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How To Prevent Back Injuries in Dachshunds
Dachshunds are prone to back problems. This article offers advice on how to greatly reduce the chances of a back injury with your pet Dachshund or with the breed in general
The biggest health risks Dachshunds face are obesity and back problems. Too much weight gain can strain their inherently long and somewhat weak back. You thus must be careful to ensure they do not overeat; they need to have their food intake carefully managed.
The best way to manage their weight is through observation and by exercising common sense. If you see your weiner dog getting fat cut their food intake. You also don't want your Dachshund to be too thin so just experiment for awhile until you find a happy medium.
It is ok to feed a doxie a small, healthy table scrap (or two) from time to time but don't overdo it. Many people equate feeding with love and this is understandable. However, a trim doxie will be healthier and live longer. Dachshunds will eat until they are morbidly obese if you let them so don't be an enabler.
Curb Excessive Jumping
Due to their long and inherently weak back, there is a higher risk of strain or injury when a Dachshund jumps or goes up and down stairs. Excessive jumping greatly increases the chance of a back injury.
When your doxie is young and full of energy they will want to jump a lot. You will have to be patient in curbing this behavior through training. Consider buying a pet ramp at some point so they can more safely get on the couch or bed. I'm not saying you have to have zero tolerance for them jumping just don't let them jump a lot or you will be sorry.
It is also important to understand how to properly hold a Dachshund. Both the front and rear portions of their body must be fully supported when holding them.
Strain/Sprain vs IVDD
In case of back strain/sprain, please go to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Signs of a strain/sprain may be inability to hold their head/neck normally, stiffness, abnormal posture, crying when you handle them or in general, not eating, etc. The doxie will need to be confined to a small space and given an anti-inflammatory medication, pain medicine, and possibly steroids. Most of the time, the doxie will come out of the crisis in a few weeks...often in one week.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is the more serious back problem a Dachshund can face. Surgery is often needed and recovery prolonged. A doxie with IVDD can cost you a lot of $$$ too. Signs of IVDD are an abnormal gait, inability to stand/walk, inability to control the bowels or bladder, crying when you handle them or in general, not eating, etc.
You Can Do Everything Right
You can do everything right and your doxie can still suffer a back problem from time to time. My Dachshund, Charlie, has strained/sprained his back three times in 13 years and luckily, came out of it every time. Two of these episodes was when he was very young and due to too much jumping. The third episode was about a year ago and I think this had something to do with my four year old son. He has never had the dreaded IVDD (mentioned above).
Please Don't Be Scared Away
Please don't let me scare you too much. Dachshunds are fantastic and a wonderful pet for you to have. You will never have a better friend.
If you manage a Dachshund's food intake to prevent obesity and minimize their jumping you will greatly reduce their chance of sustaining a back injury.