Despite their unabashed natures, the spunky dachshund is prone to certain health problems. However, dachshund owners can keep their furry friends happy and healthy by being aware of potential problems, bringing their pets to their veterinarian on a regular basis, and providing them with a healthy lifestyle. This article will help you identify 22 common dachshund health problems and concerns.
1. Intervertebral Disc Disease
Intervertebral disc disease is one of the common health problems dachshund owners may deal with. One of the dachshund’s most identifiable characteristics is its long back, which gives it its classic weiner shape. Though the long back is one of the features that contribute to the breed’s overall charm, it can be problematic for them, causing intervertebral disc disease.
You can help prevent the disease by helping your doxie maintain a healthy weight, walking them with a harness instead of a collar and leash to prevent neck and spinal column stress, and reducing the risk of back injuries by curtailing high-impact activities, such as jumping off high furniture or steps.
Dachshunds have voracious appetites and would happily eat all day long if given the opportunity. However, overeating can lead to obesity in these little dogs, making them more prone to IDD, diabetes, and other health problems. You can help your pet maintain a healthy weight, though, through measured and scheduled meals consisting of vet-recommended dog food that is high in nutrition and low in calories. Another way to prevent obesity is to adopt a routine of daily walks and play, which shouldn’t get too rough in consideration of their spines.
3. Luxating Patella
Another common dachshund health problem is luxating patella. The patella is the dog’s kneecap, just as it is in humans. In smaller breeds, such as the dachshund, the patella can luxate, or become dislocated from the femoral groove. The severity of this health problem can vary from dog to dog. Dogs are born with this disease, so a vet can typically detect it at a puppy’s first check-up. A healthy weight and gentle walks can help a doxie with a luxating patella. If, however, the disease progresses to a more severe level, surgery may be necessary.
4. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is another congenital disease that typically occurs in larger dog breeds. However, it is a health concern for smaller dog breeds, like dachshunds, as well. While dogs are born with the genetic condition, they can still live a very full and active life with help from their owners. Feeding them a healthy diet and making sure they get gentle daily exercise can lower the risks of doxies developing severe symptoms. Additionally, a vet can recommend supplements to ease any existing discomfort associated with hip or elbow dysplasia.
5. Cushing’s Disease
A more serious dachshund health problem is Cushing’s disease — a severe and potentially life-threatening health problem. There are two types of Cushing’s disease, which are pituitary-dependent and cortisol-related. While 80 – 85% of Cushing’s disease in dogs is of the pituitary-dependent type, the other 15 – 20% of cases stem from an overproduction of cortisol by a tumor in the adrenal glands. Some of the warning signs of this disease to look for in a dachshund are:
- A noticeable pot-belly look in the abdomen
- Increased lethargy
- Loss of fur or bald spots
- Thinning skin
- Drinking more water due to thirst
- Having to go out to urinate more often
- Appearing hungry even after eating
- Unusual panting
A vet can remove the tumor if the disease is caused by excess cortisol. However, this type of surgery comes with its risks, so medication is often prescribed instead. Unfortunately, the medications can also have negative side effects, so a vet should monitor the dog on a consistent basis.
Dogs, like their humans, have thyroid glands in their necks that make thyroxin, a metabolism-controlling hormone that turns their food into fuel. With hypothyroidism, their glands don’t function properly and do not make enough of the hormone. It typically occurs in dogs ages four to ten. Some of the warning signs of this condition are:
- Flaky skin
- A dull coat
- Hair loss on rear legs, tail, and trunk
- Black patches on the skin
- Weight gain
- Muscle loss
- A slower heart rate
- Infections of the ears and skin
- Intolerance to cold
Fortunately, the condition is not life-threatening, and there are medications that you can give your dog daily to mitigate the symptoms. Although the drugs must be given for the rest of the dog’s life, they are relatively inexpensive.
