Dachshund 101: 8 Common Health Issues & How to Prevent Them
Updated May 12, 2023.
If you're looking for a small dog with a big personality, then the Dachshund might just be the breed for you. These pups are known for their loyalty, curiosity, and vigilance, making them excellent family pets.
However, if you're thinking of bringing a Dachshund into your family, it's important to be aware of the most common long-haired Dachshund health problems. Knowing about potential health issues can help you support your dog's health, keep an eye out for symptoms, and know when to call the vet. Additionally, paying attention to your Dachshund's movement, diet, and grooming can go a long way in keeping your pup healthy.
8 Common Dachshund Health Issues
Here are the eight most common health issues in Dachshunds.
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye problems
- Stomach issues
- Dental issues
- Hind leg problems
- Skin issues
- Intervertebral skin disease
1. Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common hereditary condition in Dachshunds that can cause significant joint problems. While it's present at birth, signs might not be noticeable until the dog grows older. This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn't develop properly, which causes the head of the femur and hip socket to not fit perfectly. As a result, the loose joint rubs on the socket, leading to pain and degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Early signs of hip dysplasia include weakness and pain in the hind legs, limping, and a "bunny hopping" gait.
If you suspect that your Dachshund may have hip dysplasia, your vet can make a diagnosis through X-rays or a radiograph. It's important to note that obesity and unbalanced nutrition can worsen the symptoms of hip dysplasia.
How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia
Feeding your dachshund a diet high in iron-rich foods, such as beef, chicken, and leafy greens, can help combat this condition. Additionally, moderate exercise is essential to keep your Dachshund physically fit, which can help alleviate symptoms of hip dysplasia.
2. Eye Problems
Some common eye problems in Dachshunds are:
- Cataracts - This condition is a common cause of blindness in older Dachshunds. Signs of cataracts include the lenses of the eyes becoming more opaque and appearing cloudy instead of clear. If left untreated, cataracts can cause inflammation and may even lead to glaucoma.
- Glaucoma - This painful condition is caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. If left untreated, it can quickly lead to blindness. Symptoms of glaucoma include squinting, watery eyes, bluing of the cornea, and redness in the whites of the eyes.
- Dry eye - Also known as keratoconjunctivitis, dry eye is a common condition in Dachshunds. This occurs when the tear ducts don't produce enough tears to lubricate the eyes, or when the tears aren't capable of keeping the eyes moist. Symptoms of dry eye include sore, itchy eyes, and infections.
How to Prevent Eye Problems
Cataracts in Dachshunds can't be prevented, but a healthy diet and avoiding toxins may help slow their development. Glaucoma also can't be prevented, but it can be treated with medications to reduce pressure in the eye. Fortunately, dry eye can be managed with prescription drugs that dramatically improve symptoms, so it's important to consult with your vet if you notice any changes in your Dachshund's eyes.
3. Stomach Issues
The Dachshund is a breed that's known for having a sensitive stomach. Some Dachshunds are sensitive to certain foods or abrupt changes in their diet. The breed is also prone to stomach issues resulting in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, also called gastroenteritis. Additionally, Dachshunds may suffer from food allergies, which can present as stomach or skin problems.
If you notice any signs of stomach issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, it's important to take your Dachshund to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
How to Prevent Stomach Issues
Keep your dog up-to-date with all recommended veterinary checkups, vaccinations, and parasite prevention. In addition, feed them a balanced, high-quality diet and watch their weight.
4. Dental Issues
Miniature Dachshunds' health problems include dental issues because they have 42 teeth. They are particularly vulnerable to abscesses, and food can get stuck between their teeth, leading to plaque buildup and decay. The breed is also at risk for periodontal gum disease, which damages the teeth, gums, bone, and supporting structures.
How to Prevent Dental Issues
To prevent dental disease in your Miniature Dachshund, it's recommended to brush their teeth daily with toothpaste formulated for dogs that can be swallowed. Additionally, dental chews can help reduce plaque buildup. Regular professional teeth cleanings by a veterinarian are also crucial for maintaining good dental health.
