The Dachshund dog, Teckel (or sausage) is a dog with an elongated body that was originally bred to hunt animals in burrows. Unfortunately, an elongated body makes you more prone to spinal problems, the most common of which is a herniated disc. As back problems can cause pain and paralysis, you need to treat your puppy as soon as possible.
Part 1 of 3: Diagnosing Dachshund Spine Problems
Step 1. Learn more about back problems that occur in sausage dogs
Such problems are actually in the spine. The intervertebral discs, located between the vertebrae (bones of the spine), contain a gelatinous substance that helps them absorb impacts. As the dog ages, these discs can harden and lose their ability to absorb impacts, causing the gelatinous substance to overflow and compress the marrow, which causes pain and other problems.
- High-impact activities (such as running and jumping), being overweight and irresponsible rearing can increase the risk of sausage problems.
- Although herniated discs are quite common in the breed, back problems can also be caused by infections (such as meningitis), spinal tumors, and trauma.
Step 2. Observe the way your dog walks
Spine problems can affect the Techel's ability to walk normally. For example, a herniated disc can leave you wobbly or even unable to walk. Even if the dog can walk, the pain caused by the herniated disc can make it reluctant to move.
Spinal trauma or tumors can make it difficult or impossible for the Dachshund to move
Step 3. Check your dog's posture
When a Techel has a back problem, his posture can change. In the case of a herniated disc, the neck and back muscles are very tense and he should begin to bend these muscles.
- Tensed muscles may begin to spasm. Spasms are small, quick movements of the muscles and can be quite painful for the sausage.
- The dog's posture can be affected in similar or different ways depending on the origin of the back problem.
Step 4. Notice changes in behavior or appetite
The Dachshund is likely to experience pain and discomfort because of the back problem. For example, a herniated disc can make him cry in pain or look anxious. The dog may also start to eat less and less and be less inclined to the activities he enjoyed, such as playing or walking. These changes reflect a drop in Teckel's quality of life.
Step 5. Identify evacuation issues
When affected by severe back problems, the sausage can lose control of the bladder and bowel, urinating and defecating at inappropriate times. This loss of control, known as incontinence, is a sign of neurological problems – damage to the spinal nerves that control urination and evacuation.
Trauma to the lower back can damage spinal nerves
Step 6. Take your Dachshund to the vet
The provider should evaluate the dog's symptoms and perform several tests to diagnose back problems. For example, if the dog's hind legs are weak or paralyzed, the veterinarian will perform neurological tests to identify the area of the spine that is having problems. A neurological exam involves pinching the paws or tail to find out if the dog is experiencing deep pain (indicated by a bark or head movement).
- Imaging exams are very important for diagnosing spinal problems in Teckel. Regular X-ray shows the vertebrae but not the discs or spinal cord. Other imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan or myelography are more helpful.
- In the case of myelography, the veterinarian applies anesthesia to the dog and injects contrast into the spinal cord. This contrast makes it easier to visualize the spinal cord with X-rays.
- Imaging tests can help your veterinarian identify whether trauma or other illnesses are causing your back problems.
- If the provider suspects a spinal cord infection, he or she should draw fluid from the dog's spine and send the sample for analysis to identify the 'culprit' organism.
Part 2 of 3: Treating Back Problems Without Surgery
Step 1. Find out if medical treatment can effectively deal with the back problem
The treatment for this type of problem in sausage dogs can be surgical or not. Depending on the cause and severity of the issue, your veterinarian may recommend a non-surgical option. For example, if the disc herniation is mild, this type of treatment should work. If the dog has an infection in the spinal cord (such as discospondylitis, an infection in the vertebrae and discs), it is not necessary to have surgery, just a medical treatment.
Some examples of non-surgical treatments are pain management, cage confinement, weight management, and antibiotics
Step 2. Lessen Dachshund Pain
Your puppy should start feeling much better with less pain. The veterinarian will prescribe pain medication (steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce pain and inflammation in the dog's back and spine. Pain reduction is a very important measure, regardless of the back problem.
