Health and Well-being
Dachshund Mad! are not qualified vets, so we offer here a brief outline of the
most common health issues and links to expert sites for further information.
If you have any doubts or worries then a call to your local vet must be
your first choice of action.
Dachshunds generally suffer from few health problems and are long-lived, provided they are kept well-exercised, fit and fed on a healthy, balanced diet so they don't become overweight. The average age of dachshunds, reported in the KC Health Survey 2004, was 12 years and 8 months, although many go to 15+ years and the oldest currently recorded is Maya at 24 years old and still going strong in 2016. Dachshunds are considered a "dwarf breed" and consequently are more prone to back legs and spine issues than other breeds.
Animals in general don't show their pain and cannot easily communicate how they are feeling, so it is up to us as responsible owners to get to know our Dachshunds intimately and to see what may be different in their appearance, attitude or gait from yesterday.
The saying 'You are what you eat' can be equally applied to your dogs. Correct feeding and therefore nutrient intake, is a vital part of the health that they will enjoy over their lifetimes. See our Feeding section for advice and guidelines.
Responsible breeders in the UK follow strict guidelines from the Dachshund Breed Council, in the implementation of a long-term plan to breed-out the number and severity of the various known diseases and have made good progress over the last few years, although their work is still ongoing. Here is the DBC's Health Report 2016:
Other Health Issues (WORK IN PROGRESS)
As with humans, there are many other diseases, syndromes and afflictions that your dachshund could get, but we would stress that they are very rare and so we list these below with a link to expert information from other specialist sites.
Other Useful Sources of Health Information
Links Veterinary Group
How to identify fleas, lice, ticks, ear mites, mange mites, Cheyletiella or 'Walking Dandruff' and what to do about these conditions:
Dachshund Owners Guide
8 Common Dachshund Health Problems:
Can I give my Dachshund human foods?
Please see our Feeding section on human foods that are dangerous or harmful to dogs and some of the urban myths that have been repeated so often, that they are now taken as gospel truth (wrongly so).
In contrast, of the dogs with 5 or more calcifications, 66% had symptoms of IVDD. [Lappalainen 2001] Another study showed that dogs with 5 or more calcifications were 18 times more likely to possess IVDD symptoms than dogs with no calcifications. [Lappalainen 2014].
Results from the Danish Dachshund Club's screening programme, published in 2016 showed that:
Dogs with 5 or more calcifications were 48 times more likely to have prolapsed/herniated discs than dogs with less than 5 calcifications.
Dogs with 5 or more calcifications were 38 times more likely to have prolapsed/herniated discs or back pain than dogs with less than 5 calcifications.
Dogs with 5 or more calcifications were 20 times more likely to have back pain than dogs with less than 5 calcifications.
All these results are statistically significant.
These studies confirm that X-raying for calcifications in potential parents can be a useful test to assist breeders in predicting the likelihood of IVDD in the resulting puppies.
Expert information from the Dachshund Breed Council:
This site also has excellent advice regarding IVDD, exercise and neutering and how all 3 are connected. At the bottom of the page is a 'Lifestyle Factors' infographic with data taken from a survey in 2015 of over 2000 dachshunds and contains some very interesting information:
If you would like to know more specifically regarding the medical details, then this article from BVOA British Veterinary Orthopaedic Association may help, but be warned it is heavy, wordy and very technical:
X-ray screening has been used in Scandinavia for several years and is currently the best available tool to help reduce the genetic risk. It is now available in the UK:
Lafora Disease - Late Onset Myoclonic Epilepsy
This is an inherited late-onset and progressive form of epilepsy, caused by mutations in 3 known gene structures. It is characterised by jerking and shuddering of the head in a backwards direction. Common triggers include flashing lights, sudden movements near the head and unexpected noises. It can also occur during sleep. Some affected dogs may also start having the most usual type of epileptic fits as well.
As Lafora is an inherited disease, it can be screened by a DNA test in the parents and can be greatly reduced by selective breeding. However, if your dachshund is diagnosed with Lafora, unfortunately, there is currently no treatment, and therapy is managed and supported by medications prescribed for the different symptoms.
Expert information from the Dachshund Breed Council:
Lafora Dogs - information and support site:
cord1 PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Also known as Retinal Degeneration or Cone-rod Dystrophy, or more simply just PRA.
cord1 refers to COne Rod Dystrophy, the gene variant that causes the PRA.
Examining your dachshund for symptoms of illness
Rule number 1 - DON'T PANIC.
If you see that your Dachshund is tired, listless, 'not their usual self' or has physical trauma - then first take a deep breath and calm yourself ready to assess what may be happening. If a veterinary visit is needed, then be pre-armed with the symptoms you have noticed and write them down, so you don't miss any out when telling the vet at this high-stress time.
Are their eyes glazed, dry'ish, less sparkly, clouded or red with soreness? Is their nose cold or warm, dry or wet? Are they drooling or is the mouth dryer than usual? Are they limping or unable to walk properly? Do they have any areas on their skin that shows a rash, sores or spots and are they licking or biting the area more than a usual self-washing? Are there bodily fluids or solids from them that are unexpected, unfamiliar in appearance or have a different odour than usual?
