Common Diseases in Dachshunds

That is a little misleading since no disease is truly common in Dachshunds Most Dachshunds are born healthy and live long, relatively disease-free lives.Almost every dog can develop minor health issues even if they receive vaccinations and excellent life-long care. Even dogs that receive their vaccinations and excellent life-long care can develop some minor health issues in their lifetime.

Nevertheless, there are some conditions that tend to occur more frequently in Dachshunds that in other breeds.

Adrenal Gland Malfunction

Hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s Disease, is one common disease of the adrenal gland. In Cushing’s Disease, too much of the hormone cortisol is produced, either by the adrenal gland or by a primary tumor, or a malfunction of the pituitary gland, which is the master gland that tells the adrenal gland how much cortisol to produce. The elevated cortisol level results in hair loss, excessive drinking and urination, a pot-bellied appearance, skin conditions and occasionally diabetes. Specific laboratory tests can be used to diagnose Cushing’s disease and treatment depends on the results. There are several different drugs that can be used to decrease the level of cortisol. If adrenal cancer is present, surgical excision of the gland may be needed. Cushing’s disease is also found in other breeds of dogs.

The opposite condition is called Addison’s disease or low cortisol (hypoadrenocorticism). Cushing’s takes some time to present itself, but Addison’s disease is a sudden episode of collapse due to too low of glucose (blood sugar) and an imbalance of the electrolytes. The sudden illness results in an emergency visit to the veterinarian for fluid therapy and cortisone injections to correct the imbalances. Being as the sudden collapse resembles many disorders, Addison’s is the most difficult disease to diagnose. Specialized blood tests are needed to identify both Cushing’s and Addison’s Disease. Life long treatment with prednisone and electrolyte supplements will be needed to treat Addison’s disease.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Several eye diseases can affect Dachshunds, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. PRA is a degeneration of the retina, the lining in the back of the eye. This  results in slow vision loss and eventual blindness. PRA is a genetic trait and because it often does not show up until the dog is older, the dog may have already been bred and passed the condition to the puppies. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure or treatment for PRA. Other eye diseases that can affect Dachshunds are glaucoma, cataracts, optic nerve hypoplasia, abnormal eyelashes (distichiasis) as well as other conditions. Regular eye exams can help detect these eye-disorders early.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

By far the most common disease of Dachshunds is related to the discs between the vertebrae (the bones of the spine). The disc is normally gelatinous and provides a cushion between the bones of the back (spine). In Dachshunds, this material some times calcifies, or hardens, and sometimes ruptures. The herniated disc causes swelling and pain around the spinal cord and the nerves coming out from the spinal canal. Early signs of a herniated disc are pain, a reluctance to jump up, partial paralysis and sometimes total paralysis or the rear legs,. The majority of them with disc disease can be managed medically with pain medication and anti-inflammatory medications. Some owners have tried holistic medicine, such as acupuncture or chiropractic manipulation to help with the pain. With a complete rupture resulting in total paralysis, immediate surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord may help restore full function in the legs. The sooner the surgery is preformed, the greater the chances of full recovery.

Researchers are using lasers to fuse or burn the discs in order to prevent future herniation. Because this is such a common problem, I do recommend purchasing health insurance for your pet. Unfortunately, some owners cannot afford the surgery and pets suffering with total paralysis or extreme pain are euthanized. A few of my patients, which were partially paralyzed, did recover some function of their legs over time. There is no way to predict which dogs will recover without the surgery.

Vaccination Reactions

Allergic reactions to vaccinations does seem to occur in the Dachshund more often than any other breed. The reaction is usually minor, resulting in swelling of the face and muzzle and occasional hives. Occasional vaccine reactions can occur with any dog so it is always a good idea to observe your pet for a few hours after their shots. With the advances in vaccines, fewer side effects do occur and the benefits far outweigh the risks.

With good health care, Dachshunds can lead a long and healthy life. Proper diets, preventive health checks, vaccinations, heartworm and parasite prevention, and good dental care can help your Doxie live longer.  You can find more information concerning your dogs health at LuvUrDog.com as well Dachshund breed gifts.

 

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