Many dachshund owners are aware that their breed's long, low back is a vulnerable point, sometimes leading to painful back ailments, ruptured discs, even paralysis. While dachshunds are more susceptible to spinal injury than other breeds, there are some things you can do to help prevent back problems or delay the onset of degenerative disk disease.
5 ways to watch your Doxie's back
Bred as hunters, with a muscular body and strong legs, your dachshund is by no means fragile. But these tips can help keep your Doxie's spine stronger, longer:
- Limit jumping. Try to minimize activities that jar or shock the spine, like jumping on and off furniture, or running down stairs too often. Even sitting up and begging, while cute, puts added stress on your dachshund's spine. Consider using a ramp for access to beds or sofas, beginning when your Doxie is still young.
- Use the football hold. Don't lift your dachshund up from the forelegs. Instead, try carrying him horizontally like you would a football, with one hand under his chest and his rear legs tucked under and supported by your arm.
- Watch his weight. When dachshunds gain weight it settles in the lower belly, pulling on the spine. Be sure your Doxie is getting plenty of exercise, and if he's still gaining weight speak to your vet about a reduced-calorie diet.
- Use a harness. Some breeders and vets are now recommending a harness rather than a collar for walking dachshunds. A collar pulls on the neck and could cause cervical (neck) or back trauma, especially if you yank on your Dachshund's leash to avoid street hazards, traffic, or other dogs. A harness wraps securely around your Doxie's torso, evenly distributes pressure, and does not jar the spine when tugged.
- Keep your vet in the picture. If your dog is in pain, seems reluctant to lower his neck to eat, appears wobbly even after a relatively minor jump or fall, or experiences rear leg paralysis, he may have a ruptured disk. If caught early, a herniated disk is usually treatable and a full recovery is likely. But it's important to keep your dog quiet and crated, and take him to the veterinarian immediately for treatment.
It's impossible to monitor your energetic Dachshund's activities every minute of the day. But taking a few precautions when possible will go a long way toward assuring a trouble-free back for your irrepressible Doxie.