They might just be having an 'off day' like humans do from time to time and 24 hours rest may be all they need. However, the time to act fast is particularly with any back or leg issues. In these cases, most vets will tell you there is a brief window of opportunity to treat your dog that will give them the best chance of a successful recovery, so don't hesitate and call your vet immediately.
Research the possibilities to educate and prepare yourself. Here are a few of the most common issues, and when we say 'common', we don't mean that a high proportion of dachshunds are affected. Generally we a talking about 5% or less, so please remember Rule number 1.
IVDD - Intervertebral Disc Disease.
Also known as Back Disease, Slipped Disc, Prolapsed Disc, Ruptured Disc, Herniated Disc
IVDD is the most significant health issue in Dachshunds. Dachshunds have a condition known as CHONDRODYSTROPHY - “chondro” means cartilage and “dystrophy” means disorder. Degeneration of the discs takes place much earlier in chondrodystrophic breeds, i.e. from 12-18 months, compared with 6-8 years in non-chondrodystrophic breeds.
Calcification of the spinal disk is part of degeneration and, in Dachshunds, is commonly visible on X-rays in dogs as young as 9 months old. Calcifications can be clearly seen on X-rays by the age of 2 and studies show that calcifications are inheritable [Jensen 2000].
Dogs with several calcifications are likely to produce litters with calcifications. The study found that if both parents had calcifications, 91% of their offspring did too; if only 1 parent had calcifications, then 44% of their puppies had them. Numerous studies (since the 1960s) have shown a relationship between calcifications and IVDD.
The lower the quantity of calcifications, the lower the danger of IVDD. In one study, of the dogs that had no calcifications, less than 1:10 had IVDD symptoms.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a group of genetic diseases seen in many breeds of dogs. It is characterised by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision loss and culminating in blindness. cord1 PRA is an inherited form of PRA specifically found in Dachshunds and also in English Springer Spaniels.
As with Lafora disease, PRA is screenable via a DNA test and can be selectively bred out of the dachshund lines by responsible breeders. If you are about to become a dachshund owner, then you must ensure that the breeder has certified PRA testing of the parents and both are shown to be clear.
Expert information from the Dachshund Breed Council:
And also from the Animal Health Trust:
Cushing's Disease - Hyperadrenocorticism
Also known as Cushing's Syndrome and although the disease and the syndrome have slightly different origins, the resultant effects are the same.
Cushing's is a hormone disorder caused by high levels of cortisol in the blood. It is a particular form of hyperpituitarism characterised by an abnormally high level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), produced by a non-cancerous tumour in the pituitary gland. It causes several effects, including high blood pressure, localised swelling and a heightened risk of infections. Signs can include hair loss, pot-belly, skin pallor and thining, changes in behaviour, frequent urination and a ravenous appetite.
In a healthy pet, the pituitary gland produces ACTH, stimulating the adrenal glands to secrete glucocorticoid, or cortisol hormones, into the bloodstream.
It is rarely seen in young dogs, mainly those over the age of 5. No early screening tests are available and the symptoms are similar to standard old-age, so it is difficult to diagnose. Seek specialist veterinary advice.
Expert information from the Dachshund Breed Council:
Also known as Dog Flu and caused by the AH3N8 and AH3N2 virus strains and are a relatively recent occurrence, first documented in September 2005.
Due to the lack of previous exposure to this virus, dogs have no natural immunity, therefore the disease is rapidly transmitted between individual dogs. Canine influenza may be endemic in some regional dog populations of the United States - the areas of greatest risk are New York, southern Florida, and northern Colorado/southern Wyoming.
It is a disease with a high incidence of symptoms, but thankfully a low incidence of death. A serum sample (swabs from nose and throat) from a dog suspected of having canine influenza can be submitted to a laboratory that performs PCR tests for this virus.
Dogs can only catch the flu from other dogs. It is transmitted through the air, usually by coughing or sneezing on each other. If your dog has not been around any other infected dogs in the past week or so, then he can’t have the flu. The incubation period (in most cases) is 2 to 5 days. Infected dogs can spread the flu for 7 to 10 days after symptoms appear, but be aware that dogs showing no clinical signs can be carriers and also spread the disease.
Humans cannot catch the flu from dogs; it is a different strain of flu.
Common symptoms are changes in appetite, a cough and a greenish discharge from the nose. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics and so must be allowed to run their course, in the same way that you would treat flu in a human patient, so lots of rest, warmth, cuddles and a plentiful supply of fresh water.
A pdf information sheet is available:
UPDATE: Prevalence of Canine Flu is overstated by the vaccine manufacturing companies.
Check out this expert veterinary advice:
Vaccinations - a controversial subject
There is always a lot of talk on forums, in chat rooms and on many Facebook groups, regarding over-vaccination and recommended safe protocols. Between 5 or more veterinary doctors, you can easily get 5 or more different opinions on this subject - so what is a layman dachshund owner to do, that is best for their furry friend?
