Recognizing Common Health Issues in Dachshunds

In general, your Dachshund will probably stay pretty healthy throughout most of her life. Know how to recognize common health issues in Dachshunds so you can get your dog the right treatment right away. When treated promptly, most conditions can be treated successfully.

Identifying back injuries

Back injuries are the most common type of Dachshund health problem. The Dachshund's funny body shape makes them particularly susceptible to CIDD — essentially a ruptured or leaking disk. When this happens, every second counts; consequently, it is important to know how to recognize a back injury as soon as possible.

Spinal cords can't take much pressure. A ruptured disk that presses on the cord can quickly deprive the spinal cord of essential blood and oxygen, causing lasting damage.

When a back injury occurs, you must know what to do, and you must do it fast. However, you can't do anything if you don't know that your Dachshund is having a problem in the first place. Look for the following signs:

  • Shivering — especially when combined with unusual inactivity

  • Refusal to get up and play, even for food

  • A yelp when you pet your Dachshund or try to pick him up

  • A pulled-in head, arched back, or any other strange position

  • A refusal to bend down to the food or water dish to eat or drink

  • Limping of any kind

  • A “drunken” rear end, which moves but looks as if it isn't completely under control

  • Dragging of the back legs

If your Dachshund shows any of these warning signs, call your vet immediately and drive immediately to the vet's office or nearest pet emergency facility. Don't wait; you have just hours to act. Immediate surgery on a Dachshund with a Type I ruptured disk has a success rate around 95%, but if you wait longer than 24 hours after a disk injury, the success rate drops to 5 percent.

Other serious health issues

Bad backs aren't the only health problem that Dachsies experience. Take a few minutes to learn how to recognize Dachshund health issues before permanent damage occurs.

  • Bloat—Bloat occurs when the stomach twists on itself, cutting off the blood supply to several organs. Without immediate treatment, bloat is fatal.

    If your Dachshund suddenly starts pacing, salivating, and acting upset, nervous, or in pain—or it just seems like something is very wrong—call your vet immediately. The only hope is emergency surgery.

    Some experts theorize that you can prevent bloat by keeping a dog from eating or drinking too quickly.

  • Canine epilepsy—a seizure disorder that happens in some Dachshunds.

    If your Dachshund suddenly goes stiff, starts shaking, or becomes completely non-responsive or totally limp, call your vet immediately. You can't prevent epilepsy, but it is treatable with medication.

  • Hypothyroidism—a disorder in which the thyroid doesn't secrete enough of its hormone.

    If your dog starts showing signs of weight gain, fatigue, sluggish behavior, dry skin, hair loss, and severe behavioral changes. Your vet can treat the condition with medication.

  • Progressive retinal atrophy—a degenerative eye disease that eventually results in blindness.

    There are often few symptoms until the dog is almost completely blind; however, some dogs will show reluctance to go down stairs or go into dark areas (night blindness can be an initial stage of the disease). In some dogs, the eye lens looks more opaque or cloudy. There is no treatment for PRA; however, blind dogs can live a happy life, with a little extra care.

    Longhaired Miniature Dachshunds may be particularly prone to PRA. However, your breeder can perform a DNA test to determine whether a dog is a carrier for PRA. Find out more information about the test from the DCA.

  • Allergies—skin problems that are caused by allergies — possibly to environmental contacts and inhalants or food.

    If your dog develops rashes, itchy sores, and plenty of scratching, switch to a higher quality food with a single protein source and consult your vet.

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