The Truth About Dachshunds Back Problems
I didn’t always know a lot about Dachshunds. I was still pretty clueless even after owning my first Dachshund Chester for 8 years.
It wasn’t until I adopted my second Dachshund Gretel, and started this blog, that I really started researching and learning as much as I could about the breed.
UPDATED: January 31, 2023
It turns out that Dachshunds are notorious for having back problems.
Many Dachshunds end up fully or partially paralyzed, or with mobility limitations and pain related to spinal issues, at some point in their lives.
I had no idea when I adopted my Dachshund Chester.
But I’ve been studying Dachshunds, and Dachshund back problems, since about 2015 and now I really understand the cause and the current scientific research on the topic.
ATTENTION: If you found this article because your Dachshund is suddenly having trouble walking and you need help, go read my article about what to do if your dog is suddenly paralyzed right away.
How I Learned About Dachshunds and Their Back Problems
I run a 1,000+ member club for Dachshunds, have been walking and dog sitting Dachshunds for over 7 years, and have several friends with Dachshunds.
Besides my experience with my own 3 Dachshunds, I’ve momentarily “owned” at least 100 more through people sharing their stories with me and asking for my help with back injuries over the years.
Once, I had to take one of the Dachshunds I walk to the vet for the owner because she had another emergency come up and he was experiencing back pain.
Another time I drove my friend to the emergency vet when her dog suddenly had trouble walking and was experiencing pain.
Three of the Dachshunds I walked underwent surgery because of paralysis issues.
I helped “rehabilitate” them when they were able to start walking again.
Besides my own experiences, I’ve scoured online articles and resources and talked to several veterinarians about back issues with Dachshunds.
I feel confident that I know a heck of a lot about Dachshunds and back problems.
I’m telling you this so you believe me when I say I know what I am talking about… because I have to set the record straight!
The ONE thing Every Dachshund Owner Must Know
So many people don’t understand what causes Dachshund back problems.
I would say that 80% – and that’s being conservative – of the people are surprised by what I’m going to tell you.
I want to be clear that I’m not criticizing anyone for not knowing.
Like I said, I owned my first Dachshund for eight years and before I started to learn.
Now I’m passionate about helping people understand why Dachshunds are prone to back problems, how they can recognize back problems, and what they can do to help prevent them.
Some might even say I am obsessed with this mission.
You must know what is in the rest of this article if you own a Dachshund.
It’s the most important thing to know about their health.
I’m going to give you just the highlights in an attempt to be thorough but not overwhelming.
–> See the Full List of My IVDD Articles, Information, and Resources HERE <–
3 Ways a Dachshund Can Injure Their Back
There are three ways a Dachshund can hurt their back.
1) Acute Back Injury
The first way a Dachshund can hurt it’s back is the least common – acute injury.
Acute injury happens when a dog takes a fall, is stepped on, get’s into a car accident, etc.
It’s almost always obvious: you see it happen or there is a visible sign something bad happened just out of your sight.
The effect of the catastrophic event presents itself immediately or very soon after.
This kind of injury can occur at any age.
2) Age-related Back Problems
The second way a Dachshund can hurt it’s back is what I like to call “oldness”.
As an animal ages, it’s normal for the body to go through negative or degenerative changes.
Your Dachshund may naturally develop a disease, or their muscles and bones can degenerate, which can make them prone to injury.
If older dogs who haven’t previously had any back problems develop them, it’s often the result of the normal wear-and-tear on their spine as they age.
This is called Type II disk disease.
According to Veterinary Surgical Centers,
“The condition is typically slowly progressive and may or may not be painful.
It occurs most commonly in middle- to older age… dogs.
The chronic spinal cord compression with this type of disc disease often causes atrophy of the spinal cord.”
3) Hansen’s Type I Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
This is the most common culprit of Dachshund back injuries in dogs between the age of 3 and 8 years of age.
It’s a result of spinal disk degeneration that causes ruptures in the disks of younger dogs.
Hansen’s type I Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is commonly referred to as simply “IVDD”.
In other words, IVDD is a degeneration of the spine (due to the disease) that occurs at a younger age than can be attributed to the normal aging process.
At least 95% of the cases I can recall of Dachshund’s with mobility issues – ranging from slight to paralysis – is due to a current or previous diagnosis of IVDD.
If a Dachshund has IVDD, the disease typically presents itself as a sudden inability to walk normally between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.
I’ve heard of a couple recent cases where a Dachshund was diagnosed with IVDD at as young as 1-2 years old.
This most common form of IVDD – Hansen’s Type I – is what I’m going to talk about in this article.
About Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Dachshunds
IVDD is a degenerative disease that causes the spinal disks to age faster than normal.
The disks become dry, brittle, and fragile.
IVDD starts when the jelly-like inner layer hardens (calcifies) and dries out, so it can’t cushion like it’s supposed to.
When the fibrous, outer layer of a disk cracks, and the inner layer bulges out, or herniates, it causes pressure on the dog’s spinal cord.
It can bulge out a little or a lot, causing mild to severe problems.
Some problems caused by IVDD are far more serious than others but they all affect the health and happiness of your Dachshund to some degree. (Source: L’il Back Bracer)
Below are some facts about IVDD-related back injuries.
Note: IVDD can also affect disks in the neck. It’s less common (but equally as critical to know about) so I am primarily going to refer to IVDD back injuries in this article.
IVDD is a GENETIC Disease
That means your Dachshund was born with it and whether your dog has no symptoms, mild pain, or becomes paralyzed is largely out of your control.
I’ve had people argue with me that IVDD is not genetic. We’ll here is some science to back up my statement.
According to the University of California – Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (UC Davis) – one of the premier research facilities for IVDD in the US:
“A Dachshund’s long back and short limbs (legs) is caused by Chondrodysplasia (CDPA), commonly called the dwarfism, which interferes with the body’s normal development of cartilage.“
All Dachshunds have some form of this gene. It’s what causes the unmistakable “long and low” Dachshund look.
Dogs with a certain mutations of this gene – specifically Chondrodystrophy (CDDY) – are at higher risk for intervertebral disk herniation.
In an article titled Genetic Discovery Finds Dachshunds’ Short-Leg Phenotype Linked To IVDD states”
“Type I IVDD is most common in Dachshunds.
It is an an inherited disorder caused by CDDY, a condition of shorter legs and abnormal intervertebral discs in which the discs degenerate prematurely in young dogs, occurring in some dogs as young as 1 year of age.”
Unfortunately, there is no reliable test for IVDD… yet anyway.
The reason, explained loosely, is because all Dachshunds have some form of the dwarfism gene and it’s still not 100% clear what mutation is causing IVDD.
But there is hope. Scientists are making progress on pinpointing the cause.
You can read more about the progress they have made in identifying the gene mutation responsible for IVDD HERE.
The good news is, because back injuries are due to IVDD, which is inherited in a dog’s genes, you can stop feeling guilty that it was “something you did” if your dog starts having back or neck problems.
But it’s also bad news.
If Your Dog Has IVDD, a Back Injury May Not Be Preventable
Approximately 25% of Dachshunds, or 1 in 4, will suffer some sort of back injury in their lifetime where IVDD can be pinpointed as the cause.
According to Danika Bannasch, from the School of Veterinary Medicine UC Davis, one of the primary researchers of IVDD in dogs,
“Dogs with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) are 50 times more likely to have this mutation [chondrodystrophy]; that’s an incredibly strong correlation with disc disease.” (source)
The bad news is, because back injuries are primarily caused by IVDD, which is an inherited, genetic disease, for the most part you can’t control if your Dachshund will injure their back or not.
There doesn’t have to be an external cause for back pain or issues in a dog with IVDD.
The majority of stories I’ve heard about Dachshund back injuries start something like “My Dachshund was perfectly fine and couldn’t walk when they woke up.”
I’ve heard countless stories of owners who were very careful with their Dachshunds – treating them like breakable glass – and their Dachshund ruptured a disk merely getting up from their dog bed.
There are precautions you can take to “stack the cards in favor” of a dog with IVDD but, again, you can’t control whether they will need medical treatment or not.
It’s true that environmental factors can influence whether a dog with IVDD (calcified and brittle disks) will rupture a disk.
However, in my opinion, Dachshund owners tend to over-emphasize this and often think their choices have more influence over a potential back injury than it does.
Still though, it’s important to know what these environmental factors are and control as much as you can.
Scientists have speculated that these environmental factors may influence whether a Dachshund ruptures a spinal disk or not:
- Jumping off furniture and other high places – it’s best to minimize this
- Using stairs – but there is some evidence that stairs may not be as bad as you think
- Obesity – when a Dachshund is overweight, it can put a lot of stress on the spine
- Exercise – Exercise helps a Dachshund’s spine-supporting muscles stay strong
- Nutrition – good food and quality supplements are important to overall health but may also influence spinal health
IVDD Symptoms to Watch For
In all my years of research and experience, I’ve seen 20 common signs and symptoms that can indicate a IVDD-related back injury.
The most common are:
- Walking wobbly or “drunk”
- Standing with their back hunched
- Showing signs of pain like shivering, rapid breathing, hiding in a corner or den (like crate or nook), and refusing to eat
- Yelping or crying out if you touch them
- Sudden paralysis of the hind legs (dragging the back legs)
What To Do If You Think Your Dog Injured Their Back
Immediate action is necessary if you suspect a back injury.
1) Keep your dog from moving around
If they are in severe pain, they may do this on their own.
If not, put them in a crate or wrap them in a towel and hold them.
If your dog is suddenly paralyzed, you must do this right away!
2) Immediately take your dog to the vet
Take them to an emergency clinic if you have to. Time is of the essence.
A veterinarian will determine the cause of your Dachshunds back pain, or lameness, and determine whether it is IVDD or something else.
If the injury is mild, crate rest and medication may be all that your dog needs.
Treatments Options For an IVDD-Related Back Injury
If your dog experiences an IVDD-related back injury and ruptures a disk, there are two primary methods of treatment.
Your veterinarian will examine your dog, how affected your dog’s mobility and nerves are by the disk rupture (grades 1-5), and recommend a course of action.