Thankfully there are some excellent sources of expert information on this subject, hidden within the mass of 'noise' and we have included the source links at the end of this section.
Here is a brief synopsis of the facts, as proven by veterinary science to date.
There are 3 core diseases, plus Rabies and 2 non-core diseases. Rabies is dealt with separately, due to it's ability to jump species ie. from dogs to humans. The core diseases are: Canine Parvovirus type 2 (aka. CPV2 or Parvo), Canine Distemper (aka. CDV) and Canine Adenovirus (aka. CAV-1 or Infectious Canine Hepatitis, or ICH, or Rubarth’s Disease). The non-core diseases are: Canine Leptospirosis (aka. Lepto or Weil's Disease) and Kennel Cough (aka. CAV-2 or infectious tracheobronchitis, or Bordetella). CAV-2 is related to CAV-1, as one of several causes of Kennel Cough.
The core vaccinations contain a modified live virus (MLV), which stimulates a strong immunological response in the dog, causing it's own immune system to fight the viral attack and build immunity strength. This response is generally 'remembered' by the immune system for the duration of the dog's life and so no further injections are required for these core diseases. However, best advice is to re-vaccinate (booster injection) at 3 to 7 years, although this is entirely optional - your choice. The 3 year booster is advised on the grounds that the antivirus manufacturers have studies that show immunisation is still effective after 3 years and so their licence can only be for a 3-year period, although recent clinical findings have shown that 7 years to lifetime protection is now considered valid, but as the manufacturers have not applied for a lifetime licence, then they cannot claim lifetime immunisation.
The 2 non-core diseases are also vaccinated for in puppies and within the same time periods. These contain attenuated 'dead' virus with added adjuvants (an immunological agent that increases the antigenic response). These dead virus agents have a 1 year licensed effectiveness and so dogs are recommended to have boosters every year. Note that Kennel Cough vaccinations are often given intranasally (squirted in the nose), as this is considered quicker acting that an injection or by mouth.
Rabies vaccinations are mandated by law in many countries. Specifically in the US, Federal law prescribes that rabies vaccination must be given every 3 years or less. However, State and Local regulations may require that Rabies vaccinations are given every year or two - check with your own county to ensure your awareness of this. In the UK, Rabies vaccination is not required, unless your dog is travelling abroad or is likely to come in recent contact with animals brought in from foreign countries. If your dog was imported from outside the UK, it should already have a Pet Passport and have been inoculated for rabies.
Rabies: How to spot and report the disease in animals - UK guidelines and regulations:
Rabies Laws in the United States as of November 2014:
Canine Leptospirosis is very uncommon in the UK and is more likely in sub-tropical and tropical countries. In the US Lepto is considered an emerging infectious disease and one large study with over 33,000 samples detected a 6-fold increase in seropositive dogs between 2000 and 2007, following an increase in sample testing by 5 times during the same period. The increase in testing reflects the veterinary community’s greater awareness regarding the risk of infection.
Expert advice sources.
Click this link to view a Youtube video interview of Dr Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair of Veterinary Medicine at Wisconsin University:
Also very well worth reading is the WSAVA (World Small Animals Veterinary Association) Vaccination Guidelines Group paper:
The 3 core diseases must be vaccinated for in every puppy. When puppies suckle on the dam's colostrum (the first 24 hours of milk), they obtain passive protection from the antibodies in the milk, which would fight the antivirus vaccination components and render them ineffective.
So, puppies should get their first injection no earlier than 6 weeks and definitely by 8 weeks old, then secondary and tertiary injections at 12 weeks and 16 weeks old.
Passive Antibody Protection in Dogs
Also known as Pyometritis. In Greek, 'pyo' meaning pus and 'metritis' meaning uterine inflammation, is a disease that’s seen more often in unspayed bitches over the age of 5.
The primary cause is a combination of hormonal changes that happen within the heat cycle of your dog. Every heat cycle, there’s a natural reduction of white cells from the uterus to allow for safe sperm passage, causing a lapse in protection that can decrease the ability to fight infection.
There are 2 types - Open and Closed. Open is where the uterine cavity and the vulva are open and closed is where the infection has built up and blocked the uterine cavity.
Symptoms with both varieties include excessive panting, lethargy and weakness, excessive thirst, vomiting and is accompanied by a high temperature, indicating infection.
Spayed females have had their reproductive system removed (partial or total hysterectomy) and so cannot contract Pyometra. There are recent treatment developments under study that are showing promise for both varieties, Open and Closed.
Dogs Naturally Magazine article, including conventional and alternative treatments:
With the correct treatment and loving family care, the vast majority of Daxies carry on to live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life and always remember:
A dachshund's tail is connected directly to their
heart - if it's wagging, then they are on the mend!
If you have any doubts or concerns, then a call to your local veterinary surgery is always the best choice of action.