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Dachshund

Dachshund Health Issues: What Dog Owners Need to Know

At A Glance

Dachshunds have long, low bodies due to a genetic mutation called chondrodysplasia. While this makes them look endearingly sausage-like, it can also predispose them to certain health conditions.

Some of the most common dachshund health problems are:

  • Skeletal issues such as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) and hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma
  • Stomach issues such as bloat and food allergies
  • Cardiac diseases like patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and degenerative mitral valve disease
  • Other health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and UTI

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Dachshunds, also called doxies or weiner dogs, are a popular breed with a distinct build. But, the very trait that makes them so recognizable also makes them prone to several health issues. Their long and low body type makes these adorable, stubby-legged pooches most susceptible to spinal and joint issues, as well as eye issues and weight problems.

If you own a dachshund (or are planning to get one), it’s best to familiarize yourself with common dachshund health issues and take the necessary steps to keep your dog healthy and happy.

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Skeletal Issues

Dachshunds were bred to have long, low torsos and short legs to hunt their prey more effectively by squeezing into tight spaces. This unique body shape was advantageous when the dachshund was bred for hunting. But now that they are mostly companion dogs, it is more of a hindrance.

Did You Know? The dachshund’s build is an example of disproportionate dwarfism called chondrodysplasia. Research has shown that this condition is caused by a genetic insertion that resulted in shortened legs among domestic breeds such as corgis, dachshunds, and basset hounds.

A genetic condition gives dachshunds their characteristic short, stubby legs and long body. And while this may make them look adorable, sadly, it also puts them at risk for various skeletal issues.

dachshund lying in the couch

1. Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

Among the most common health problems in dachshunds is intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), which results from the rupturing or herniating of the disks between their vertebrae. These disks act as cushions, so when they rupture or herniate, they cause the vertebrae to rub against each other, which can be extremely painful for your dog.

According to Southeast Veterinary Neurology, IVDD is a prevalent health issue in dachshunds, affecting up to 25% of the breed. It is a hereditary condition, which means your dachshund will be more likely to develop it if it runs in the family.

The age of onset of this disease is approximately 5-7 years, with the standard miniature smooth-haired and miniature wire-haired doxies being the most susceptible. If left untreated, IVDD can lead to paralysis. So, it’s important to take your dachshund to the vet at the first sign of any pain or discomfort.

Symptoms that are characteristic of the disease include:

  • Stiffness in the neck, limbs, or back
  • Dragging of the hind legs while walking
  • Exhibiting pain when running or jumping
  • Increased sensitivity to touch or movement
  • Decreased activity level

2. Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI)

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), or brittle bone disease, is a disorder that inhibits the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that is key in keeping bones elastic and strong. So, dogs with OI are susceptible to broken bones and chipped teeth.

Most dogs only inherit one copy of the gene responsible for OI from their parents. In dachshunds, however, OI is an autosomal recessive trait. This means that the chances of a dachshund inheriting two copies of the mutated gene are higher.

Approximately 12% of all dachshunds carry the OI gene. If a carrier mates with another carrier dog, their litter will be highly susceptible to developing brittle bone disease. This is also why dachshund owners often secure health certificates for purebred dogs and have their dogs undergo genetic testing.

3. Patellar Luxation

Dogs with patellar luxation have a dislocated kneecap. This condition is common in small and toy breeds such as dachshunds, chihuahuas, and cairn terriers. Pups with this condition will often carry their afflicted leg abnormally. Some other symptoms your pet may exhibit include:

  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • Inability to bend the knee
  • Refuses to exercise, run, or jump
  • Avoids putting pressure on the leg
  • Cries out in pain when the afflicted leg is manipulated

If you notice one or more of these signs, take your pet to the vet immediately. If patellar luxation is left untreated, it can lead to joint damage or even arthritis. However, the knee can only be properly positioned by a certified professional — never try to do it yourself.

4. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Dachshunds are especially prone to hip dysplasia, a condition that can be exacerbated by weight gain or injury. Consult your vet immediately if you notice your dog having trouble walking or exhibiting lameness in its hind legs.

Trouble walking is usually accompanied by “bunny-hopping” to keep weight off the ailing hip. In addition, you might notice clicking sounds coming from your dog’s joints — a tell-tale sign of dysplasia.

Elbow dysplasia is also common in dachshunds and other small breeds. It is characterized by the abnormal development of a dog’s elbow joint, which can eventually lead to arthritis. If you think your dog might have elbow dysplasia, take them to the vet for an initial examination and a possible x-ray.

5. Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) is an orthopedic disorder in the femoral head — the round top of the thigh bone. In dogs with LCP, this area breaks down, eventually leading to arthritis.

LCP is among the most common mini dachshund health issues. Standard dachshunds and miniature doxies (as well as their mini mixed breed pups) are prone to it.

