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How to Care for a Dachshund's Special Needs

Dachshunds have special-care needs related to preserving the integrity of their spinal cords. Know how to properly care for your Dachshund's special needs — or your precious little Dachsie could end up paralyzed or worse.

Dachshunds are chondrodystrophic, an inherited condition that results in dwarfism and makes the Dachshund's spine vulnerable to disc rupture. One hard jump off a high bed, a fall from a porch, or even a sudden twisting movement to catch a ball can rupture a disk.

Remember, not every Dachshund is doomed to suffer this debilitating and painful condition. But caution is warranted. Here are some steps you can take to care for your dog:

  • Steer clear of any spine-twisting activities, such as vigorous tug-of-war games.

  • Keep your dog slim.

  • Exercise for fun and for preventive measure. Daily walks and plenty of activity are important to keep a Dachshund's muscles strong and stable so they can support the spine.

    Just be sure that the activities you choose are the kinds a Dachshund excels in — brisk walks and hikes, organized field-trial or earth-dog competitions, or just playing in the park.

  • Avoid long or steep flights of stairs and jumps off high places.

    Here are some points to keep in mind:

    • Stairs. A big thing to consider when bringing a Dachshund into your home is compensating for stairs. A ramp is a great solution, inside or outside. However, inside, baby gates are a cheaper and easier fix. Then, when your Dachsie has to go upstairs, you can pick him up and carry him. And when he's ready to go back down? Pick him up and carry him again.

    • Ledges, couches, beds. Some Dachshunds are impossible to keep off beds and couches, but jumping back off can seriously injury their backs. The best bet is to keep them off of high places, but if your Dachsie loves to jump, you'll have to take precautions to catch them before they jump down or provide ramps for them to use to get around.

In other words, just like a human with a weak back, Dachshunds need to exercise properly, eat a healthy diet, and avoid certain movements to minimize the possibility of injury. If you follow these responsible Dachsie-owner rules, chances are your Dachshund will never have a problem.

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