- As non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and other digestive problems, it should be administered carefully and as directed by the veterinarian, always accompanied by food.
- Steroids can make Teckel gain weight and cause other problems, such as bone weakness and liver problems. Steroids should not be given in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Step 3. Treat muscle spasms
If your dog has a herniated disc, his back or neck muscles may spasm. To alleviate this problem, the veterinarian should prescribe a muscle relaxant. Heat and massage can also relieve muscle spasms.
Step 4. Treat the infection
If the sausage has a bone marrow infection, it needs treatment that eliminates the responsible organism. This treatment can be antibiotic, antifungal or with another type of medication depending on the body.
Step 5. Keep the dog confined in his cage or crate
This confinement is especially important for treating mild cases of herniated disks, as it allows damaged disks to have a chance of recovery. Confinement can last from two to six weeks. The veterinarian must indicate the ideal duration.
- If you've already trained the dog to stay in the cage, it shouldn't be too difficult to implement confinement. If that's not the case, try to keep the pet calm and quiet as much as possible where it usually sleeps.
- Confinement in a cage or box can be very lonely for the Dachshund. Be sure to continue talking and interacting with him during this time.
- Not all spine problems require confinement. The veterinarian should inform you if your sausage's specific problem requires this measure.
Step 6. Don't overfeed him
Excessive weight of the Techel puts more pressure on the spine. It is necessary to reduce the amount of food you offer him if the recommended amount has been exceeded. Check with your veterinarian how much your dog should eat each day and measure the food with a measuring instrument such as a cup.
- Consider the idea of eliminating all snacks from the puppy's diet, especially the industrialized ones.
- Specially formulated slimming diets can help with weight loss without nutritional deficiencies.
Part 3 of 3: Using Surgery to Treat Back Problems
Step 1. Discuss surgical options with your veterinarian
Surgical treatment can be ideal for some back problems. For example, if the Dachshund has a herniated disc and does not improve with any other treatment, the veterinarian can perform surgery to remove the extravasated material from the disc, which reduces pressure on the spinal cord, allowing it to heal. Surgery may be a possibility to remove a tumor, depending on its size and location.
- If the dog has suffered trauma to the spine, immediate surgery can help, but the trauma (and other injuries) can be too severe for him to be able to resist surgery.
- The veterinarian should discuss all surgical options with the owner and let the owner know if the Techel can handle surgery.
- He can refer you to a neurologist veterinarian.
Step 2. Take care of the dog after the operation
In the event of surgery, the owner needs to take care of the Dachshund at home to ensure he has a full recovery. In general, home care involves pain control, exercise restriction, and physical therapy (if possible). Be aware that the positive result of surgery (such as pain relief and the ability to walk) may not be apparent for a few days or weeks after the procedure.
You may need to stimulate the dog's bladder after surgery. The vet can teach you how to do this
Step 3. Buy a wheelchair for the sausage
If the back problem has left the dog's hind legs paralyzed, he may need a wheelchair to get around. After he recovers from surgery, he may no longer need the wheelchair. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on chair options and usage.
- Approximately 25% of dogs of this breed have intervertebral disc problems throughout their lives.
- To avoid these problems in your dog, don't let your dog do certain activities, such as walking up and down stairs, jumping on furniture, playing tug of war, and playing aggressively with other dogs.
- The chest collar can prevent damage to the Dachshund's spine.
- A therapy called pulsed electromagnetic field therapy can help relieve the pain and swelling associated with a dog's back problems. Ask the vet about her.
- The prognosis for sausage dogs with spinal problems depends on several factors, such as the severity of the hind limb weakness or paralysis and the speed of surgical treatment (if necessary).
- A Dachshund with paralyzed hind limbs and no perception of deep pain in those legs can develop a syndrome called myelomalacia. This syndrome can cause an ascending paralysis that progresses in the body to the muscles that control breathing and paralyzes them.
- If your dog's spinal trauma is too severe for surgery or if he has an inoperable spinal tumor, you may need to consider sacrificing him.