If your dog is experiencing advanced stages IVDD disk rupture, surgery may be recommended.
During surgery, a surgically-trained veterinarian will make an incision along your dog’s back, clean up the extruded disk material putting pressure on your Dachshund’s nerves, and repair the disk as much as possible.
This will be followed by medications – steroids and pain aids – and strict crate rest (see section below for details on that).
If your vet recommends surgery, it’s because they think it’s your dog’s best chance for fully recovering.
If you can afford it, you should do it, ideally within the first 24 hours.
Your veterinarian may give you an estimated chance of recovery if surgery is performed, which typically ranges from 50% to 95%.
I’ve seen several dogs that were paralyzed fully recover after surgery and and a period of restricted movement.
Surgery is expensive though. Not everyone can afford it.
Sadly, I’ve heard of many veterinarians who told people they should put their dog down if they can’t afford the surgery.
However, I’ve heard of some Dachshunds make a partial or full recovery without surgery, whether it was initially recommended or not.
In truth, surgery isn’t 100% effective anyway (please don’t use this for a reason to not do it if it’s recommended, just understand that there is a chance your dog won’t be exactly the same as they were before).
This specific discussion could be a whole novel in itself but just know that surgery is not your only option.
If you want time to think about it before making the decision to end your dog’s life, ask for the medications (pain and steroids), put your dog on crate rest, do some research, and watch their condition closely to make sure they are not declining.
Strict Crate Rest (aka. Conservative Treatment)
If the injury is not the type, or severity, that would warrant surgery, your Dachshund will be given steroids, pain medicine, and prescribed 5+ weeks of strict crate rest.
This is referred to as “conservative treatment.”
This non-surgical treatment for Dachshund back injuries may include complimentary therapies like cold laser, veterinary-supervised rehab exercises, hydrotherapy, or acupuncture.
Conservative treatment may also be an option if surgery is recommended but an owner can’t afford surgery (I know several Dachshunds that have recovered with crate rest alone).
Strict crate rest is also used as a way for your dog to to recover after surgery.
In other words, whether your dog’s disk rupture is severe or mild, strict crate rest will be necessary at some point in their recovery.
This means that your dog will have to stay in a small pen or crate for several weeks.
Putting your dog on crate rest can be challenge.
The most common mistake that people make when their Dachshund is recovering from an IVDD episode is not making them rest long enough.
There are two of the most common reasons I see that crate rest is cut shorter than it should be.
- The pain medicine and rest start to work and the owner thinks the dog “is fine” so so they let their dog out of the crate earlier than suggested.
- Guilt. Dachshunds are master manipulators and are prone to anxiety. Most Dachshunds are not used to being locked in a crate, especially when their owner is home (that’s why it’s important to crate train them from a young age just in case). They will whine, cry, and give their owner the saddest eyes until they are let out.
Not letting a dog complete a full regimen of crate rest leaves them more prone to re-injury, flare-ups, and severe issues later.
What Does it Cost for Back Surgery or IVDD Treatment?
It can cost an average of $6,000, and as much as $10,000, for Dachshund spine surgery.
I thought I was off the hook with my Dachshund Gretel because she was diagnosed with very early stage IVDD (stage 2) and didn’t need surgery.
However, although the conservative treatment was recommend her for, and the minimum for that is crate rest and medication, I opted to also:
- Take her to a dog gym for rehab exercises
- Do hydrotherapy (walking on an underwater treadmill)
- Give her cold laser treatments, and take her in for acupuncture at a holistic vet
In total, I spent about $4,000 on her treatment, which is close to the approximate low-average cost of spinal surgery.
I know that some people can’t afford the cost of surgery or rehab treatment like we did. Don’t lose hope though.
Your vet will recommend the best treatment for what you can afford.
If it’s conservative treatment, you can probably get by just with strict crate rest and medication. You don’t have to do all of the extra, costly stuff like I did.
If surgery is recommended but you can’t afford it, know that putting your dog to sleep may not be the only option.
I’ve heard of many dogs making a full recovery with a long period of crate rest and exercises/massage that can be done at home.
I also know of many that didn’t regain full mobility but are able to live happy, normal lives with a little help from a wheelchair.
Frequently Asked Questions About IVDD and Back Injuries in Dachshunds
Over the years, these are some of the most common questions I’ve received.
At what age is a back injury most likely to occur in Dachshunds?
It’s been found that most dogs who are going to develop back problems due to IVDD do so between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.
What is the chance that my Dachshund will get IVDD?
As I stated, the majority of Dachshunds have the gene that causes IVDD, but that in no way means that every Dachshund will rupture a disk.
In fact, on about 25% of Dachshunds, at some point in their lives, suffer from damage to the discs in their spines to the extent that they require veterinary treatment.
Many more have mild symptoms that may not be obvious to the eye.
Getting a Dachshund is a bit like playing roulette – it’s a gamble whether it will happen to your Dachshund or not.
In my opinion, the risk is worth it though because Dachshunds are so wonderful.
Can I test my Dachshund for IVDD?
Currently, there is no reliable test for IVDD.
The condition is strongly linked to the genes that cause Dachshunds to have short legs (dwarfism), but other genes may also be involved.
All of the genes that influence IVDD have not been identified, so a reliable genetic test is not available to detect the disease.
That means that no one – not even a “reputable breeder” – can guarantee which Dachshunds will develop IVDD and rupture a disk and which ones won’t.
Can my Dachshund live a normal life after being paralyzed?
Just because your Dachshund has IVDD doesn’t mean they can’t live a happy, normal life.
It’s also not a “death sentence” if a Dachshund becomes paralyzed and never regains full mobility.
In severe cases, a Dachshund might need a wheelchair to get around, and have some special needs, but will still live life to the fullest.
A lot of Dachshunds moderately or fully recover after treatment and can go back to their normal activities (with a few precautions, of course).
Many veterinarians today point out that you have to strike a balance between protecting your Dachshund’s back and not treating them like they are fragile to the extent that it impacts their quality of life.
Are Dachshunds the only dog breed that can have IVDD?
Although Dachshunds are the breed with the highest incidence of ruptured disks due to IVDD, they are not the only breed that is susceptible to IVDD-related back injuries.
Other breeds that can get IVDD include:
- French bulldogs (Frenchies)
- Basset Hounds
- Shih Tzus
- Jack Russel Terriers
- Mini Poodles
- Mini Pinchers
- Cocker Spaniels
I just want you to be clear about what IVDD is, how to spot a problem, and what to expect.
There is a heck of a lot more information about IVDD than I touched on here but covered the basics.
There are two amazing resources online dedicated to information about, and help for, Dachshunds with back problems – Dodgerslist and K9BackPack.
If you want to get in-depth information about Dachshund back problems, I highly suggest you check out their websites.
I hope that most of you reading this will never have to watch your pup go through a back issue with your dog.
I’ve was fortunate with my first Dachshund Chester. He was never diagnosed with IVDD and never developed a back injury.
However, ironically, Gretel did injure her back and was diagnosed with IVDD not long after I originally wrote this article.
I also have a young Dachshund, Summit, and it’s yet to be seen if she has IVDD. You bet I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for signs!
If you want to read even more information, check out my IVDD resources page and read this great article on Intervertebral Disk Disease by Seniortailwaggers.com.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
I have had 2 previous doxies and now have 2 rescue doxies. any info on them is great.
Glad you found it helpful.
My dog a five year old mini doxie Cooper all of a sudden didn’t want to go up the stairs after going potty. Took him to our vet yesterday and she found the sore area of his spine. He had a cold laser treatment, some antibiotics and a shot for pain. Took home some pain meds too. This morning he walked like he was drunk and took him out to potty and one leg was just dragging. Called vet and she said to keep him in his crate and he needed rest for a while to tell if the rest will work. Your article gave me hope, Cooper helped me get through my husbands cancer and death and I can’t bear to think of loosing him. I will be more diligient getting some weight off him, walking him more and no more jumping if he pulls through.
Hi Carol. I’m sorry to hear about Cooper. I’m glad my article gave you some hope. Be diligent about his crate rest. I know it’s hard but it’s the most important thing you can do for him. I know of fully paralyzed Doxies that made a good recovery with crate rest (although it took way longer than the 5 – 8 weeks). If you haven’t seen this, here are my tips for surviving crate rest: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/. Good luck and I hope that he pulls through too.
Well Cooper ended up having compressed disc, one was 90% compressed . He underwent surgery in October and has recovered very well. Has a little trouble with his back right leg sometimes, but the Dr. was very pleased with his recovery. I now have a ramp to my bed and a ramp to his chair, no jumping off anything. He even won a photo contest at a local restaurant in December that came with a huge basket of his favorite treats and food.
I need to buy or build ramps to couch and bed and back door. Can you help?
Maybe this is not something exactly you are looking for but this is something that we always overlook. If your dog is suffering from injuries especially neck ones then you need to check it out.
probably when we are sick we also suffer from weakness and deficiency in vitamins that keeps us strong, so we might also get damage to our bones, might be same with dogs, so in case they are recovering i guess this can help make sure they don’t get any more injury especially the neck one because that is one soft part
What did the surgery cost ?
My Dauchand surgery was 3,800. He is a week out from his surgery and has no feeling and use of bn his bvb hind legs. He weighed 30lbs before surg. So has been heavy to carry around. He does pee and poop on his own. I have yet to get him to the yard on time. I do have pads on a pillow. He is so sweet. I have only had him home for 24 and it has been A LONG 24HRS. I WONDER IF HE WILLNEVER RECOVER.
Tamara,my dig had surgery in Dec. 2016. She had 2 herniated disks. It seemed endless but she recovered to about 90% of what she was before surgery. She walks with a waddle and runs again. Hang in there.
Jo Ann, how long after surgery did your dog regain use of her back legs and ability to pee on her own? Ours had surgery on L2/L3 13 days ago and he still can’t move his back legs or tail and has no bladder control. He’s small at 14 lbs and was never overweight. We’re heartbroken but hopeful. Thanks, Bill
Hi Bill. Hopefully Jo Ann can chime in but in the meantime I wanted to.
