Dachshund Illnesses & Neurological Disorders

Dachshunds are prone to degenerative disc disease.

Dachshunds are prone to degenerative disc disease.

As with all purebred dogs, doxies have their own set of genetic problems. Because of their unique body shape, they are more prone to certain kinds of neurological defects than other dogs. Back injuries are so common in dachshunds that wheelchairs have been fashioned to help dogs with mobility issues.

Dachshund Genetic Predisposition

All purebred dogs are genetically predisposed to inherit genes that cause specific problems. Just as there are genes that cause all purebred dogs to share traits, there are genes purebred dogs share to predispose them to certain illnesses. Chief among health complaints of dachshund owners is back problems. But there are several other illnesses that plague dachshunds as well. One of the most unique to dachshunds is acanthosis nigricans, an overabundance of melanin, or dark pigment. It is rare in other breeds, but not so in the dachshund. It begins in the axillary areas, and spreads to the groin. It looks like the affected area is balding. It can harbor secondary yeast or bacteria infections.

Serious Diseases

Hypothyroidism, a decreased production of the thyroid hormones, is seen in dachshunds during middle age, between 4 and 10 years. It is rarely seen at birth. As the thyroid ages, it begins to atrophy, causing the underproduction of the hormone. If left untreated, it can cause heart disease or diabetes.

Von Willebrand's disease, another hereditary condition common to dachshunds, is a bleeding disease that causes frequent nosebleeds, unusually heavy bleeding after giving birth or after surgery, bleeding from the gums and excessive bleeding from traumatic injuries.

Eye Disorders

There are several eye disorders seen in dachshunds. They include cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy,corneal dystrophy, night blindness and various problems with the tear ducts. The signs of eye problems include a cloudy film over the eye, visual impairment and excess tearing. Optic nerve hypoplasia, less common but more serious, is the failure of the optic nerve to develop fully, causing blindness. Epithelial/stromal dystrophy and endothelial dystrophy are both seen in the dachshund as well. The former presents as shallow ulcers in the cornea, and the latter is the appearance of whitish or grey deposits on the eye.

Neurological Disorders

Because most dogs are not shaped like the long and low dachshunds, they are not as prone to back problems as the doxie. Intervertebral degenerative disc disease is common in the dachshund and back problems frequently result from doing activities with which other dogs typically don't have a problem such as jumping or stair climbing. The only other breeds that suffer from IDDD are the bassett hound and the corgi due to their having a skeletal structure similar to that of a dachshund. Back problems are usually seen in the lower back or the neck area, which will be tender to the touch. A herniated disc, a disc pressing against the spinal cord, is just as painful for the dachshund as it is for humans so it's best to be constant aware of your dog's activities if you are the proud owner of one of these dogs. Surgical intervention and being fitted with a cart can help in some cases.

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About the Author

Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.

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