methods fail, there are surgical options. The younger a dog receives hip dysplasia surgery, the better the outcome and recovery time. There are a variety of different hip dysplasia surgeries, so discuss surgical options with your vet before deciding which is best.
Dachshunds, like any purebred dog, can suffer from specific ailments.
Making sure to only purchase dogs from reputable breeders, keeping up with regular vet exams, and keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight can help prevent a lot of health problems.
Even when something pops up, if you communicate with your vet about treatment options right away then there is a significant chance your Doxie can live a full, healthy life, even with a health problem.