In reality, there is no disease truly common in Dachshunds. Most Dachshunds are born healthy and live long, relatively disease-free lives.
Some minor health issues arise for nearly every dog at some point, even those who receive early vaccinations and excellent life-long care. Dachshund diseases are no different.
Nevertheless, there are some conditions that tend to occur more frequently in Dachshunds that in other breeds.
I’ve heard Dachshunds get Cushing’s disease. What is that?
Cushing’s Disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is one of the common dachshund diseases of the adrenal gland.
In Cushing’s Disease, too much of the cortisol hormone is produced, either by the adrenal gland or 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.
What do I do if my Dachshund has Cushing’s disease?
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.
Occasionally, surgery may be needed to remove the adrenal gland if it is cancerous.
Cushing’s disease is not limited to Dachshunds and can be found in other breeds, too.
I’ve also heard about Doxeys and Addison’s disease. What is that?
The opposite condition is called Addison’s disease or hypoadrenocorticsim (low cortisol). Of the common dachshund diseases, this one is very concerning.
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.
What can be done about Addison’s?
Addison’s is the most difficult of the dachshund diseases to diagnose because the sudden collapse resembles many disorders.
Specialized blood tests are needed to identify both Cushing’s and Addison’s Disease.
Prednisone and electrolyte supplements will be needed for life long treatment of Addison’s disease.
What about Progressive Retinal Atrophy? I’ve also hear it called PRA.
Several eye diseases can affect Dachshunds, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.
PRA is a gradual deterioration of the retina, the back wall of the eye.
The degeneration results with gradual vision loss and 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.
Can PRA be treated? What other other eye problems should I worry about?
Regretfully, there is no cure or treatment for PRA.
Other eye diseases that can affect Doxies are cataracts, glaucoma, optic nerve hypoplasia, distichiasis (abnormal eyelashes) as well as other conditions.
Regular eye exams can help early identification of these eye-disorders, and help avoid worry about these dachshund diseases.
What is 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 provides a cushion between the bones of the back (spine) and is normally gelatinous. In Dachshunds, this material some times calcifies, or hardens, and sometimes ruptures.
The disc protrusion causes pain and swelling around the nerves coming out of the spinal cord and sometimes compresses the cord itself.
A herniated disc starts with back pain or a reluctance to jump, and can progress to partial or even total paralysis of the back legs.
Can spinal disc disease be treated? And if so, how?
The majority of Doxies with disc disease can be managed medically with anti-inflammatory medications and pain medication.
Some owners have tried holistic medicine, such as acupuncture or chiropractic manipulation to help with the pain.
Immediate surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord may help restore full function in the legs when there is a complete rupture resulting in total paralysis.
The sooner the surgery is performed, the better the chances of full recovery.
Experimental treatment is being tested that uses laser heat to fuse the disc material in the spine to prevent the rupture.
Sounds expensive. Should I consider pet insurance?
Because this is such a common problem in Dachshunds, 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. It is impossible to predict which dogs will recover without the surgery.
Are Dachshunds extra sensitive to vaccines?
Allergic reactions to vaccinations does seem to occur in the Dachshund more often than any other breed.
Usually, the reaction is minor, resulting in swelling of the face and muzzle and sometimes hives.
Vaccine reactions do occur with any dog, so it is wise to observe your pet for a few hours after receiving.
Improvements in vaccine technology have decreased the side effects and the benefits of preventing disease outweighs the risks.
With good health care, Dachshunds can lead a long and healthy life. Good dental care, proper diets, preventive health checks, vaccinations, and heartworm/parasite prevention can help your Dachshund live longer. You can find more information concerning your dogs health at LuvUrDog.com as well Dachshund breed gifts.
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