Puppies are also highly susceptible to it, with most cases occurring between five and eight months of age. The disease manifests through trouble walking, standing up, or going up and down the stairs — when puppies should be at the height of their physical activity.

In any case, dachshunds should avoid strenuous activity and jumping to prevent injury. Quora user and dog owner Petra Klastova Pappova opines that dachshunds “should not be walking up and down the stairs too much or jump high in the air as it can damage their spine and the use of their hind legs when they are older.”

6. Teeth Issues

Dachshunds, especially miniature dachshunds, are prone to tooth decay and periodontal diseases. Their dental problems can also be attributed to chondrodysplasia since their jaws are too small to accommodate all of their teeth. Unhealthy teeth crowding, plaque, and tartar buildup, as well as gum disease, lead to early tooth loss in dachshunds.

To prevent these problems, dachshund owners should start brushing their pet’s teeth at an early age. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to get your dog used to the process. Brushing two or three times a week is ideal, but daily brushing is even better. You can use a regular baby toothbrush or buy a doggie toothbrush at your local pet store.

Ensure you use canine toothpaste, as human toothpaste may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.

In addition, get your dachshund’s teeth checked regularly by a vet. The vet can spot problems early and recommend the best course of action to keep your dog’s teeth healthy for years.

Eye Issues

Dachshunds are susceptible to various eye diseases typical among dogs, especially as they age. Like humans, dogs are also prone to cataracts and glaucoma during their senior years.

1. Cataracts

Although a dog’s eyesight is not exactly the same as a human’s, its eyes have many similar features. Therefore, dogs are also prone to some of the same eye conditions as humans, including cataracts, where the eye lens develops a cloudy film, preventing light from entering the eye.

According to a study, the age of onset in smaller dogs may vary depending on their gender, age, and breed. Cataracts are a common problem in older dachshunds and can cause blindness. However, younger dogs can also develop cataracts, usually due to injury or disease. WWhile there is no way to treat cataracts, surgery may help restore sight in some cases.

If you notice your dachshund’s eyes seem cloudy or its vision seems to be deteriorating, take it to the vet immediately for an eye examination.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is another eye condition that can affect both humans and dogs. It is characterized by increased pressure in the eye, which can lead to optic nerve damage and blindness.

Two types of glaucoma can affect dogs — primary and secondary. Primary glaucoma is an inherited condition, while secondary glaucoma is caused by a secondary disease or injury to the eye. According to a study, genetic testing before breeding can help limit the spread of primary glaucoma through carrier dogs.

The most common symptom of glaucoma is a red, teary eye. Your dog may also try to rub its eye with a paw or leg, indicating discomfort or pain. One or both eyes may also appear cloudy or bulge out from the socket.

Glaucoma is a severe condition that can be painful for your dog. So if you notice any changes to your pet’s eyes, get them to the vet at the earliest.

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a hereditary disease that affects many dog breeds. It is among the most severe eye issues impacting dachshunds. Two types of progressive retinal atrophy are common in dachshunds — cone-rod dystrophy 1-PRA (cord1-PRA) and cone-rod dystrophy PRA (crd-PRA).

PRA is hard to catch early on as most owners do not notice any changes in their dog’s eyesight until the disease has progressed significantly. The earliest symptom of PRA is usually a change in your dachshund’s night vision. It may have trouble seeing in low light or hesitate to go outside at night. As the disease progresses, they will also find it increasingly difficult to see during the day.

If you notice any changes in your dachshund’s eyesight, take it for an eye examination immediately.

There is no cure for PRA yet, but some treatments can help slow its progression and improve your dog’s quality of life.

black dachshund lying in the bed

Stomach Issues

According to veterinarians, doxies are prone to stomach sensitivities. Some of the most prevalent dachshund stomach issues are food allergies and bloating.

1. Food Allergies

Just like humans, dogs, too, can suffer from allergies. Fortunately, there are specific types of dog food that cater to pups with allergies. If your pet has been scratching more than usual or you notice a change in their bathroom habits, it might be time to switch their diet.

“Runny eyes, nasal discharge, irritated ears, paw licking, and itchiness are all symptoms suggesting an allergy”, shares dog mom Kadi Sofiane on Quora.

2. Bloat

Bloat is a term used to describe two medical conditions — gastric dilatation (GD) and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV).

GD is a condition where the stomach swells due to an overabundance of gas, while GDV implies a worsened GD condition. It causes the stomach to start twisting in on itself, which blocks blood flow to the heart and can be dangerous for your dog.

Your dog may be experiencing bloat if it has a swollen tummy, is anxious and restless, is pacing, or trying to vomit. Other signs of bloat include dachshund breathing problems, rapid heartbeat, and collapsing.

If you notice these red flags, get your pet urgent veterinary care as soon as possible.

checking dog's health

Cardiac Diseases

Although not specific to dachshunds, cardiac diseases affect smaller breeds more often. Other factors, such as a dog’s age, diet, and lifestyle, can also contribute to the development of cardiac disease.

1. Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (DMVD)

Small and tiny breed dogs are especially susceptible to degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD). It usually affects dogs between eight and ten years old, with roughly 30% of canines developing it by age ten.

Your veterinarian will listen for the distinct left-sided systolic heart murmur in your dog’s chest and prescribe treatment if it has DMVD.

2. Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

The most prevalent congenital heart defect found in dogs is Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). Smaller breeds, such as dachshunds, are 2.5 times more likely to have it than larger dogs.

This condition is caused by an improperly closed shunt between the aorta and pulmonary artery. While this opening is normal in newborn puppies, it should close shortly after birth. Symptoms will differ depending on the size of the gap between the two vital blood vessels.

A minor PDA might have no symptoms, and the dog may appear healthy and function normally. However, larger PDAs will result in severe signs such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Unusual heartbeat
  • Loud heart murmur
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor growth or sickly appearance
  • Exercise intolerance

According to a study on the long-term effect of PDA in dogs, a dog with concurrent cases of congenital heart disease and mitral regurgitation typically has a median survival time of 1 month. Dogs with PDA and none of these concurrent conditions are expected to live from 9 to 15 years.

What the Fact?! Chanel, a dachshund, set the Guinness World Record for being the oldest living dog of her breed. She passed away in 2009, aged 21 years.

dog hiding under the pillow

Other Issues

Dachshunds may also suffer from other health problems related to weight, blood sugar levels, etc.

1. Diabetes

When the body’s ability to utilize glucose (blood sugar) properly is damaged, it results in diabetes. Because glucose is the cells’ major energy source, the body must turn to alternative energy sources, such as fat, to prevent cell death due to starvation.

Dogs usually develop diabetes when they are between seven and ten years old. However, other factors may cause your dog to get it at a younger age. Obesity is the main reason for the early onset of diabetes in dogs. A diet of low-quality dog food with lots of artificial ingredients and fat could also be a contributing factor.

“Diabetes in dogs quickly causes cataracts, too”, notes Andie Lenhard, DVM, Southeastern Appalachia.

2. Obesity

According to Banfield Pet Hospital, the Dachshund is one of the most at-risk dog breeds for obesity. Excess weight creates health problems for your dog, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions. In addition, obese dogs have shorter lifespans.

The good news is that obesity is preventable and treatable. You can help your dachshund slim down and stay healthy with proper diet and exercise.

How would you know if your dachshund is overweight or obese? Here are a few signs to look for:

  • You find it difficult to feel your dog’s ribs.
  • You can’t see your dog’s waistline when looking down at them from above.
  • Your dog has excess fat around their hindquarters and/or the base of its tail.

It’s always best to talk to your vet before putting your dog on a diet or weight-loss regimen.

owner hugging her dog

3. Urinary Tract Infections

Dachshunds are also susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are typically caused by bacteria entering the urethra and proliferating in the bladder, leading to an infection.

The most common symptom of a UTI is increased frequency of urination, although your dog may also show other signs such as:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Crying out in pain while urinating
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Blood in the urine
  • Licking of the genital area
  • Frequent bladder accidents in the house
  • A strong odor from your dog’s urinary opening

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, a UTI can lead to serious problems like kidney infections or even renal failure.

A recent study has shown that up to 38% of dogs develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) within six weeks of surgery. So, if your dachshund is to undergo any surgery, remember to keep an eye out for UTI symptoms post-op.

4. Lafora Disease (LD)

Dachshunds can inherit several neurologic disorders, including Lafora disease (LD). While any dachshund can have LD, it is more prevalent in the miniature wirehaired dachshund.

LD is a hereditary, late-onset, progressive myoclonic epilepsy that causes brief, shock-like twitching of one or more muscles or muscle groups.

Seizures, spasmodic movements, tremors, imbalance, excessive sleeping, or weakness are all signs of non-spinal neurological diseases. If you suspect your doxie is experiencing any of these problems, you must take it to the vet at the earliest.

cute brown dachshund

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Dachshunds Usually Die From?

Most dachshunds die of old age, but heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders are among the top health concerns for dachshunds.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Dachshund?

Healthy dachshunds typically live between 12 to 16 years.

Is Dachshund A Healthy Breed?

Yes! The Dachshund is generally considered a healthy breed with a long lifespan. But do dachshunds have health problems? Unfortunately, yes. The breed’s physical structure puts it at risk for certain health problems. With proper care, however, dachshunds can live long and happy lives.

Do Dachshunds Get Sick Easily?

No, dachshunds do not get sick easily. However, they are susceptible to certain health problems, so it’s important to be aware of them and take steps to prevent them.

Are Dachshunds Prone to Stomach Problems?

Dachshunds are prone to several stomach problems, including gastric dilatation (GD) and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat.

 

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.