Have you spoken to your vet about your pup’s lack of progress? I do know that responses to surgery can vary by dog and, sadly, not all surgery is successful. On the other hand though, I’ve heard many stories of dogs that could not use their back legs being able to walk again after prolonged strict crate rest and rehab like passive exercises and hydrotherapy. I’ve also heard that cold laser treatments and acupuncture can be very helpful in some cases. I hope your vet can give you some hope when you discuss her condition again.
Hi, I am curious as to how your pup is doing now ? Our dog is scheduled for surgery tomorrow and we are hoping and praying that his hind legs start moving again ( all of a sudden, he could not move his hind legs day before and we had an MRI Done yesterday .. ) and start peeing and pooping on his own.. curious to understand your experience.
I wish the best f or him my dog Buster is dragging his foot also he is 6 years old I have been keeping him in his crate he only goes out just to potty I hope with bed rest and his med this helps so worried don’t have no money for a operation.
Hi Kathy. I’m sorry to hear about Buster. I know many dogs where surgery was recommended and strict crate rest helped them to walk normally (or mostly normally) again. Not everyone can afford surgery and, honestly, it doesn’t work 100% of the time. I believe the key is a longer period of crate rest (10+ weeks) and doing exercising and stretches with them (usually you have to move their bad leg yourself at first). If you haven’t already, please check out Dodgerslist.com and K9BackPack.com. Those are two of the best resources out there for information and support.
If you live close to a veterinarian college (i.e.: Texas A & M, University of Wisconsin-Madison, etc), fees are somewhat cheaper. Sometimes they can be free if the college is doing research on that particular “illness”. I wasn’t as lucky with my girl on the research, but fee was cheaper than the $5000 mentioned above. She now walks with a hump much of the time and I am looking for information on how to relax her back so it’s not painful. She is still a very lovable, active dog.
Have you ever seen a dog recover bowel and bladder control?
Yes. They often do if they also completely recover, or at least partially (the nerves that control the bowels and bladder), the nerves in their back end. It it’s something that has been going on more than a year, the chances are slim though as I understand.
Hi. I’m not sure if you’re looking at these comments anymore, but I’m wondering what you have learned about the value of pet insurance for spinal care & treatment for dachshunds. Thank you!
Hi Cheryl. I am looking at comments, although I don’t have time to do it as often as I would like… hence the delay, sorry. Pet insurance is indispensable for me. Many companies out there cover hereditary/congenital diseases like IVDD (causes back injuries in Dachshunds). A few don’t though so be sure to verify. Pet insurance is always a gamble because you end up paying more money if you never use it. But the average cost of back surgery is $10,000 and that is likely more than you will pay for one dog for a lifetime of pet insurance. I have Trupanion, which pays veterinarians directly, so I don’t even have to pay out of pocket and wait to be reimbursed.
Very good info unfortunately I learn the hard way with one of my two Dashound which had to get two back surgery and yes they were expensive but well worth it but we had to put him done last month KAOS was almost 16 and are other Dashound JAKE past away at the age of 16 and never had problems with is back because we always caried him up the stair and we installed ramps everywhere in the house and just got a rescue Dashound female approximately 5 years old name LU-LU and now we are aware how we can prevent back problems to a point
I am sure you know a lot about back problems. It’s tough that you had to learn the hard way though. Like you said, at least you know what to do now. While IVDD issues can’t be prevented, there are certainly things that can help minimize them.
Hi Normand- my dog Bixby just had surgery and I was wondering what the cause of the second surgery was and how long after the first one yours occurred.
Enjoy your new daschund. It sounds like you are wonderful dachsie parents!
Great info! Peppie le Pipsqueak is my first dachshund (by accident), so this is definitely good to know. From one of your past articles, I learned to use a harness with him. Such a cute breed, so sad they have the issues.
Yeah. it is unfortunate. My friend, who knows a lot about dogs, was the first one to tell me about the “smallness” of the breed. Unlike a Miniature Pinscher, where the dog is actually a different breed than it’s larger counterpart, or a toy poodle that is a to-scale miniature version of a Standard Poodle, Dachshund are one of the breeds that is a true dwarf. That’s why the body looks “normal size” but the legs are short and twisty. It’s a kind of dwarfism called chondrodysplasia. That gene is one of the genes responsible for IVDD. It’s sad but so fascinating in some respects.
Fantastic article! This is, of course, my biggest fear with the breed. I really think that keeping them fit and strong is the best possible thing to do for them, and apparently short nails helps lessen the strain on the spin (not sure on that, but I’ve heard it repeatedly in Facebook canine structure groups).
I truly believe that keeping them at the proper weight and active is very important too… obvisouly. Unfortunately, that won’t stop a dog with significant IVDD from having back problems. I think it would, however, help them recover faster and maybe delay or minimize symptoms.
People on Facebook are always on me about Gretel’s nails. They are a little on the long side for sure. I clip them every week and a half but her quicks grow fast and I’m not able to get the nails to get shorter. I’ve heard the recommendations but never seen a study proving that long nails contribute to back and hip problems (not saying that info doesn’t exist). In severe cases, it makes sense that long nails would alter a dogs gait and could cause issues. Nails that are a little on the long side are not going to cripple a dog though. On a similar note, like I said, I was a bad dog owner when Chester was young. I don’t remember ever clipping his nails. He did run with me but I’m sure that was not enough. One of his back toes is slanted to the site and I’m sure it was because his nails were too long. He’s perfectly fine though. Also, I see Dachshunds in my group that have freakishly long nails. It makes me cringe but they don’t have any issues with getting around or their backs/hips. I’m just not convinced I should be freaked out by the nail thing with Gretel.
I recently experienced IVDD with my 3-year-old pup Bitsy. We opted for surgery Theough UGA Vet School and 6 weeks of crate rest. The total was about $3500, totally worth the recovery of her quality of life. My local vets and ALL of the vets I asked at the UGA Vet school advised against a back brace as it weakens the pup’s essential core muscles that aid in back/core strength. This makes sense to me. I suggest everyone consult with a good Veterinarian. If your senses tell you to seek a second opinion, then do so.
I’m sorry to hear about Bitsy. I’ve seen many people go through IVDD with their dogs and it’s scary and heartbreaking. I’m glad she recovered well.
I’m no veterinarian but that makes sense about the back brace. However, if the dog is already messed up and in pain, and a back brace helps them to be able to walk with less pain, or at all, while they are recovering, then I would say go for it. As with anything, it’s what works with your dog and most things are ok in moderation.
We have had 3 dachshunds and a dachshund mix. Buddy was our first doxie and he was the best dog. He had IVDD. Like Jessica said, it happened fast. Fine one day and hiding under a bed crying the next. By the end of that day, he couldn’t stand up. He had surgery the next day at Mississippi State’s vet school and spent a week there. They thought he would be walking again in a few weeks. He never did. We got him a cart after several months and he rolled all over the house. Then one day the bar that went under his back end to hold up his legs apparently started pressing on a nerve or something. It would make his back end twitch all over the place and he couldn’t control his movement. It really scared him. We immediately took him out of the cart but would try it every once in a while but always with the same result. He lived almost 3 years after his surgery and we had to EVERYTHING for him. We had to manually press his bladder to make him pee and, since he couldn’t control his poop, we would help with that, too. Through everything we had to do for him, he just trusted us and never fought. I still miss that little guy. As to cost…we spent about $3,000 for the surgery and medicines. He was 6 1/2 years old at the time of his surgery. We currently have 2 dachshunds and the doxie mix. We don’t know what Maggie is “mixed” with. She has the long doxie body but long legs. Whatever she is, she’s cute as can be!
Sorry you had to go through that. No Doxie owner wants to go through it. Thank you for stepping up and taking such great care of your baby. I would never give up on Chester or Gretel but taking care of a special needs dog would certainly be taxing for our active lifestyle.
Yeah…there’s no active lifestyle for people with a pup who has all those special needs. Heck, one of us was up and down all night every night. We took turns so we each could sleep every other night. Out of town trips for the whole family were out of the question. I went home at lunch when I could to check on him and express his bladder. There were no dog-sitting options. We boarded him only once during that time and he didn’t come home again. We got back to town and the vet told us he had to be put down because of bladder stones which could not be removed since we had to manually express his bladder. But he was still the best pup ever! All that work was worth it to see his happy face every day.
Well…. you’re a saint. I guess it’s like any setback in life, you just move forward and deal with it. However, it sounds like you sacrificed a lot for your baby. You went way above and beyond what a lot of people would have done, and threw yourself into it fully and willingly, and that makes you a good person. It’s something to be proud of.
I wouldn’t call me a saint. And I definitely could not have done it on my own. My husband and I made a good team on this. We just loved our Buddy and wanted him to be happy and comfortable. He was part of the family and that’s what we do for family.
I feel your pain and loss. I am still grieving my baby Shotzi, Muggie, Muggie….she was one of a kind, and like you said; they know they need you and trust you and have you do anything to them to help them…unconditional love….tears are rolling…..There is nothing like a doxie love…I had dogs all my life…Shotzi lived to be 15. I lost her Valentines Day, 2016. When she was 6, her hind legs went out…her ears went back and just starred. At the time, my “husband” which she was his dog….said “what is wrong, with her”…I yelled “you make her jump in the car, on the couch…she has a torso like a train and legs like a drumsticks….oh and those paws……I can’t. I miss those mugs…that’s why we called her Muggie…..I miss her so. Well my friend, we lived in Naple, Florida when this happened, the only Doctor in the State of Florida that did it was in Estero…an hour and a half away….3 day stay….I went up every day to see her….and $7000. later…I thanked God I was married then…..jus for that moment….and 10 weeks of therapy with her….then I had to go for therapy with my back…she weighed 18 pounds. Well Shotzi I got through our divorce and the judge asked, do you want t
, he dog or compensations for the dog……THE DOG….keep his money !!! She fore filled my life for another 9 years and did everything with her. NOW, someone didn’t want their 9 year old mini doxi long haired, with back problems and allergies….she is sitting on my lap right now, with a heating pad on her back….She needed me……Ironically She was born on February 14th 9 years ago; the same date as Muggie past this year, and I met Muggie when she was nine…..it was meant to be…. I think Muggie sent her to me. !