7. Liver Disease
One of the more serious dachshund health problems, liver disease, is sometimes a genetic disease. However, there are several other potential causes for this condition, including old age, infection, or trauma. Dachshunds can also contract the disease as a result of certain medications’ side effects or through toxic substances they ingest. Some of the warning signs of liver disease are
- Blood in the dog’s stool or urine
- Jaundice that presents as yellowish eyes, tongue, or gums
- Confusion, weakness, or unsteadiness
- A build-up of fluid in the dog’s stomach
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Diarrhea or vomiting
A vet can determine how severe a dog’s condition is and recommend a treatment option. This could be simply making a change to the dog’s diet or adding a recommended supplement. If the disease is caused by an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. In a more severe case, a vet may have to perform surgery.
8. Red Eye Disease
Dachshunds can have one or both eyes that look red and inflamed. This is sometimes caused by inflammation of the eyelids, sclera, cornea, or other parts of the eye. Though the condition itself is not usually life-threatening, it could be a symptom of an underlying disease.
9. Dry Eye Syndrome
Another eye condition to which dachshunds are susceptible is dry eye syndrome. This condition typically presents with mucus being discharged from the dog’s eyes and scratching of the eyes. The veterinary term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, which refers to the dog’s level of tear production being decreased. This condition can lead to another one called pigmentary keratitis and even, left untreated, to blindness.
10. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is a common health concern for dachshund owners. It is the gradual loss of vision in the eyes. Though this eye disease can be found in other dog breeds, it is especially prevalent in miniature long-haired dachshunds. You may notice your doxy bumping into furniture or other objects during the daytime as well as at night even in their familiar surroundings. The retina cells gradually begin to die away from this disease, and there is no treatment at this time.
Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when the optic nerve is damaged due to a build-up of pressure in the eye. Just as in humans, the disease can not be completely cured, but its progression can be slowed. In doxies, the eyes may redden and then bulge and become cloudy at the onset of the disease. If your dog has glaucoma, you may also notice them showing signs of eye pain and blurred vision. Sometimes, the dog may even have bouts of vomiting and an appearance of general ill health.
12. Eye Ulcers
Corneal ulcers, often referred to as simply eye ulcers, can be found in almost any dog breed, but they are more of a health concern with dachshunds. Since these corneal ulcers can appear quickly and without warning, they are often invisible. They can worsen if not treated, so it is important for you to recognize the signs of a possible ulcer and get your dog to the vet quickly. These symptoms include weeping eyes, craters on the surface of the eyes, redness, inflammation, squinting, or scratching at their eyes. Once the ulcers are treated, they heal quickly.
13. Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (DMVD)
DMVD is a cardiac disease that targets the heart’s mitral valve. This is a serious health problem because the disease is genetic and can not be prevented by diet and exercise. If a veterinarian detects a new heart murmur in a doxie during a regular examination, this may indicate the onset of DMVD. Other symptoms include a cough, labored breathing, weakness, and not being able to tolerate exercise. If detected early, your dog’s vet can prescribe medication that will slow the onset of congestive heart failure.
14. Lafora Disease
A common health problem for miniature wire-haired dachshunds is Lafora disease. This is an autosomal disease caused by a recessive, mutated gene. The condition causes epileptic symptoms due to the dog’s inefficiency in processing starch into sugar. The starch platelets, which are insoluble, build up in the dog’s central nervous system causing jerking, generalized seizures, or complex seizures. In its later stages, the disease can cause loss of control of body movements, blindness, and dementia.
Diabetes is somewhat common among all dog breeds, but it can be more common among smaller breeds like dachshunds. This common dachshund health problem occurs when the dog is not efficiently utilizing the insulin produced in the liver. This, in turn, causes the dog’s body to produce more glucose, which exacerbates the level of blood sugar. Obesity is a major factor in the onset of diabetes, so maintaining a healthy weight is essential. Signs of diabetes include
- Intensified thirst or possible dehydration
- Hair loss
- Having to urinate more often
- A change in weight
- Changes in vision
A vet can prescribe a treatment plan for a doxie with diabetes. A major component of the treatment will typically be a change in diet. Exercise is also vital to managing diabetes. The good news, though, is diabetes is preventable with a proper nutritious and balanced diet and regular exercise.
