Here are 10 of the most common health issues that affect Dachshunds plus what you can do to prevent them.
1. Back Issues
As you know, Dachshunds have a unique body style. Throughout the breed’s history, they’ve been bred to have short legs so they could be used to hunt burrow-dwelling animals like badgers. This has led to a dwarfism trait called chondrodysplasia and has left them with backs that are very fragile and prone to injury and disc disease.
As many as 25% of Dachshunds develop a degenerative disc disease called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). It starts with mild limping and soreness and eventually progresses to severe pain, lameness, and possibly even paralysis. If you notice these symptoms developing, quick action and veterinary intervention can greatly improve the outcome.
Here are some things you can do to minimise back issues in your Dachshund:
* Exercise with your dog to promote a healthy weight and strong muscles.
* Discourage jumping up or down from high places, such as furniture, the bed, or the car. This can cause shock to your Dachshunds fragile discs and lead to major back issues.
* When you pick up or carry your dog, be sure to support his weight evenly in the front and the back so you don’t stress his spine.
2. Dental Issues
Dental issues are also a common problem for dachshunds, often due to overcrowding of the teeth caused by the same dwarfism trait that causes IVDD. When teeth are overcrowded in the mouth, they’re more likely to trap food, bacteria, and plaque, which leads to infection and inflammation.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your Dachshund’s teeth:
* Brush your Dachshund’s teeth regularly and provide dental treats and chews to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
* Provide regular dental checkups and professional cleanings to keep the teeth healthy and clean below the gum line where you can’t see or reach with a toothbrush.
Dachshunds are prone to cancers of the skin, anal glands, and fat cells. They have a particularly high risk for mast cell tumors and squamous cell carcinoma, mammary gland cancer, and liposarcoma.
It’s important to check your dog for lumps and bumps regularly. They can often be felt right under the skin’s surface, even when they’re small. Any abnormal developments should be reported to your vet right away.
4. Cardiac Issues
Dachshunds seem to be more prone to Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (DMVD) than other breeds. This issue usually appears when the dog is around eight years old.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is crucial for ensuring that his heart isn’t overworked. Providing regular checkups is also essential for catching this disease early when it can be controlled with medication.
5. Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s Disease, or Hyperadrenocorticism, occurs when a dog’s adrenal glands produce too much cortisone (a steroid hormone). The condition often develops slowly and it’s easy to miss the early signs. Many times, the symptoms are mistaken for natural aging.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease include excessive drinking and urination leading to accidents in the house, even when the dog is housebroken. The dog may also have thinning hair or hair loss and an increased appetite that leads to weight gain.
The best way to prevent or minimise Cushing’s Disease is to provide a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, if you do notice the early symptoms, it’s important to see the vet right away. This condition is treatable with medication which can dramatically improve your dog’s quality of life.
Unfortunately, Dachshunds have been recognized as one of the top 10 breeds with the highest risk of developing obesity. Being overweight greatly increases the dog’s risk of developing back issues because the extra weight of the belly puts stress on the dog’s spine.
Of course, obesity can lead to a host of other health problems, too. Arthritis, heart disease, and some types of cancer have been linked to excess weight.
Overfeeding and lack of exercise are the likely causes of obesity. So, be sure to provide your Dachshund with an active lifestyle and feed a healthy diet in quantities that are appropriate for your dog’s size and activity levels.
7. Liver Disease
Dachshunds are prone to a liver disease called Portosystemic Shunt (PSS). Dogs with this disorder can’t remove toxins from their bloodstream efficiently.
This condition is hereditary, so there’s not much you can do to prevent it. In severe cases, surgery may be required, but most of the time the condition is treatable with a special diet and medication.
8. Non-Spinal Neurological Disorders
Dachshunds are also more prone to non-spinal neurological disorders like narcolepsy, epilepsy, and Lafora disease. Lafora disease is a type of epilepsy characterized by brief, shock-like jerks in a specific muscle or group of muscles that only lasts for a few seconds.
Dachshunds with these issues may present with balance issues, tremors, seizures, weakness, and lethargy. If you suspect that your dog has a seizure disorder, report it to your vet right away. These conditions can often be controlled with medication.
9. Eye Issues
Dachshunds are plagued by a variety of diffident eye issues. Some of them are extremely painful and can lead to blindness without prompt treatment.
Glaucoma and cataracts are two of the most common. They can both be treated and the prognosis is dramatically improved with early intervention that may include surgery.
Another common eye issue for Dachshunds is dry eye, which is characterized by sore eyes, itchiness, and chronic eye infections. It is easy to treat with eye drops or ointment daily.
10. Joint Problems in the Knees and Hips
Thanks to their short legs and long bodies, Dachshunds are also prone to joint problems in the hips and knees. Hip dysplasia happens when the hip joint doesn’t form properly, allowing the joint to dislocate easily. Patella luxation is characterized by a dislocation of the kneecap.
Both conditions are treated with pain medication and anti-inflammatories to maintain quality of life. In many cases, surgery is also required as the issue progresses. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is crucial for managing and preventing joint problems.
Keeping Your Dachshund Healthy
Any of these health issues can detract from your Dachshund’s quality of life or even shorten his lifespan. It would be nice if we could control all of the factors that contribute to these issues, but certain hereditary factors are out of our control.
That being said, there are many things that you can control to help your Dachshund be more resistant to these issues or at least minimize their symptoms.
* Look after his back by keeping his weight under control, using care when you lift or carry him, and minimising high-impact activities like jumping up and down.
* Provide lots of low impact exercise, such as long daily walks, hiking in nature, or even swimming. Dachshunds are a lot more energetic than people think, and you might be surprised by what he can and wants to do to stay fit.
* Wait until your Dachshund is 12 months old before he’s neutered. Neutering at an early age, before the bones are completely developed, could contribute to his risk of developing IVDD.
* Give your Dachshund a health check each week to help spot potential issues early. Check his eyes, ears, and teeth for signs of infection, like foul odors or redness. Check his feet and skin for signs of inflammation, as well as developing lumps or bumps. Any abnormalities should be mentioned to your vet right away.
* Provide regular checkups at the vet. This will ensure that your vet has an opportunity to catch problems early when treatment is more likely to be successful.
Wrapping It Up
You may not be able to control every issue, but you can control your Doxie’s weight, help him stay fit, and be quick to act if an issue comes up. Remember, a healthy dog is much more resistant to these conditions than one who’s obese, inactive, or eating a poor diet. Being proactive about your Dachshund’s health will help him avoid or minimize many health issues.
Written by Nicole McCray