Dachshund Back Problems
There is a very good chance that your Doxie will injure his back during his life time. But with proper care, you can nurse him back to health
By Howard Young
Due to the elongated spine of the Dachshund, there is a good chance that your dog eventually may have back problems. Like in humans, injuries to the back are often very painful and limit the activity of your dog. Your Dachshund will exhibit these same symptoms which is obvious to you as you observe your pet.
During this time, you need to get your Dachshund examined by your Vet. The examination may require an x-ray of the spine and or testing of the spine and rear legs for paralysis. Gently pressing down along the spine will tell if there was a back injury and the approximate location.
Any onset of paralysis can be determined by rotating the rear paw backward. Your dog will naturally bring it back to the standing position. With Paralysis, your dog's paw will remain in the unnatural position. As a Dachshund owner, you may want to try this technique when your dog is standing on a smooth surface since carpeting may hinder the movement back to the correct position.
Odie who had back surgery has partial paralysis in his right rear. It's noticeable when he is tested this way where you can see that he does not have a very quick response to returning his paw to the normal position.
Dachshund Back Problems Treatment
After the examination, your Vet may prescribe one or more treatments to reduce the back pain. More often than not, he will recommend for you to minimize the dog's activity. This is easier said than done, but if you have the correct equipment such as an exercise pen or crate; your dog will have a successful recovery. Otherwise, your dog, under the influence of the pain medication may go back to its normal playful routine and prevent or delay the healing process.
Sometimes a cortisone shot is used to reduce the swelling from inflammation in the back. Our Chloe injured her back when she was a youngster and a single shot was all it took to reduce her pain. Dogs treated with cortisone of show excessive thirst and urination. Chloe did exhibit this for a day or so, but it lessened once the drug started wearing off.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) do wonders for my back and of course just as well on dogs. Do not give Advil or Ibuprofen to your dog since it is toxic. One dog owner commented saying that she gave Advil to her Dachshund and it had a ruptured a disc. The surgeon had to wait several days until the Ibuprofen was eliminated from so the drug would not react react with other medications they would give him.
Just stick with one of the NSAID your Vet prescribes and you'll be fine in either case.
We keep a prescription of Deramaxx on hand in case of emergency. There are long term adverse effects with this medication so use with caution, but this is more often the case where it is taken for arthritic conditions. Your Vet will recommend the dosage and how long to give it. It usually takes 4 or 5 days for the inflammation to go away.
Like all NSAIDs, your dog should take it with food otherwise your dog risks gastric ulcerations. (This of course is good advice for you whenever you take Advil.)
Bed rest is one of the most effective ways for the back to heal naturally. But with back problems in dogs, you must have an area where the dog can remain inside and calm during the day. We use a 4 foot square exercise pen to house our Dachshunds while recovering from injury. This prevents them from jumping, running or playing that may aggravate the problem. Usually four days of rest along with an anti-inflammatory is sufficient to reduce the pain and swelling.
During the bed rest period, keep your dog on a leash even if he has to go in the backyard. Using a leash will prevent him from jumping or running when he shouldn't.
Back surgery is one of the last options your Vet will recommend if your dog does not recover from rest, corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory drug treatments. Surgery is usually required if a herniated disc ruptures cutting off the nerve to the lower extremities. This results in paralysis to the hind quarters.
The good news is that because back problems are so common with the breed, there is a high success rate in the animal. Odie had the surgery in 2005 and he is living proof that fact. New surgery techniques such as Prophylatic laser disk abalation keep improving the odds that dogs will survive the operation.
Back Surgery Cost
Running several thousand dollars, the cost of back surgery can be prohibitive for many dog owners. If you can afford the surgery, I would recommend it. Sometimes Universities in your area may provide the service at a discount to train Vets in operating procedures.
Odie's surgery ran about $4,000 which was about twice the rate found other parts of the country. Prices in the Los Angeles area are somewhat inflated so it didn't seem unreasonable.
It takes about two to three weeks of bed rest before your Dachsund will see signs of recovery. The wobbly weak legs have to be retrained and strengthened as the nerves heal. Your dog may have partial or full recovery depending on the extent of the damage. Time is the essence once a herniated disk ruptures.
During the recovery period, you may have to help your dog walk with a sling made out of an old towel. I found that it was easier just to support Odie with my hands while he was relearning the steps.
Three to six months of rest is not abnormal for the recovery time. Although Odie responded well to the surgery with a quick recovery in about a month, we kept him in his pen for about 6 months to make sure that he would not reinjure himself.