That is so beautiful!
I think I have told you about this before, but I was pretty set on a Dachshund or Corgi for my next dog until both of my previous dogs struggled with neurological issues. Lasya most likely had degenerative myelopathy (DM), common in German Shepherds, and Freya had a spinal tumor. I decided I didn’t want to take the risk of more back problems with a “long and low” dog. I don’t think it would stop me in the future, it was just too soon after dealing with Lasya’s long decline and Freya’s sudden paralysis. This is a really informative and important article, especially given the popularity of Dachshunds.
I totally get that. Any neurological stuff is hard to go through. Honestly, there might be a less Dachshund owners if people knew the chances. I hear so many people surprised when their dog ends up having back issues. They just don’t know the breed is prone to it. Like I said though, I was clueless for 8 years.
We lost our 6-year old doxie, Snoopy, to IVDD. One day fine, the next paralyzed. Then, major organ failure. That’s always the risk after paralysis. I blamed myself for not protecting him enough, but my vet said it was nothing I did. Still… Snoopman had a strong prey instinct. I found out later that he twisted his body by trying to dig under the fence to get to bunnies next door. That was the source of his injury.
Two years later, we rescued Bailey. She’s a joy. We’ve had fix doxies over the years, and I will always have at least one. Also have an old man like you. Kinda cranky, but still loves to snuggle.
I chuckled when reading about Bailey’s crankiness. My 15 year old, Oscar, is more than just “kinda cranky”. He wasn’t always this way but has gotten crankier with time. I read with great interest Jessica’s comment about dementia in older dogs and wondered if that might be part of his problem.
On another note, regarding the difficulty of keeping a dog crated and on bed rest in the early stages of healing a back problem, Oscar coincidentally had a back flare-up right when I was scheduled to drive with him cross country. He was paralyzed and unable to pee/poop. My friends advised me to cancel the trip but I went after consulting the vet and getting pain medication for my dog. It actually turned out to be a pretty good way to immobilize him because, when traveling, he sleeps or rests the whole time anyways. I took it slow and after 5 days he was greatly showing improvement.
Since then he has lost much weight due to major changes in how I feed him and has not had a recurrence so far.
I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Snoopy and am happy for you that you now have Bailey to love and adore. We lost our beloved rescue beagle, Arlee, from a traumatic disc rupture as a result of IVDD in October of 2021. We always described her personality as one that was like Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. She was only 3 years and 10 months when her disc ruptured from everyday running, jumping and chasing. We had no idea what IVDD was and certainly didn’t think her behavioral changes were life-threatening until we spoke to the neurologist about possible causes of paralysis. The four options presented were all potentially life-threatening and the MRI confirmed that it was a very traumatic disc rupture. It was so sad to watch her go from a playful, active young dog to complete paralysis in about 12 hours. Sadly, the concussion to her spinal cord was not operable and after giving her strict crate rest and medications, she developed myelomalacia, which is exceedingly rare. Myelomalacia is the softening of the spinal cord, which would have eventually made breathing very painful before taking her life from her. Having to put Arlee down was unbearable, but we didn’t want her to suffer. We miss our Arlee so much. She was so loyal, so happy and so sweet! She had so much love for everyone she met. We miss her terribly!
Hi Jessica. Excellent post. Thank you so much for sharing. As someone who recently adopted a dachshund, I am going to take these tips to heart and hopefully prevent back problems when he’s older.
Glad you found it helpful!
Check out this web site, Dodgers list.com, for IVDD and everything you need to know about how to take care of your Doxie. I am going thru eight weeks of conservative treatment with my Sadie with two more weeks to go. She had Laser treatment and is doing better every day. The info on dodgerslist is invaluable.
Hi Lynette. I’m very knowledgeable about IVDD through experience with dogs I walk (was a Dachshund walker in college) and the experience of my many club members (My 500 member Dachshund club) and friends who have dealt with IVDD situations. I’ve also poured over sites like K9BackBracer and Dodgerslist several times. This post was meant to be a “cliff notes” of sorts for people who don’t know as much about IVDD or need a quick refresher. I liked to our favorite resource – the K9BackPack – in this article but Dodgerslist is also a great one for people to check out if they want to get more in-depth information.
I’m glad the laser treatment has been helping Sadie. I have definitely seen a significant difference in Gretel even after only two treatments. We have two more this week I am looking forward to. I’m also going to make an acupuncture appointment for her. Have you tried that?
Great article. I’ve had two doxies and both went down hard. One at 10, the other at 6. One was lazy, the other was athletic.
Broke my heart. I want another dox soooooooo bad but am terrified of it happening again. I wish so much a cure could be found <3
Hi Coral. I understand how frustrating it can be and I’m sorry. There is a woman in my Dachshund group that said her first Dachshund became paralyzed due to IVDD and it affected the nerves to the lungs. Unfortunately, the dog didn’t make it. She said it was the more terrible thing and she vowed to never own a Dachshund again. Now she is on her 6th one! The risk isn’t for everyone but it’s true that once a dachshund lover, always a Dachshund lover 🙂
There is a cure. Breed them with shorter backs and maybe longer legs. Just enough to stop the medical problems is all. Don’t breed dogs that have the unwanted traits.
Unfortunately, that is not a cure. Around 90% of Dachshshund back problems are due to Intervertebral Disk Disease. This is a disease linked to the dwarfisim genes in dogs like Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, and other “dwarfed” breeds. It is not because of the length of their back. The other 10% of back problems are due to acute injury. In those cases, the long back may make them more susceptible so perhaps a shorter back would help there.
Then they should not be breeding them at all. Why intentionally breed a dog that will have this disease?
Hmm… well, that’s one solution I suppose. I don’t see it being realistic though. If we stopped breeding every kind of dog that was predisposed to genetic conditions, there would be very few “acceptable breeds” left. Too many people are passionate about specific breeds for the world to agree to just kill the breed off.
That sadly isnt a cure. My beautiful daschund has a shorter back as her mum wasnt a pure breed, her Dad was. She had to have major surgery for IVDD when her back legs became paralised. The vet said cross breeding makes no difference, nor having a shorter back. If the dog has the gene/s they will develop it….end off. Up till that time I thought my lovely little doxie was safe from that horrible condition. Luckily my doxie is recovering well….Ive put stair gates in my house so no more stairs for her & a gate in my garden so she cant use the steps to & fro from the house. It wont stop it but I hope these measures delay a reoccurance as she has it in the whole of her spine.
Currently she is having hydrotherapy and we are on a graduated slow increase in walk times. She is walking well, a bit wobbly when tired and is continent. She had major surgery not only on the disc that exploded in her spine but to several other discs in the hope that it will prevent a reoccurance -not guaranteed. I pray a test is found soon for screening -its much needed so healthy daschund lines can be developed free of this awful genetic disease…..pleased to hear one is in the process at research stage. My lovely Doxie is seven years old. Shes gorgeous, funny, loving & devoted. Shes very special to me……I know lots of doxie owners feel the same.
In Great Britain they made it law that you can’t breed defects in dogs and that includes backs that are too long, noses so short they can’t breathe, dogs that can’t give birth naturally so they have c sections. They also outlawed cropping ears and tails.
Breeds now have to change to become compliant. I wish they would do that here in the US. Striving for a certain look at the expense of the dog’s health isn’t fair to the dogs.
If you research pictures of our current breeds from 50 years ago you will see quite different dogs. If you want to have your breasts implanted that is your choice. The dogs don’t get that choice. Maybe we need to rethink what we are doing.
Like I said above, most of the back issues in Dachshunds are genetic and linked to the drarfisim gene. Dachshunds ARE dwarves. That can’t be bred out of them. One can breed for shorter backs but to eliminate the Intervertebral Disk Disease causing most issues, the breed (and all dwarfed breeds) would have to be eradicated.
I too see breeds that have been bred for traits that make them more susceptible to physical problems like difficulty breathing and hip displaysia. I think it’s a good thing that the Great Britian is setting a precedent to do something about that breeding practice. However, I am curious how they are handling the Dachshund breed because of what I mention above? Is GB merely wanting Dachshunds to be “less dwarfed” in hopes that the issue is lessened a bit?
I don’t know about this breed specifically but I know they would not be able to breed them at all if the results would be sick dogs. You are not allowed to breed to continue health issues. It makes sense. Breeding for a certain look when the results are a debilitating disease should not happen. If it can’t be bred out I’d imagine it would be illegal to breed.
That would be an interesting development for sure.
The one thing I don’t see mentioned in the article or the responses is chiropractic care. I have a 13 year old dachshund who has a history of spinal problems. I was told, by the vet, when she first experienced spinal issues – 7 years ago – that she would require $1800 surgery which had an 80-90% chance of leaving her paralyzed for the rest of her life. Seeking an alternative to paralyzing my young dog or having her “put down”, I reached out to a chiropractor in my area who treated animals as well as humans. Long story short, she was fine after 3 treatments. In the past 7 years, she has had multiple episodes and ALL have been successfully treated with chiropractic care, crate rest and, now that she’s a little older, veterinarian prescribed anti-inflammatories (short-term) to help reduce swelling around her vertebrae. Chiropractic care has literally saved me thousands of dollars and has added many happy years to my doxie’s life. To find a veterinary chiropractor in your area, you can go to the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association website: animalchiropractic.org
Thanks for the information Karen. My vet didn’t sound enthusiastic about chiropractic medicine for IVDD. You’re not the first person to mention great success with it though. I think I am going to look into it more.
What are the major differences (other than size) between regular and miniature dachshunds? Is one more prone to back issues than the other? Also which is generally less active and more laid back? This is a great article thanks for sharing!!
