Dachshunds are design classics. The Spitfire of the Canine world. We just love them.
But this much loved shape comes with a sting in its tail. Or rather in its back. It is called Intervertebral disc desease known as IVDD.
The Dachshund is a short-legged breed. It is not a long-backed one. It is the genetics of the short legs that pre-dispose Dachshunds to back disease.
1 in 4 may be affected at some stage in their lives. This is over 10 times higher than than would be expected in the general population of dogs. We have experienced it in 3 of our dachshunds and it was painful and traumatic for all of us. We were lucky that ours did recover after expensive surgery as they can do. But for many others it is a life threatening or life changing existance.
Just like we four leggeds, all dogs’ discs degenerate with age. Degeneration of a dachshund’s discs happens at a much earlier age than in dogs with normal length legs. Clinical examination will assess the general health of your dog and establish whether the problem is neurological. IVDD often runs in families. Dogs whose parents and other ancestors suffered from IVDD are much more likely also to suffer similarly. Unfortunately just because your dog is fit and in good body condition does not guarantee that it will avoid back problems.
There are various points to observe as a responsible dachshund owner.
Keep your dachshund fit, not fat. They are often greedy.
Adopt a mixed regime of on and off-lead exercise.
Increase the amount of exercise you give your dachshund as it grows from puppy to adult.
Feed a well-balanced diet appropriate to your dachshund’s life-stage.
Wait until your dachshund is fully mature before considering neutering. Unless there are health reasons to do this before 12 months.
Take precautions not to let your dog jump down from furniture or come down stairs. Ramps can be purchased and we alway have a stair gate at the foot of our stairs.
Should your dachshund not regain the ability to walk again all is not lost. A dachshund with paralysed back legs can enjoy a happy and active life with the help of a specially made wheelchair for dogs. I have known many pups on wheels be remarkably agile and lead full happy lives. A very game one once jumped up and bit Andy on the knee.
Charlotte Baldwin runs Sausage Dog Walks South Wales and is raising funds to assist with equipment for Dachshunds with IVDD especially those which are adopted or rescued. Through her tireless work she has been supporting affected dogs by providing hydrotherapy sessions as well as strollers.
Look at her Facebook page Dedicated to Dachshunds with IVDD