16. Otitis Media
Since dachshunds have those wonderful long floppy ears, this makes them more susceptible to ear infections. Additionally, being low to the ground, they can accumulate more dirt and debris. The floppy shape of the ear allows less air to circulate, often promoting more moisture to create a breeding ground for bacteria. Due to the very structure of their ears, dachshunds can periodically suffer from otitis media, or inflammation of the middle ear.
Doxies will often show symptoms such as shaking their heads, scratching at their ears, rubbing their ears along the floor, or turning their heads toward the side with the infected ear. A vet will often prescribe an antibiotic and/or ear drops to cure the infection. You can prevent otitis media by keeping your dog’s ears clean and dry.
17. Yeast Infections of the Skin
Yeast infections in doxies are caused by an organism called Malassezia pachydermatis. Yeast infections can cause loss of hair, make the doxie’s coat look greasy, cause discharge, and make its skin crusty. The infection often affects the ears, belly, under and between the toes, and the neck. If your doxie is constantly scratching or chewing on its paws, this may indicate a yeast infection. Luckily, once a vet diagnoses the problem, they can treat your dog with special sprays, creams, shampoos, or rinses. There are also medications a vet can prescribe if the topical treatments are not working.
Dermatitis is a skin infection or condition that can be caused by a dog’s scratching. The underlying itch could be a result of allergies or from a product used to groom the dog. Therefore, the best solution to dermatitis is to ask a vet for help in identifying the allergen and then removing it.
19. Pes Varus and Pes Valgus
Dachshund puppies can be born with either Pes Varus or Pes Valgus, both of which are angular limb deformities. Pes Varus causes the legs to bow inward, while Pes Valgus causes them to bow outward. Symptoms begin to show as the puppy gets older and the growth plate closes sooner than normal. It will often appear when a puppy is between four and six months old, but it can appear later than that. If the condition progresses to the point in which the dog experiences lameness, a vet will most likely need to perform surgery.
20. Stomach Issues
Dachshunds can suffer from stomach issues due to their deep chests and their low-to-the-ground builds. For example, if you walk your doxie in the snow or rain, and they remain wet for too long, they could end up with stomach cramping and pain. They are also susceptible to bloat, or gastric dilation-volvulus, in which their stomachs become distended. As a result of bloat, their stomachs can twist, cutting off maximal blood flow to it and to other organs. Therefore, if you notice your dog excessively drooling, vomiting, having changes in bowel movements, bleeding, or a change in appetite, you may want your vet to diagnose the problem and prescribe the necessary treatment.
21. Dental Issues
Dachshund owners often find their dogs having dental health problems. Part of the problem is that they have a full set of teeth inside a narrow snout and mouth. As a result, they often find that cysts or tumors have formed on their dog’s gums or that their teeth have fractured, gotten cavities, or developed abscesses. They may also notice their dog’s teeth are misaligned. If you notice your dog chewing on only one side of their mouth, drooling, panting, or avoiding eating, this may be a sign of dental issues or gum disease. However, the best way to prevent any issues from occurring is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and make sure they visit the vet.
Cancer is a word that can strike fear into the heart of any dog owner, but, unfortunately, there are a few types of cancers that are common dachshund concerns. These are mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinoma, liposarcoma, and mammary gland cancer. Signs to look for include open sores that never heal, a loss of appetite and weight, a bad odor, odd lumps, lethargy, stiffness, and limping. On the bright side, keeping your furry friend healthy with the right nutrition and exercise can help promote a long and full life for them.
Caring For Your Dachshund
A happy, healthy dachshund can have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. You can make the most of your time together by caring for your dog and ensuring its physical and emotional well-being. Here are some tips.
- Give your dog the vet-recommended serving of high-quality dog food appropriate for their age and weight.
- Take your dog for regular walks that do not overly exert them. For instance, two to three shorter walks throughout the day may work for you and your doxie.