Hi Holly. Size IS the main difference between a standard and mini Dachshund. Dachshund are one of the breeds where the two “categories” are based on weight, not genetics. A mini or “tweenie” Dachshund can product standard offspring and visa-versa (although reputable breeders do a pretty good job of knowing what their lines will produce). One is not more prone to back issues than the other. Since back issues are caused by IVDD, and IVDD is a genetic disease, and both standard and mini Dachshunds have the same genetics, the risk is the same. Although not solely predicted by it, IVDD is related to the dwarfism gene (the Dachshund is a “dwarfed” breed). There area also other breeds affected by this disease, although to a lesser extent. It’s fairly common in French Bulldogs and can also affect Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels and a few more.
I don’t have a lot of experience with standard Dachshunds but it’s my understanding that there are no temperament differences between the sizes. However, there IS a general temperament difference between the coat type. Smooth coats are “friendly and energetic”. Wire hairs (which are more closely related to terriers) are “spunky and clownish. Long haired Dachshunds are said to be sweeter and calmer. This is a good explanation of the differences:
Hope that answers your questions 🙂
I am thinking about getting a dachshund but am worried about the back issues that they have. My fiancé says that miniature dachshunds don’t have the back problems that a full size one does. Is this true?
Hi Claire. That is completely incorrect. Miniature and standard Dachshunds are the same genetically and both carry the dwarfisim gene – one of the known genes that influence Intervertebral Disk Disease and Dachshund back problems. All of the research I read says that 1 in 5 Dachshunds will have back problems in their lifetime. If you aren’t comfortable with that risk, and willing to take care of it if it does happen, please do not get a Dachshund.
Be aware that Dachshunds are not the only breed that can have the disease and back issues. Other breeds include the French Bulldog and Chihuahua… although it’s not as common in these breeds. Most breeds come with some kind of “genetic weakness” though.
Whatever your choice, good luck with your new pup.
Breeding dogs that are prone to suffer because of the way their bodies are built is irresponsible. I had a dachshund and watching her suffer for many years was heartbreaking. No dog deserves to suffer like that because people like a fancy body shape.
I agree in some cases but unfortunately, with Dahchshunds it’s in the whole breed. If you read the whole article, you will understand that back issues are caused by genetics, not specifically a “fancy body shape” (although it is also genetics that determine body shape – in this case the gene that caused dwarfisim and the short legs). If one did not breed a dog because they were a dwarf breed and at risk, then the Dahcshund breed, and many others like french bulldog and cocker spaniels, would cease to exist. You could also elimiate dogs like German Shepherds because the breed is prone to hip displaysia.
This was a great blog. My little lady, Sophie was paralyzed about a week ago and I found this extremely supportive and informative. It is such an overwhelming task to care for them through it, but, this made me not feel so alone in this hard time.
Hi Beth. I am so sorry to hear about Sophie but I’m glad that my article helped. Hang in there!
Hi my beautiful Abby just hurt her back on Monday. She is 11 and when she was a pup she injured her neck which healed. She can use he back legs, so she is in her crate, on meds and receiving acupuncture and laser. I am having a very hard time expressing her. It is not happpening. She does wet her pee pee pad, but it could just be dripping out. I received a tutorial today, however Abby’s bladder was empty. I try and apply pressure but it’s not happening. Have others had this problem…I feel sort of dumb but it’s just not happening.
Hi Cindy. I never had to deal with this so I can’t offer any advice other than pointing you to another tutorial. I suggest you join this very helpful Facebook group and ask your question there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/408512465849039/
My dachshund slipped a disc about a month ago and I could not afford to have the op done on his spine.I took him to a holistic vet who did a few acupuncture sessions on him and at 2 weeks implanted gold beads.She insisted on cage rest but I must say I found it very hard to do as I felt so sorry for him.Its been a month now and my dachshund can stand, walk very wobbly and even scratch his ear with his weaker back leg.Its been very traumatic for me as he is only 6 but luckily was very fit.I think I shed more tears (of joy) watching his wobbly walk than when I discovered he was paralyzed.
I’m sorry about your pup. I am glad he is doing better. I know it’s hard but strict crate rest is the single best thing you can do with an IVDD dog. The disks can’t fuse and properly heal themselves without it. Your dog has more riks of reinjury without complete healing. Please consider at least significatly restricting his activity until at least the 6 week mark. There are many resources to help you. I wrote an article about surviving crate rest (hint: It bothers you more than him) you can check out here: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/. Also, the Dodgerslist.com and K9BackPack.com websites are the best resources on the web for dealing with IVDD. Good luck to you guys.
I am now experiencing this with my almost 13 year old doxie. It’s heart breaking. Thank you for the post. I was getting conflicting info on the web from my vet was saying and this gave me some clarification. We are on day 4 with my swee Corey. The hardest part is he never wants me to leave his side. Any advice?
Hi Carrie. I am sorry about your Corey. Do you mean advice on crate rest? If yes, check out my “surviving it” post here: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/. The biggest tip I can offer is to just stay dedicated and strong. The more anxious you are about it, the more anxious he will be. I’ve seen other people put their dog in a wagon (like a red kids wagon or cargo wagon) with sides so they can’t get out and bedding, or putting a small crate in/on the wagon, and pulling them around the house with them. Good luck.
My doxi. Buttons was paralyzed on thurs. The vet said it was too late for surgery and did manipulation treatment and a pulse treatment. Im keeping him in the crate but he panting very hard and will not lie down. Plus he is shaking. I dont understand how that is good for him.
Hi Cindy. I’m sorry to hear about Buttons. I know how heartbreaking it is to see our babies in pain. It sounds like your vet determined that your best option for treatment at this time is strict crate rest. Crate rest is a necessary step to healing whether a dog gets surgery or not. I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of research when my Gretel needed crate rest. This is my understanding: During crate rest, a dog is kept relatively immobile. Because of this, scar tissue is able to form around, and on top of, the disk causing the pain. This scar tissue essentially holds in the disk material and fuses the two adjacent vertebrae together. It takes a minimum of 5 week, and many times as much as 8, for this scar tissue to form. Once the scar tissue is present, that particular disk is unlikely to be an issue in the future. However, these kind of injuries are caused by IVDD and if your pup has that there is a possibility that another disk will rupture and cause pain in the future. Some good resources about this are K9BackPack.com and Dodgerslist.com.
I know that keeping your pup on strict crate rest is challenging. It’s 110% necessary though for a dog to fully heal. If they don’t, they will likely continue to have problems with this same disk over and over. You need to stay strong and hang in there. You might want to read by blog post on surviving crate rest with your dog: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/
As for the shaking itself, there could be several reasons. Buttons could just be a little nervous if he is not used to being in a crate (I am a huge proponent of Dachshunds crate training for this very reason). Dogs often shake and pant when they are stressed. It could also be that he is still experiencing some pain. You might want to discuss it with your vet and perhaps they might prescribe more pain medication. Good luck to you and Buttons.
Is there a higher risk of back problems with standard size dachshunds?
Hi Sophia. I’m not 100% sure as I haven’t had as much experience with Standards as Minis. However, my understanding is that there is not a difference. IVDD is what causes the back problems and it’s liked to the dwarfism gene. Both standard and miniature Dachshunds are considered dwarves so they could be affected.
That was a great article and I loved reading all the stories. I have a 4 year old dachshund name Sophie. Just like you said went to bead fine woke next morning wobbling on her back legs. Took her to vet and said it was IVDD, she is on meds and they are doing the laser treatments. Dr. said he is optimistic so we are going to hope and pray for the best. I have been trying to learn how to help her relieve her bladder. It takes a little practice but my Dr said bring her by anytime they will do it.
Im from Namibia in Africa…our doxies are paralized on Thusday and we are 500km from the nearest vet!
We we got at the vet he said he has sit feeling in his tissue that was good…we got there today and it was gone!My heart break in to mil pieces!Its my baby boy his now 7 years old…but his stil has feeling in his bones….they are gone try rehab with swimming and acip tuir for 5 days to see if his improves…..I pray its work I dont want to put him down his my baba boy and his moms blue eyed boy…..any advise?
Hi Jean-marie – I am sorry this happened to your baby. If I’m understanding your correctly, he had some feeling in his (I assume) back feet but now he has lost that. I am no vet but, in my experience, if a Dachshund is rapidly losing feeling, surgery is usually recommended. In fact, it’s usually a pretty urgent matter here in the US. While there is a chance he will show some improvement, or at least not get worse, with rehab and medication, 5 days is a very short time to tell. It is common practice to place a dog on strict crate rest so they can’t move around much for 6-8 weeks (a vet will usually do supervised rehab during that time though). Dogs with more severe conditions (like it sounds like yours has) usually need a lot longer. I’m assuming surgery was not recommended to you or you cannot afford it. I hope that your baby gets better with rest and rehab alone. If not, it’s up to you whether you want to put him down or not. Many vets will recommend that but it’s not always necessary. Many people care for a paralyzed dog who goes on to live a happy life. There are also a few cases where a paralyzed dog was able to walk again after a long period of rest and rehab (a year or more). Both scenarios are a big commitment though and not everyone has the time or money to go that route. In reality, even if your dog receives surgery, there is no 100% guarantee that it will fix the problem. It usually does though. I wish the both of you the best of luck.
Thank you for your article. It has really given us some hope. We came home last night and our Lucy was having issues. She was struggling to walk with “drunken” back legs, and panting in pain. I crated her right away. We can’t get her to the vet until tomorrow but, we are keeping her comfortable and still.
Hi Jason. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I’m sorry to hear about Lucy. I looks like you’ve been to the vet by now. Can you give us an update? I hope that it’s noting too serious. It does, unfortunately, sound like it could be a pinched nerve or IVDD though 🙁
Hello. We are also in Seattle and our 9 year old is showing a few of these symptoms for the first time. She is resting willingly, not crying out, but a little shaking after she walks a little. It seems like the lower back muscle, not spine, is her sore spot. I will take her in to get checked.
Do you have a fav vet in the area if this becomes surgical?
