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Back Problems in Dachshunds

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Back Problems in Dachshunds

The incidence of back problems is high in dachshunds due to their structure. Steps must therefore be taken to prevent them from developing such problems.
Dhanya Joy
Last Updated: Feb 21, 2018
Did You Know?
Being a chondrodystrophic breed, dachshunds are susceptible to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). Around 85% of the cases of IVDD involve the back.

Dachshunds make the most adorable pet dogs, and if you own one or are planning to get one as your pet, you should gather as much information as possible on this breed. Though they are a healthy breed that is not prone to many illnesses, they are susceptible to back problems. The owners must therefore watch out for signs of back problems.
Dachshunds and Intervertebral Disc Disease
Dachshunds, Corgis, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Pekingese, Shih Tzus and Poodles are chondrodystrophic breeds. Chondrodystrophy, which is a disorder that is characterized by faulty development of the cartilage, leads to the development of angular deformities of the limbs.
The characteristic sign of such breeds is their disproportionately short limbs. This predisposes these dogs to degeneration of the intervertebral discs. Hansen Type I disc degeneration in common in dachshunds. Both standard and miniature dachshunds are prone to developing back problems due to their structure. The most common health problem that these long-bodied, short-legged dogs tend to develop is the intervertebral disc disease. This disease is characterized by the herniation or rupturing of any of the thoracolumbar discs that lie between mid-to-lower back.
While the outer covering of these discs is tough, the inner section of these discs contains a jelly-like substance. These fluid-filled discs act like cushions between two vertebrae. These provide support and allow the flexible movement of the back in all directions. As degeneration takes place, the inner core of the affected disc may undergo calcification, and the outer covering may weaken or rupture. This may be followed by the herniation of disc material. This may injure the spinal cord. There may be swelling or compression of the spinal cord. This may cause damage to the nerves that are located within the spinal cord. In case of a majority of chondrodystrophic dog breeds, signs of degeneration of discs may be present in the second year of their life.
The signs of herniation of the thoracolumbar discs will vary depending on the extent of herniation along with the quantity of disc material involved. The symptoms of this disease include:
Back pain
Weakness in the hind limbs
Difficulty in walking and climbing stairs
Whining when lifted
Difficulty getting up from a lying position
Reluctance to move
Hunched appearance
Unsteady gait
Progressive weakness in case of chronic herniation
The intervertebral disc disease can also affect the nerves of the colon or the bladder and can make it difficult for the dachshund to urinate or defecate on its own.
If your pet is exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms, it would be best to consult a veterinarian. Here are the tests that may be conducted.
A spinal X-ray can be helpful in confirming or ruling out this condition.
Myelography and spinal tap are other diagnostic procedures that may be conducted to detect the areas where spinal cord compression may have taken place. Myelography is usually conducted when surgery is being considered for treating this condition.
Almost 78% of dachshunds are known to recover from the disc disease without surgery. Surgery may be the preferred treatment option only in severe cases. The surgery involves the removal of the calcified fluid and the decompression of the spinal cord at the site of herniation or injury. Dorsolateral hemilaminectomy is the surgical technique that is employed for treating thoracolumbar disc disease. The treatment also involves the immediate administration of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxers.
Dachshunds should be confined to a crate for at least six weeks and should not be allowed to move around during the recovery period. They must not be allowed to run, jump, and climb stairs. Make sure that their bedding is soft and dry. The bedding must be clean at all times. If your pet is not able to urinate, you may have to learn how to express the bladder.
Therapies like the massage therapy, water therapy, and acupuncture can aid in the healing process. Post surgery wheel-chair assistance may be required to help the dachshund recover faster. Treating dachshunds with back problems could prove to be quite heavy on your pockets, so make sure you equip yourself with pet insurance to bear the expenses with some ease.
Since dachshunds are susceptible to intervertebral disc disease, steps must be taken to lower the risk. Their muscle and legs need to be exercised on a daily basis. Prevent them from climbing furniture and long stairs and keep their weight under control. It is the responsibility of dog owners to take all possible measures for promoting their pet's well-being.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a qualified vet.
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