Dachshunds are famous for their long bodies that coins them the adorable nickname “wiener dog” or “sausage dog”. This long spine is not a natural evolutionary trait, but rather a human-selected trait bred into the genetics of modern Dachshunds.
The long, unnatural spine can cause back problems with the Dachshund breed including vertebrate diseases and increased likelihood and severity of a back injury
In this article, we will discuss the most common back problems Dachshunds face, signs of back issues, and tips to reduce the risk of a back problem developing with your Dachshund.
Common Back Issues With Dachshunds
Were going to cover 3 of the most common back issues that Dachshunds face so you can be totally aware of the risks to your Dachshund and how to keep them healthy.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
IVDD is a condition of the abnormal intervertebral disk that presses on the spinal cord and causes irreversible spinal damage. In extreme cases, IVDD can cause complete paralysis and unmanageable pain that will eventually lead to human euthanasia due to poor welfare.
This condition is known is to affect around 25% of Dachshund, so it is actually very common. While this condition is in many other dog breeds, it is most common in Dachshunds due to their history of selective breeding causing the gene that causes IVDD to be very common.
IVDD is directly related to genetics and cases of IVDD in genetic lines should restrict breeding as it is immoral to knowingly breed animals who are likely to become ill.
Individuals that are going to develop IVDD will usually develop it between age 3 to age 8 years old, so pretty young!
Age-related Back Problems
Aging Dachshunds are more prone to back issues (aren’t we all!). As a dog ages, it’s normal for its body to degenerate. Muscles waste away and bones become more fragile. This makes it much more common for them to suffer an injury to the spine or be affected by spinal disease symptoms.
Older dogs who haven’t suffered from any back issues can develop them in their own age due to regular wear and tear of their body.
Dachshunds will feel the back-related pains of old age sooner and more deeply than other dog breeds due to their unique body shape putting excess pressure onto their spine and neck.
The least common way a Dachshund can suffer back problems is simply from an injury to the neck or spine.
Injuries can happen under many circumstances such as falls, fights, accidents, getting stepped on, awkward landing from a jump.
Back injuries are usually obvious as they come on immediately after an event, not slowly starting to emerge like some spinal diseases.
Signs Of A Back Issue In Dachshunds
Here are some signs to look out for that may indicate a back issue with your Dachshund:
- Obvious pain – yelping, shivering, rapid breathing, hunching back, hiding, not moving, stiff movements. A back issue will cause your Dachshund to be in pain and you will likely be able to easily see this with their behaviours.
- Posture – refusing to raise their head may be a sign of a sore back. A lowered head reduces pressure on the spine. You may also see this in a hunched back, much as a cats arched back looks.
- Appetite change – a Dachshund in pain may not want to eat much or at all. Eating involved movement of the head, neck and jaw which can make back pain worse.
- Aggressive – when hurt dogs (especially little ones) do not like to be touched and may become aggressive if you try to touch or pick them up.
- Bladder control – spinal issues can cause pressure on the bladder and bowel and may cause your Dachshund to have less control over bodily functions. Your Dachshund may need to go to the bathroom a lot more or even have bladder leakage it cannot control.
- Bad balance – back pain can cause mobility issues resulting in wobbling and shaking. If your Dachshund has developed balance issues and is tripping and stumbling more than usual it may indicate something is wrong with the back.
- Paralysis – severe back issues will cause the inability to move. You may see your Dachshund not moving at all or attempting to move and struggling to function. This may see as a dragging of the back legs.
If you see any of these signs, see a vet immediately. Your vet will be able to assess the symptoms and decide the best course of option for your Dachshund. The sooner it is dealt with, the sooner your Dachshund will be pain-free and comfortable.
Reducing The Risk Of Back Problems For Your Dachshund
Dachshunds clearly need extra care to ensure they remain healthy and fit. Here are our tips for reducing back issues for your Dachshund.
- Keep them fit and healthy. Extra weight adds more pressure to the spine. Active dogs also have better muscle tone and structure to support their spine. There are even specific exercises to strengthen a Dachshunds back.
- Use a harness instead of a collar to reduce pressure on the neck.
- Reducing jumping by providing stairs and ramps for your Dachshund to use getting on and off furniture.
- Ensure safe play – don’t encourage full speed running as it is bad for their spine and no high impact games such as tug-of-war to protect the neck.
- Crate your dog when it is home alone to reduce the risk of it getting into trouble and injuring itself when left unsupervised in the home or yard.
While there can be a lot of risks with back issues with Dachshunds, they also make the most loving, loyal, and fun additions to a family.
As long as you know what you are looking for when it comes to your Dachshunds back then there is no reason they can’t live a long and happy life.
The most important thing to note is to always contact a vet if you suspect your Dachshund may have a back problem. Professional care will mean the best welfare outcome for your pooch!