Hi Jenny. I’m sorry to hear about your pup. I hope it’s not IVDD when you take her in to get checked. Gretel didn’t need surgery for hers so I didn’t have to do a lot of research on it. If I had to get it done though, I would likely have it done where Gretel’s rehab doctor is – the Animal Medical Clinic of Seattle. They’re taken really good care of Chester and Gretel there and I trust them. Their prices are a little on the higher end though. It sounds like if you pup has IVDD it’s very mild too like Gretel’s so surgery is unlikely to be recommended (they don’t seem to do that until their is some paralysis). Fingers crossed for you guys. Just a note: If you don’t have pet insurance, you may want to consider signing up before you take your pup in to get checked. NO insurance will cover pre-existing condition, which the back would become if the vet checks it out and makes any notes about pain. A back surgery can cost $7,000 to $10,000. Even with insurance you have to pay that up front but they’ll give most of it back to you. You also need to make sure that the insurance covers congenital/hereditary conditions. Not all do. I have Trupanion and they do though. I believe PetPlan also does. Good luck!
hello, I’m concerned about back issues with my two young dachshunds. they are both only approaching two years of age but I want to make sure they have the best chance as I can give them for not having back issues, at least for as long as I can. my boy. Roscoe, is about 25lbs so he’s the one I’m most concerned about right now. he is he is big chested but not over weight, at least I don’t believe he is over weight. I can feel his ribs easily and he has the right hour glass figure. both he and Daisy Mae don’t start their day using their hind legs, instead the lay them back and pull them along as they stretch and wake up. Roscoe loves to play ball, more to the point he is addicted to his ball, and my partner is throwing the ball frequently off the bed and Roscoe runs down the stairs to retrieve it. I complain and my partner says I am worrying too much. when Roscoe is resting and I try to pick him up or scoot him out of the way he gets agitated and growls. i rub his back a lot and he doesn’t bother him, he likes it a lot. I’ve read your article on dachshunds and backs and found it helpful but thought I would ask about these habits and ask whether you thought I was worrying too much.
Hi Erich. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I was sick for a while and then out of town.
When Roscoe growls, it sounds more like a dominance thing or just plain ol’ grumpiness. Back injuries related to IVDD often happen suddenly – they go from fine to in great pain or paralyzed. It’s unlikely he is growling from back pain unless he has has an injury before. I would definitely keep an eye out for signs of pain or back problems though. It never hurts.
Gretel did start skipping a back leg when she walked a couple or weeks before her back injury that I suspect is related. However, she didn’t exhibit any signs of discomfort prior. It was her skipping her leg that alerted me to a potential problem though so I was able to catch her’s early on.
Whether you want to play ball with your other pup is a personal choice. As I said in this article, back injuries in younger Dachshunds are almost always caused by the IVDD disease. You won’t know your dog has it until something happens. If they don’t have it, then repeatedly chasing the ball is not a high risk. In fact, it’s a great way to get exercise and burn off stress/energy. If your dog does have the condition but you don’t know it yet, yes, chasing the ball could cause an onset of symptoms. However, many Dachshunds with IVDD suffer back complications after doing something simple like jumping up from a nap. Bottom line: It’s has it’s risks – but also it’s benefits – and prohibiting your pup from playing ball isn’t going to prevent a back injury if they have IVDD. It may prolong it though and help with your guilt if something does happen (see, I didn’t think we should have played ball so much vs. Well, there was nothing I could do since it happened while trying to get up off the dog bed).
Merely being aware of IVDD and the potential for back injuries puts you ahead of a lot of Dachshund owners.
We have a Dixie who has always growled if we pet or rub her sides. My husband says she may be ticklish (lol). She’s always done this & I have to admit he may be right. Otherwise she’s a sweetheart..
I wish that I had known sooner about the importance of taking care of their little backs. My dog is incredibly fit and lean, but we never made much of an effort of keep him from jumping off of things and running up and down the stairs. His entire hindquarters are now paralyzed. He had the surgery and is now taking steroid pills and pain meds. I’ll make sure that he gets his proper crate rest. How long, do you think, should he stay in his crate? Also, he hasn’t pooed for nearly a week now. Is there a way to help him to go?
Hi Justine. I’m sorry to hear about your pup. The main point of my article is that a Dachshunds back problems, unless they are hit by a car or take a huge fall, is that it’s caused by a disease you can’t control. Preventing him from using stairs and jumping off of things would only prolonged the inevitable – not prevented it. If an injury was going to happen, it could have easily happened when we was getting up from bed. However, now that you know he has back issues, yes, the jumping thing should be minimized. My rehab vet makes the argument that going up stairs helps keep their muscles strong. Please be sure to check out my other resources on minimizing any future episodes. http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/inervertebral-disk-disease-ivdd-resources/
If your dog has not pooped in a week, you should contact your vet immediately. They can determine why and might be able to give him something. Most often in these cases though it’s because the muscles needed to do it aren’t working. You may have to learn what they call “manually expressing” his poop. I am shocked that your vet did not mention that to you. I’ve learned through this whole process with Gretel (the IVDD) that many vets don’t really understand the condition though. If your vet can’t help you, you can probably look up how to do this online. As far as crate rest, the MINIMUM is 5-6 weeks. We waited 8 to be sure the scar tissue has properly formed over her disk.
I also suggest checking out Dogerslist.com. the K9BackPack.com and joining the Dachshund IVDD support group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/408512465849039/. These resources will help you to fill in the blanks where your vet has not given you all of the information that you need. Good luck!
This is my first Dachshund, his name is Bug. About 6 months now. He was running around the house when I got home and let him out and now he is curled up in his bed crying and sharp breathing. Basically all the signs listed in IVDD. Vet doesn’t open until 9:00 am. Is it possible it came on so fast at this early age? Help 🙁 worried about my poor puppy!
Hi Kelly. I’m so sorry to hear about your pup. I’m not a vet so I can’t tell you what it is but, from what I understand, yes, it could be IVDD. If it is, it’s crucial that you get your dog to the vet as soon as you can. Is there a 24-hour emergency vet in the area? If you have to wait, I would keep him immobile in a crate until you can get in. Good luck.
My family got our first miniature dachshund about 13 years ago. He lived to be around just 5 years old before he got diagnosed with IVDD. We let the vet keep him for a week of therapy but he ended up worse than where he started and we ended up having to put him down, not really knowing about crating at the time. Fast forward to today and we have a 6, almost 7 year old miniature dachshund who just got diagnosed with IVDD this morning. The vets said the damage was very minimal and prescribed pain meds, a steroid and crating and had high hopes of recovery. However, just in the last 24 hours he has gone from being able to some what use his back legs to not being able to use them at all. Our family is heart broken and dreading the thought of possibly having to put our second one down.
Hi Alexis. I’m so sorry you are going through this. Unfortunately, as you probably understand, it’s not uncommon for a dog with IVDD to go from “not too bad” to worse. It’s my understanding that, in those cases, surgery is often recommended. I also understand that it’s expensive and not everyone can afford it. I have heard several stories though were surgery was recommended for a dog but the owners went with conservative treatment (crate rest, therapy, rehab) and their dog made a good, if not full, recovery after 6-12 months. That’s a long road though. I hope that it turns around for your current pup or that you can find some treatment that works. Good luck. I’m thinking good thoughts for ya.
My dachshund was fine at 8pm on Valentines Day this year. By midnight she was totally paralyzed in the back. She had to have back surgery for a herniated disk. Sone of the pieces of the disk were pressing on her spinal cord on the left so she is much weaker at this point on her left side. She will be 3 in July. She has done so well that the surgeon released her to do what she wants around the house with the exception of jumping. She know when she’s had nough exercise. She comes to me and I put her in the chair beside me where she sleeps. I am considering the back brace for her but am not sure. My biggest concern is that her back is humped up. I am curious as to whether it will flatten back down. Any answers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for the blog.
Hi Joan. Sorry to hear about your pup but glad she is doing better. I’ve seen many Dachshunds after back surgery and almost all of them have a humped back after. It really seems pretty normal from what I’ve seen. These dogs went on to live a totally normal, active life though. If you are concerned, I would talk with your vet. If it was my dog, I wouldn’t worry about it. Good luck.
I have an 8 year old dachshund whose back just went out. My husband thinks I should have her put down. But I am not really wanting to do that. She can not go potty by herself right now. She has been at the vet since last Saturday. I don’t know what to do.
Hi Deana. I’m sorry to hear about your pup. If you haven’t already, please check out Dogderslist.com, K9BackPack.com and join this Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/408512465849039/ Collectively, these people have over 100 years of experience with this. You will find help there.
That being said, I CAN share my experience and knowledge as a pet owner who has quite a bit of experience with this through other dogs I’ve known over the years. First, a Dachshund with an advanced IVDD injury will be paralyzed and not be able to potty on their own. I’ve known many dogs in this situation that has a successful recovery with surgery. Surgery does not always work though. Whether a dog gets surgery or not, they need a minimum of 6 weeks strict crate rest (confined to crate unless carried out to go potty) and rehabilitation treatments/exercise (like controlled physical exercises, massage, passive-motion exercises, etc.) I have heard of several dogs that were completely paralyzed, did not undergo surgery, went through a conservative crate rest and rehab routine, and recovered enough to live a normal life. I also know some that never regained use of their back legs, and couldn’t ever potty on their own, and live a full life in a wheelchair. However, with the latter, the dog does require a fair amount of specialized care.
I don’t know your situation or your dog’s condition. You may want to ask your vet about surgery. If you’ve already discussed that and can’t afford it, you still have a chance of making your dog better… which COULD also take a good amount of money to have the best chance. if you can’t afford that, use the resources and websites I listed above and do the best you can on your own for the lowest cost you can afford. It may work and it may not. If you don’t want to, I wouldn’t be quick to put your dog to sleep as a first option. However, you have to honestly ask yourself if you can live with the care (and the expense) if she never recovers?
I’m sorry you have to go through this. I know how heartbreaking it is. I hope you can be at peace with whatever decision you make.
I had a Dachshund when I was a kid. I loved that little bitch. She had beautiful puppies and a superb temperament. But, she loved to jump down stairways. It ended up injuring her back to the point where it was necessary to have her put down. Pretty rough.
