How to Diagnose Back Problems in a Dachshund

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How to Diagnose Back Problems in a Dachshund
How to Diagnose Back Problems in a Dachshund

The dachshund is a breed that tends to have a variety of back problems. Just note the shape of the dog's body. Its back is elongated and the legs are small, immediately giving the impression that there is a lot of tension in the animal's spine. Also, the dog has difficulty going up and down stairs because of its short legs. These factors already give an idea of ​​the amount of back problems the dachshund can have. Due to the high risk that the dachshund has of sustaining back injuries, it is important to know how to identify if it has problems and to know how to treat them.


Part 1 of 3: Identifying Signs of Back Pain

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 1

Step 1. Watch for mild symptoms of back pain

Such symptoms may vary - the dog may be just a little quieter than usual due to slight discomfort, or it may become paralyzed due to an explosive disc protrusion suddenly manifesting in the animal's hind legs. Some simple signs of back pain that can serve as an indication include:

  • Reluctance to move: The pain associated with back problems can cause the dog to not feel like moving and to stand in a corner with his head down. The dog may howl or moan when you try to put the collar around its neck. Some dogs refuse to eat or drink as it is painful for them to lower their heads to their plate.
  • Arched back: Many dogs with back pain demonstrate a stooped posture, staying stiff and always watching their own movements.
  • Altered behavior: The dog may express reluctance to jump on the favorite couch, or be unable to climb the stairs to sleep.
Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 2

Step 2. Take the dog's pain seriously

Back problems can be extremely painful and many dogs will vocalize this feeling through a moan, bark, or cry. They may even cry out in anticipation of pain upon being told to move. These demonstrations of pain are not just drama.

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 3

Step 3. Take a dog with sudden paralysis to the vet immediately

If the pressure on the dog's spinal cord is too severe, the nerve can be damaged. This problem most commonly affects the animal's hind legs. The dog may not be able to stand upright, crawling with the help of its front legs. In cases of sudden paralysis, the dog should be examined by a veterinarian so that the spinal injury can be evaluated and treated.

Severe paralysis can interfere with bladder and bowel function, in some cases making the dog incontinent or unable to empty his bladder. The veterinarian must give guidance on how to deal with this problem

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 4

Step 4. Force the dog to stop moving

If the dachshund shows signs of back pain, you should restrict the animal's movements so that it is forced to rest. Don't let him walk around the house. Instead, leave him in a dog cage while you make an appointment with the veterinarian.

When taking the dog to the vet, carry him to the car and to the vet, as letting him walk on his own can cause a severe rupture of the disc

Part 2 of 3: Diagnosing Back Pain

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 5

Step 1. Take the dog for a veterinarian exam

The veterinarian will do a physical exam and look at other problems possibly responsible for back pain. He will support the dog's back and turn the back of the paw so that it rests on the ground. This procedure is to check if the dog can see that the paw is in the wrong position and if he will correct it. If he doesn't correct the position of the paw, there may be damage to a nerve. The veterinarian will also check for other nerve reflexes, such as the ability to feel pain in your fingers, to determine if there is nerve damage.

The veterinarian will gently touch the dog's spine, paying attention to areas that are soft and have muscle fasciculation, which will indicate where the muscles are contracting due to pain sensitivity

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 6

Step 2. Authorize the veterinarian to take an X-ray

If back pain is confirmed, the veterinarian may suggest an imaging test to check for the cause of the pain. Possible causes include disc disease, spinal arthritis, spondylitis (infection of the vertebrae), inflammatory nerve disease, sprain, and muscle tension. A diagnostic test commonly used in veterinary clinics is an X-ray examination of the spine. Sections of the coast are examined one at a time (depending on where the problem is suspected to be located), such as the neck, chest, and lower back.

  • Two images of each area are usually taken to provide a comparison: One image is taken from the side and one from the top or bottom (dorsoventral or ventrodorsal region).
  • The x-ray will provide useful information about the bones of the spine and the spaces between them, but it will not serve to provide an image of the spinal cord itself. To obtain this type of image, it is necessary to use more advanced methods.
  • One of the limitations of X-ray exams is the fact that they can be misleading. For example, a narrowed space between two vertebrae is abnormal and indicates the presence of a disc disease. However, the disc may have torn to the side without causing damage, preventing spinal cord pressurization. In conclusion, the X-ray is nothing more than a means of obtaining clues, which can be interpreted together with clinical signs to lead to a diagnosis.
Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 7

Step 3. Ask the veterinarian to do an MRI or CT scan instead of an X-ray

There are currently more sophisticated imaging exams, which, when available, serve as a substitute for X-ray. These sophisticated techniques serve to visualize the spinal cord itself. If the disc has prolapsed in the spine, the clinician will be able to see the mark on the spine, indicating the location of compression.

  • This information is very important if specialized decompression surgery is being considered, as it tells the surgeon exactly which discs are involved so he can operate in the correct location.
  • Unfortunately, MRI and CT scans are more expensive. In addition, the dog will also need to be anesthetized so that it stays still inside the scanner. This will incur additional costs as well as more risks to the dog's health.

Part 3 of 3: Avoiding Back Problems

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 8

Step 1. Prevent the dachshund from jumping off furniture or running down stairs

As mentioned, dachshunds are prone to back problems, both because of premature aging of the discs and because of the animal's body shape. An important precaution to be taken by any dachshund owner is to prevent the dog from running down the stairs, as this can put strain on the spine.

It might be a good idea to install dog gates at the beginning and end of stairs. This will prevent the dog from climbing up or down unsupervised

Diagnose Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 9

Step 2. Help the dog to climb on the furniture

It may also be a good idea to install dog ladders on your bed if your dog often sleeps with you. Dog ladders are small and will help your pet climb the surface with its short legs without having to jump.

You can also install them in front of the sofa or any other furniture where you want to give access to your dog

Diagnosis Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 10

Step 3. If the dachshund's medical condition is mild, force the dachshund to rest

If the dachshund shows signs of back pain, try to confine it in a dog cage so it can rest. Resting will help the inflammation in the dog's back to go down if the damage isn't too severe.

Diagnosis Back Problems in Dachshunds Step 11

Step 4. Understand why the chances of dachshunds having back problems are so great

Dachshunds are prone to intervertebral disc disease, or simply "herniated discs". To understand why disc diseases are so painful, it's important to understand the anatomy of the back. The spine is not a completely rigid bar - it has flexibility as it is made up of smaller individual bones called vertebrae. There is an empty "arch" in each vertebra, through which the spinal cord passes. Each vertebra is protected from the other by a disk, which has the appearance of a spongy donut. Discs help to articulate the vertebrae, but they should not interfere with the spinal cord.

  • Each disc has a spongy part in the center (nucleus pulposus), which is surrounded by a more fibrous body (annulus fibrosus). Disc damage can occur when the fluid in the center solidifies and loses its cushioning effect, or when the fibrous body ages, becoming brittle and prone to cracking and tearing.
  • When force is applied to the location (for example, when the dachshund jumps out of a chair or squirms abnormally) the disk can wear out. If the solidified nucleus pulposus is pressed upward, pressure is exerted on the spinal cord, resulting in pain. If the disc fails catastrophically, there is a possibility that the nucleus pulposus will be forced explosively against the spinal cord, causing nerve damage.
  • Dachshunds, like other breeds such as the Pekinese and Shih-tzu, are genetically predisposed to premature aging of disc cartilage. For this reason, and due to the structure of the spine, the dachshund is likely to experience back pain, even at ages two to four.

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