- Play with your dog to stimulate them mentally, thereby creating an emotional bond with them, but, make sure they do not hurt their spines by jumping from high places or getting overly rough.
- Bathe your doxie once a month with a shampoo made for dogs, but do it more often if they tend to get dirty. Then, you can then check over their skin and coat for ticks, fleas, or skin irritations.
- Brush your dog regularly. Doxies have three different kinds of coats, which are wire-haired, smooth-coated, and long-haired, so your dog’s type will inform how often to brush.
- Brushing your dog’s teeth once a week and bringing them to the vet for a professional cleaning annually can prevent any dental issues.
- Clean your dog’s ears weekly. Check outside for any mats, ticks, or fleas. Check inside for any redness, swelling, sores, or discharge.
- Clean your dog’s water dish daily and always fill it with fresh, clean water.
- Bring your dog to the vet for regular health check-ups.
By caring for your doxie and providing a safe, loving environment for them, you can enjoy many wonderful years together.
Summary of Common Health Problems Seen in Dachshunds
|Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)||pain, not willing to move, arched back, weakness, uncoordinated leg movement, incontinence|
|Obesity||can not feel ribs or spine, waistline not visible, round face, sluggish, tired, panting, needs help getting on furniture or into the car|
|Luxating Patella||dog may skip a beat when walking, knee joint locks up, not using a leg|
|Hip and Elbow Dysplasia||not as active, limited range of motion, swaying when walking, hind end lameness, muscle mass lost in thighs, movement causes joint to grate|
|Cushing’s Disease||an increase in thirst, appetite, and/or urination, decrease in activity, hair loss, chronic skin infections, panting, thin skin|
|Hypothyroidism||shedding more than usual, dull and listless, tired, sleeping more, inactive, weight gain, dry skin and hair, gets cold easily|
|Liver Disease||vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, weight loss, decreased appetite, fatigue and sluggishness, drinking less water|
|Red Eye Disease||rubbing eye on the carpet, squinting (especially in light), closing eyes, cloudy cornea, eyes are watery, red mass under the eyelid, swelling of eyelids|
|Dry Eye Syndrome||pain, eye irritation, redness in eye, yellow mucosal drainage from eye|
|Progressive Retinal Atrophy||night blindness, day vision worsening, cloudy-looking eyes, eyes loss of pigment, cataracts, dilated pupils|
|Glaucoma||watery eyes, pain, eyeball is bulging, eye has dilated pupil and/or cloudy, bluish appearance|
|Eye Ulcers||blinking or shutting the eyes, loss of appetite, hiding, rubbing the eye with paws or on the carpet, tearing of the eye, unusual discharge from the eye, redness or swelling around the eye|
|Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease||breathing problems, coughing, enlarged abdomen, possible collapse|
|Lafora Disease||body jerking, seizures, loss of vision, confusion, incoordination of movement|
|Diabetes||excessive thirst, weight loss, increase or decrease in appetite, cloudy eyes, chronic infections|
|Otitis Media||problems with balance, head shaking, pain, rubbing ear on carpet or with paw|
|Yeast Infection of the Skin||excessive licking of paws, scaly skin, greasy skin, changes in color or texture of skin, swelling, skin warm to touch, foul odor, scratching|
|Dermatitis||scratching or rubbing themselves on the carpet, loss of hair, paw-chewing, oily or scaly skin, foul odor, redness of ears, or discharge from ears|
|Pes Varus or Pes Valgus||limbs look angular or deformed, walking like a cowboy|
|Stomach Issues||loss of appetite, weight loss or gain, vomiting, diarrhea, distended stomach, constipation, flatulence, fever, dehydration|
|Dental Issues||chewing on only side of mouth, drooling, tilting head to one side, bad breath, loss of appetite, loose, discolored, or missing teeth|
|Cancer||weight loss, lethargy, bleeding or unusual discharge from any opening, hard time eating or swallowing, chronic sores, lumps, changes in urination or defecation|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Hannamariah/Shutterstock.com
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.