Anyway, I was wondering whether regular exercise by swimming would help with preventing disc degeneration and/or aid in healing of back problems in the little guys. I have had a lot of German Shepherd Dogs, and I always kept them lean and fit with regular and vigorous swimming to prevent hip dysplasia from developing. I had a 100% success rate. Not a single one of my GSDs developed dysplasia. I realize that Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a degenerative problem, and I think it is unlike hip dysplasia which is the failure of the hip joints to develop normally, I’m wondering if the strengthening of the muscles that support the spine might delay or prevent IVDD from becoming a catastrophic problem for a Dachshund.
My poor Paisley jumped off chair yesterday and did a nerve in. I took him immediately to the doctor and they gave him steroid shot. I am home most of the time. Is it ok if he snuggles with me instead of being in his crate?
He is a lot calmer when he is sleeping with me on the couch which he has been doing, unless I get up I pick him up and take him with me. He is not out of my sight right now.
Hi Deborah. I’m sorry to hear about Paisley. This is definitely something you should discuss with your vet. That being said, Gretel’s rehab vet said she could sit on the couch with me after the first couple of weeks as long as she had a harness on and I held onto her so there was absolutely no way she could jump up fast or jump down. She has to stay on very strict crate rest (only carrying out to potty, short leash when she did so she couldn’t walk around, feeding her in the crate, etc.) for the first two weeks though.
I took Paisley to doctor yesterday for 3rd steroid. She really was not sure why we were giving it because she said if the first and second one did nothing, the 3rd will probably do nothing. When she saw him for the first time Friday, which was the second shot, she asked if I thought about surgery because he actually digressed from the day before. He can’t use his back legs at all and drags his butt. She did not see very encouraging about doing the crate healing method. I asked her about being by me on the couch where he loves to be and she said you just have to watch the jostling around. We are looking into cart right now. Doctor saw how he is so strong and used his 2 front legs to come to me when she was checking his ability on the ground. He is constantly peeing from the steroid shot which is great but I can’t keep up with it. It mostly happens when I pick him up and/or put pressure around his bladder. God help me I am not going to give up on him! I just need support!
Hi Deborah. I’m sorry that Paisley is having a hard time with recovery. Please read Annie’s comment below for some encouragement. Two of her pups had disk herniation and recovered with rest and alternative treatments. Surgery is typically what’s recommended when a dog continues to get worse or not improve but it IS possible for them to heal without it. I’m so glad to hear you are dedicated to helping him live a happy life no matter what happens. I know several dogs who a partially or fully paralyzed and do just fine with a doggy wheelchair.
Thank you for this amazing article you have written !!! it gave me a lot of information as i had no idea what could happen to my doxie, whose name is also Chester.
Chester had an instant back problem two days ago and when i say instant, i mean it happened within minutes. He immediately got his back legs paralyzed 🙁 It was the most devastating moment in my life, I immediately rushed him to the hospital and he is in the surgery within the hour.
That was good news but I saw that the content of the disk which was putting a pressure to his spine was pushing in about 80%. So they have removed that in the surgery and he is curently in the recovery room.
the following morning, which was less than 24 hours from the surgery, they did a sense test from his let and he didnt react to it. I know i should not think bad about it but i am wondering what kind of recovery is expected.
Any input greatly appreciated
I’m so sorry you and Chester are going through this. That’s the scary part about IVDD-caused back injuries, there is almost always no warning 🙁 It sounds like surgery was the best option for him. As far as recovery, all dogs progress differently. Some show immediate improvement after surgery while others slowly improve over the crate rest period. Sadly, the surgery is not 100% effective. Not all dogs are “like new” after and a very, very few are not helped by it. I’ve never experienced a Dachshund that didn’t recover at least moderately though so let’s think positive thoughts for Chester! It just sounds like he might be one to recover slowly. The typical crate rest period is at least 6-8 weeks so hopefully he will be mostly recovered by then. Good luck to you guys!
Thank you Jessica for the great response and positive thinking. I dont think this is the IVDD caused back injury. I am looking at the discharge notes, and the doctor states IVDH, IVD Hernia?
So far we are in the 3rd day and still no improvement, but I want to say and think that Chester just needs more time to heal and I need to give him the comfort he needs.
Do you have any thoughts on the IVDH?
also, one is not trained to do the best to the road to recovery. Any suggestions?
Thank you so much for helping out in this very tough times we are going through.
The “H” stands for herniation so IVDH would be Intervertebral Disk Herniation versus “D – Disease”. From what I read, IVDH is typically caused by IVDD. However, it might be possible that your vet considers IVDH and isolated incident while a dog can continue to have issues throughout their lifetime if they have IVDD. However, in everything I’ve read, the two terms are used almost interchangeably with IVDH being caused by IVDD. Either way, the treatment and recovery process is the same from what I understand. Hopefully you have seen some improvement in Chester’s condition by now.
Thank you Again Jessica for all this information.
Chester passed away on Thursday, as his lungs started to fail. I had no choice but end his misery, which broke my heart significantly.
I tried to give him nothing but an amazing life, traveled many countries, many US cities, even to company meetings. He was loved by many. He even met and hung out with celebrities.
Just like all the dogs we own, he was truly an angel, who touched to many hearts, and thought us many lessons.
Aaah! Jessica…I’ve read this blog, possibly 8 times today already.
I have 3 dachshunds (1 of which is mixed with jack Russel)
In 2015 (March) my doxie X (Charlie) showed all the symptoms of IVDD, it was the first time this had happened. I never knew of this sort of disorder, nor did I know it was genetic. I blamed myself over and over.
Took him to the vet the minute he became paralysed. They said he must undergo surgery….due to lack of funds/ finances, it wasn’t an option for me. Instead, I opted for alternative therapy. I chose acupuncture and hydrotherapy. He started walking again (unaided) within 8 weeks.
This year 2017 (March) exactly 2 years later… my other dachshund showed IVDD symptoms…I kept calm. Thanks to the success I had the first time. With crate rest and choosing to start with acupuncture immediately, and later on we did hydrotherapy, she could walk perfectly again within 18days!
I started thinking I could be called a pro at this rate.
2 weeks later the doxie X (Charlie) became paralysed AGAIN!
Whaaaaaaaat!!? No…this is MY fault, I’m a bad bad baaaaad mommy..
We are currently undergoing therapy again – cold laser, acupuncture and hydrotherapy.
He is showing really good signs since we started the therapy 2 weeks ago, and we will keep progressing.
He will be ok again. 🙂
Thank you Jesssica, not once did I know it was named as IVDD or know that it was in actual fact, genetic.
I was so ashamed about the 3rd incident that I kept it quiet. I was worried people would talk, or accuse me of neglect or abuse.
But your blog has put my guilty conscience to rest.
*sigh of relief*
Ps- to everyone out there who owns a fur kid with IVDD….don’t give up…
Be patient, be persistent and shower them with love. ❤️
Hi Annie. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m often contacted by people who can’t afford surgery for their dog who has become paralyzed from IVDD. I knew that recovery without surgery was possible but didn’t have a specific example I could point them to. Now I do! Thanks again and good luck to Charlie.
I have a 6 year old doxie that has hurt his back. His name is Shotzie. He was very active and this came on all of a sudden. I noticed it on Friday night, had him at the vet Saturday morning and have had him confined. He is on steroids, pain meds and anti-inflammatory. He stopped eating on Sunday. How long can he go without eating? He does drink water. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks.
Hi Mike. I’m sorry to her about your pup. A dog often won’t eat when they are in pain or very anxious. That’s probably what’s happening here. I can’t say for sure how long a dog can go without eating. I’m guessing they won’t starve themselves but I don’t know. You can try plain rice and unseasoned chicken. The bland food is sometimes more appealing because it’s less likely to upset their stomach. You can also try pureed chicken baby food. If he still won’t eat, I would certainly speak with your vet.
Within about 4 hours, our 6 year old dachshund went from completely normal, to unable to walk, only standing for short periods of time. I took her to the emergency hospital and they gave her a steroid and told me to limit her mobility. When we left the hospital, she was standing and walking. I carried her out to go potty and up to her bed (on the floor). In the early morning, she was restless, so I cuddled with her in bed and she slept for a couple hours.
When we got up for the day, we carried her out to go potty again, but she couldn’t walk, stand or even urinate. We rushed her to the hospital again and they said they would check her again. They told us she would likely need surgery, but would have a better idea with an MRI, which we did for about $2200.00
They then told us she would either need surgery, or she would likely die within a couple of days (wouldn’t be able to urinate. The surgery would cost an additional $10,000, and I was unemployed! They also said there were no guarantees and she might even die within a few days after surgery.
We had to make the decision right then in there because she was on the operating table under anesthesia!
This was heart wrenching to say the least and I was numb from shock. We sadly had to put her down.
A couple weeks later, a chiropractor told me one of his patients brought in his dachshund who was paralyzed, and he was able to get him walking again.
I feel like there were more options for us other than surgery, but when you’re in that situation and have to make a fast decision, it is hard to know what those are. Why wouldn’t the surgeons, specializing in spinal problems know that there are other options? I’ve been a bit angry and sad about the whole thing, thinking there was something else that could have been done.
It is good to know from this page that there are other options.
I’m so sorry you had to go through that Maggie. Sadly, your story is not unique. I’m not sure why veterinarians don’t present all of the options. I think a large part of it is that they just aren’t educated about the issue. Also, I don’t think there are many, if any, studies on alternative treatments like chiropractic adjustments and the potential affects on paralysis. Doctors like science and if the science doesn’t say it works (even if it’s just that there IS no science about it at all), they are not comfortable recommending such a treatment.
I’ve never heard of a Dachshund dying on their own from IVDD unless the ruptured disk was in the neck. There could be cases out there though. There are certainly Dachshunds that have undergone surgery and not recovered – remained paralyzed and unable to potty without assistance. I know a few of those that live happily by using a dog wheelchair though.
All of this information is not to make you sad. I truly believe you did the best you could with the information and resources that you had. I understand you are disappointed but please don’t beat yourself up. Take care.