5. Hind Leg Problems
The dachshund's short legs and long torso makes it susceptible to hind-leg weakness. Here are two common types of illnesses affecting dachshunds' hind legs:
- Bowlegged syndrome leads to misaligned bone growth, causing the hind legs to bend and the bones to become deformed. This can be painful for the dog and result in the tibia being turned inwards towards the body.
- Luxating patella is another hind-leg condition that can affect Dachshunds. It occurs when the kneecap moves out of place or becomes misaligned, causing a skip in their step or making them run on three legs. It's often congenital and typically becomes noticeable around 4-6 months of age.
How to Prevent Hind Leg Problems
In severe cases of bowlegged syndrome, the only solution is to surgically straighten the bones to make walking more comfortable for the dog.
While luxating patella cannot be prevented, it can be managed with physical therapy and exercise. Strengthening your Dachshund's leg muscles can help prevent their kneecaps from slipping out of place.
6. Skin Issues
Two of the most common diseases that can cause skin issues in dachshunds are Cushing's disease and Acanthosis Nigricans.
- Cushing's disease occurs when the adrenal glands overproduce the hormone cortisol, which can lead to several serious illnesses, including kidney damage and diabetes. Symptoms can include obesity, lack of energy, and extreme thirst. Additionally, Cushing's disease can cause skin lesions, skin thinning, and hair loss on the flanks, neck, and perineum.
- Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin condition that is often found in Dachshunds, especially in shorthaired Dachshunds. Symptoms include darkening and thickening of the skin (often in the folds), bacterial skin infections, and hair loss. Your Dachshund's skin may also appear flaky or scaly.
How to Prevent Skin Issues
If your Dachshund is experiencing skin inflammation, your vet may prescribe antihistamines or anti-inflammatory medications to relieve symptoms. Additionally, bathing your dog with a hypoallergenic shampoo can help soothe inflammation and relieve itchiness due to some skin conditions.
In certain cases, adding probiotics and omega-3 fatty acid supplements to your Dachshund's diet may improve their skin health. However, it's important to consult with your vet before adding any supplements to your dog's diet to ensure that they are safe and effective.
7. Intervertebral Disc Disease
The Dachshund's unique body structure, with short legs and a long spine, makes them prone to back issues. Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common health concern for Dachshunds. Most Dachshunds start experiencing back problems between 3 and 8 years old. Symptoms of IVDD include:
- Inability to move limbs
- Unwillingness or inability to walk
- Difficulty urinating
- Moving cautiously
- Shaking or trembling in response to pain
How to Prevent Intervertebral Disc Disease
There is no way to prevent IVDD completely, but you can minimize the risks by:
- Preventing obesity
- Reducing high-impact activities
- Walking your dog with a harness rather than a collar
Dachshunds are more prone to seizures than many other dog breeds. Signs that your Dachshund may be having a seizure include sudden spasms, paddling, or loss of control of bowel movements. Additionally, metabolic problems, such as low blood sugar, organ failure, or exposure to toxins, can also cause seizures. Some seizures, referred to as idiopathic seizures, have no known cause.
If your Dachshund experiences a seizure, it's important to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Seizures can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as a brain tumor, stroke, or trauma.
How to Prevent Seizures
While it's not always possible to prevent seizures, you can reduce risk factors by minimizing stress and limiting changes to your Dachshund's environment. Additionally, feeding your Dachshund a healthy diet to prevent obesity and diabetes can help reduce their risk of seizures. Finally, regular veterinary checkups are also crucial for maintaining your Dachshund's overall health and detecting any potential health issues early on.
A Healthy Dachshund Is a Happy Dachshund
While health conditions can be concerning for Dachshund owners, many are treatable or manageable with proper veterinary care. By being aware of common health issues and taking steps to prevent them, such as feeding a balanced diet, keeping up with checkups, and reducing stress, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy. Consider purchasing a pet insurance policy to help cover veterinary expenses in case of illness or injury, so you can focus on providing your Dachshund with the care they need.