AVOID SPINAL INJURIES TO YOUR DACHSHUND
BE PRO-ACTIVE!! “Back problems” in Dachshunds can be more accurately described as “spinal problems.” While the most common site for a Dachshund to develop a spinal problem is in the back or thoracolumbar spine, they can also suffer from problems in the neck, or cervical spine.
To clarify further, when we talk about spinal problems in Dachshunds, we are almost always talking about issues associated with Intervertebral Disc Disease. This is a condition in which an intervertebral disc is protruding to some degree, or completely prolapsing, causing some level of compression of the spinal cord, and resulting in pain and/or neurologic dysfunction. Dachshunds are frequently associated with this disease and are likely more susceptible to it than any other breed.
The single best thing that you, as a Dachshund owner, can do to prevent problems associated with this disease is to control your dog’s activity. Ideally, every Dachshund should avoid high-impact activities, especially jumping, high-speed running, and any activity that will put excessive force on the spine.
Some of the common activities that many Dachshunds take part in every day and ideally should avoid include:
1. Jumping up onto or down off the bed, couch, chair, car seat, etc.;
2. Going up and down steps, even at slow speeds! Standard stair cases are not well-suited proportionally to Dachshunds. Going up and down steps for them would be like a person climbing steps that are as tall as they are!;
3. Running at top speed to chase a squirrel, ball, dog, car, etc.;
4. Rough-housing with other pets or humans and Tug-of-war (BIG NO-NO!)
Highly recommended while caring for you Dachshund:
1. Picking Up/Holding – Place one hand under the chest and place your other hand under the dog’s rump. Slowly lift the dachshund, keeping its body level. Continue to support the dog’s back as you hold it. Transition to a “cradle” hold if you wish. To set the dachshund down, slowly lower it to the floor.
2. Leash – Ideally coupled with harness.
3. Harness collar – This is a device that in our opinion, no Dachshund should live without. This is a collar that fits around the dog’s whole upper body and helps distribute the force of the leash over a larger surface area rather than having all the pressure applied to the neck, as would happen with a traditional neck collar. This will certainly protect the dog’s neck and, if they are an aggressive leash puller, may also help prevent some of the twisting and turning motions that can happen along the rest of the spine when pulling hard at the end of a leash attached to a traditional neck collar. The leash and harness collar should actually be considered as a single device that should always be used together, and which every self-respecting, health-conscious Dachshund should demand from their caretaker.;
4. Ramp(s) – These can be bought or constructed and strategically placed throughout your home. Dogs can be trained to use the ramp instead of jumping up and down off furniture or using some stairs.;
5. Your own two hands – If a ramp is too impractical, pick your dog up to place them up and put them down from any place that they would otherwise have to jump. Carry them up and down steps rather than have them do it themselves. Ideally, Dachshunds should be trained to stay off furniture.
6. Measuring cup – This should to be used to measure the amount of food you are feeding your dog. Obesity is one of the most common health issues facing our domestic pets today and, good news, it’s avoidable! It has also been identified as an increased risk factor for Intervertebral Disc Disease.
Every Dachshund owner (and every dog and cat owner for that matter) should ask their family veterinarian to give them guidelines on how much to feed their pet to maintain a healthy body weight. As the pet parent, you are empowered to enforce the recommended diet.