As a breed, Dachshunds are highly prone to back problems. While the most common site is the thoracolumbar spine, the neck and cervical spine can also be affected. Known as Intervertebral Disc Disease, it involves an intervertebral disc that either protrudes to some degree or has prolapsed completely, resulting in compression of the spinal cord, causing acute pain and/or neurological dysfunction.
As with many other medical issues, prevention is key. And that means controlling your dog’s activities. If possible, avoid high-impact ones like jumping and running at high speeds, along with any other activity that puts excessive force on your dog’s spine. Included on this list of “no no’s” are:
Jumping onto or off beds and couches, chairs and car seats, etc.
Going up and down stairs. Most staircases aren’t well suited to a Dachshund’s short legs and long body.
Chasing after a squirrel or a ball, another dog or a car.
Rough housing with other pets or with people.
Games of tug-o-war.
To minimize the risk of injury, there are numerous physical aids you can use, including:
A harness collar. Fitting around your dog’s entire upper body, it helps distribute the force of the attached leash over a larger area, compared with a traditional neck collar, where all of the pressure is applied to your dog’s neck. Particularly helpful if yours is an aggressive “leash puller,” it may also prevent some of the twisting and turning movements that invariably affect the rest of your dog’s spine.
A dog crate. This is the most effective way of keeping your dog from engaging in any of the above-mentioned, high-risk activities when you’re not home. A protective device not a punitive one, when implemented properly, it can actually provide your dog with the sense of being in a calming and cozy cocoon. Ensure the crate is roomy and comfortable, and with patient training accompanied by treats as a reward, your dog should soon consider that crate “home.”
Dog ramps. Whether bought or constructed, ramps can be strategically placed throughout your home, and your dog trained to use them instead of jumping onto and down from furniture or going up and down at least some stairs.
A measuring cup. With obesity identified as a major contributor to Intervertebral Disc Disease, it’s easily preventable by maintaining your Dachshund’s weight and measuring the amount of his food. To determine your dog’s optimum weight, first consult with your vet.
As the old adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”