My 10 year old dachshund has had pain in the lower back and some immobility for two weeks. He can go potty but I have to carry him in and out. I have been giving him tramadol twice a day and keeping him on bed rest but I know he must see a vet for xrays, diagnosis, and pain meds. My problem is that I am a senior citizen on fixed income (social security only) and do not have funds for big vet bills. Do you know of anybody or any organization or veterinary clinic in Seattle who can help in situations as mine. I am in a panic about my dog and my inability to get him medical treatment he needs asap. Please advise, and thank you for your well-written and informative blog.
Hi Cheryl. I am sorry about your situation. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any resources to help you. I suggest contacting a local pet rescue or two and asking them. I am sure they will understand what your option are much better than me.
I own a dachshund/corgi mix. She is two years old but was just recently adopted from a shelter. I am beginning to teach her tricks in which she has mastered the basics: sit, shake and lay down. However I am also looking towards teaching her some more advanced tricks like roll over. I know dachshunds are known for their back issues and was wondering if rolling over would injure her in any way. Please let me know if I should proceed to teach her to roll over or if that would result in any further injury. Thank you
Hi Val. I am not a veterinarian. However, I can share what I know based on my experience.
First, as you read, a Dachshund’s back issues are caused by a disease (unless they are hit by a car or something). This is not something you can predict or control. A dog that has the disease can hurt their back jumping up from their bed, running, walking or, yes, rolling over. Rolling over won’t cause a Dachshund that doesn’t have IVDD to hurt their back though (unless there is some freak accident). If your dog has had back trouble in the past, you may want to avoid it if you want to be extra cautious. However, Gretel has the disease and regularly squirms around on her back on the floor – twisting her body back and forth – with no issues. As with anything, it’s not a guarantee. It’s a slight possibility that she could injure her back in that moment. She could also injure it, as a I said, from jumping up from her bed. If your dog has not had back issues before, it’s not something to be concerned about.
Okay, thank you so much
My dog is 7 years old and thanklfully he just have had some minor problems. BUT the big thing is that in my country there is so little a vet can do and sometimes (most times) vet doesn’t even care. For them it’s just “animal”, but for me it’s everything! I wanna move . But thanks for the info.
Hi Eva. Yes, that is a drawback when it comes to veterinary care in more rural areas. Often times it is cheaper but they may not understand more complex issues or understand the difference between a “resource” animal and one that is part of the family. Where do you live? Is there a more helpful/educated vet within 2 hours of you? I know many people who have to travel that far to seek care for big medical issues.
Hi Jessica! I live in Latvia,Riga.
In my case i don’t know any good or even caring vet’s. If i would have to walk far away to get to a good vet i would.This vet that ive been going to lately is ok, but i can see that she wants to make money no matter what(overpriced). At least she gave medicine to my dog( Dachshund) that helped. Two days ago he jumped from the stairs and got hurt. But today he is up and running- thank God!
Hi Eva. That makes sense. I am sorry you don’t have the resources you need.
If the vet did not rule out Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), I would do more research yourself on signs and symptoms. It sounds to me like that is what your dog has (but I am not v et – just really experienced with the disease). If so, you probably need to put your pup on crate rest. At least for a few weeks. It’s a difficult thing to have to do but the disk can’t heal without it and you will continue to have problems with the same disk over and over. Just a suggestion anyway. Medication will make them act like they are better right away when then are really not. Here is an article I wrote about our experience with crate rest: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/dog-crate-rest-tips/
Either way, good luck.
Thank you so much! Will def listen to your advice 🙂
P.S. I think you would be a great vet! 🙂
This is an issue I wish I had been aware of long ago. Our doxie Lucy was a jumping, running powerhouse. We loved her jumping up on the couch or bed to cuddle with us. One night she was fine, but in the morning as I took her out for walk she staggered like a drunk. I still was unaware of spine disc issues and got her to the vet immediately, thinking maybe spider or scorpion bite. She was only 5, but badly injured, had the surgery, and never regained use of her back legs. We got her a wheelchair for daily walks and learned to live with a completely incontinent dog. A couple weeks ago she was sick and listless, diagnosed with diabetes. We let her go..She was nearly 15, and had lived 10 years, paralyzed but still eager to please us. She was a joy despite the challenges and we miss her every day. I encourage all dachsund people to read the facts about degenerative disease. Thank you for your commitment to educate owners, Jessica.
Hi Candyce. I am sorry for your loss. It sounds like you loved her a lot and gave her a great life!
Our Chica is on four to six weeks crate rest. Her new crate, her “safe house” arrived today. Your Blog couldn’t have been better timed, for me. New kennel, new bed, old blankies and toys,,,we can do this. We’ve had her in a soft, no pull harness for months prior, and she’s been attached to me via her leash since her diagnosis of suspected IVDD one week ago. We’re doing all we can to make her Safe House acceptable to her, and the relief for me is totally unexpected,,,and enormous. The crate’s on the sofa, next to me, stress is minimized. Hopefully, we’ve started early (although it took me a week to adapt) enough for her disc to build up the scar tissue you explained so well. Most encouraging, Chica can still sleep in bed with us. Yes, she’s wearing her harness and leash. No, she doesn’t jump down, so it looks like we can retain a semi normal semblance of life. My question is about the Lil Back Bracer shown. We’ve actually been considering getting her one, I saw it on facebook. Do you think it would help her, either now, or after her present bed rest period period is over? We’ve a Tweenie, around 12 lbs. What size would she wear? Thanks bunches!
Hi Jeannie. I’m glad you’ve been able to settle into a routine you will be able to stick with. That’s really important so you don’t give up and quit with the crate rest too soon. It can be quite an adjustment period in the beginning but then it just becomes a new normal for a while.
The Lil’ Back Bracer is a good option for some. Many vets will not recommend regular use because they claim that having that external support can weaken their spine-supporting muscles. However, I think it can be a great tool if used consciously at specific times. For example, my friend uses it for her pup when they go (light) hiking. She says the extra support and light compression seems to make her pup feel better. It can also be extra protection if you have another dog over at your house that wants to play. Twisting of the spine is what you want to avoid going forward and the brace could help keep Chica’s spine straight if she is running around the house with another dog. As for size, you’ll have to use your best judgement. A medium fits dogs that are 12-20 lbs and at least 13 inches long from shoulder blades to base of tail. At 12 lbs, Chica is on the bottom end of that range. If she is shorter than 13 inches long then you probably want the small. If she is 13 inches or longer, then you probably want the medium. I suggest taking another look at their site for sizing and contacting them directly if you still have questions.
I’m a proud owner of 2 wonderful minis, one 7 and the other 6 years old. Unfortunately the younger one is having back problems that we have been trying to treat with conservative methods (crate rest and pain meds, just completing a course of steroidd). It’s looking more and more like she may need surgery; however, I’m finding it very difficult to find clear and quality assistance with finding a practice. I took her to VCA in Lynnwood and was very turned off by both the astronomical quote (they quoted $6500-8000 for MRI and procedure) and their seeming overeagerness to operate. Unfortunately it seems like options are somewhat limited so I just thought I’d ask if anyone has personal recommendations they might share. If possible, id be very interested in non -surgical options/rehab providers. Thank you!
Hi Blake. I’m sorry you are going through this. I started responding to you the other day but then got distracted. Sorry.
That price range sounds like the standard for dog back surgery. I think you will be hard-pressed to find a vet that knows what they are doing and charges significantly less than that. That being said, Chester needed surgery when he was a puppy (that was over 10 years ago and not for a back issue). He has surgery at some place up in Everett. It was very “clinical” (instead of warm and friendly) but not a bad experience. He needed the same surgery again earlier this year and we went somewhere else. The cost was over 5 times what his first one was! I know veterinary costs have risen in the last 10 years. However, I would search for surgery clinics up in Everett and give a couple a call. I’m sorry but I can’t remember the name of the one we used. You might be able to find something lower cost up there though.
For information about non-surgical options, check out Dodgerslist.com and the K9BackPack.com. They are both really great resources on this issue. I know people have had success with prolonged crate rest (8+ weeks) and rehab like hydrotherapy, exercises, massage, acupuncture, and laser (unless you do what you can yourself, those therapies can cost you as much or more as surgery though).
I just recently had to euthanize my 4 year old doxie due to paralysis one day. Once the vet said that he needs emergency surgery and that there may be a 50/50 chance of him being able to walk again, I began to go hysterical. We were denied carecredit and did not have the $8000 for surgery. Reading over this, I will be more cautious and careful with his adopted sister. Now to mourn and spread the knowledge
Thank you for the informative article. I have a 6 month old mini I got after having to euthanize a 12 year old pug for paralysis related to disc disease. It was a long road with him and as much as I love my little girl I am fearful for her future. I have adapted stairs to ramps and we are avoiding jumping as much as possible. Do you have any information about using a back brace as a prevention measure to help with alignment? Most of what I am finding is using the brace after problems occur.
Hi Teresa. As I said in the article, almost all Dachshund back problems are caused but the IVDD disease. You won’t know if they have it until something happens. The last thing you want to do if you don’t know that they have it is weaken their back muscles. I am not a vet but would not recommend using any kind of back brace if your dog doesn’t have back issues already. Many vets I have talked to have a similar opinion though. The brace can make them use their back muscles less, which can make them slightly weaker. If you are worried, I highly recommend keeping your pup fit, at a healthy weight, and do some of these strengthening exercises https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-exercises-for-strengthening-balance-and-body-awareness/. That will go a long way to delay an episode, minimize the severity an episode, and make recovery easier if you dog has the genetic disease and ever has an back issue.
My baby Bailee is 11 years old and out of the blue is just now paralyzed from her hips down! I woke up yesterday 9/21/17 and called the vet immediately! She put her on medication to help her everything but after a one day I feel she has gotten worse! And as of today she won’t eat anything and she hasn’t gone to the bathroom in almost 12 hours!
So my questions are….
*Is she to old to get back to normal?
*When did everyone else see improvement?
*And is there anything I can do to help her?
I’m willing to try anything that doesn’t cost a fortune! I do not have money for surgery! But anything and everything else I’m willing to try!! Please help!!!!
Hi Kayla. I apologize for my delay in responding but we have been travelling a lot this month. I am very sorry to hear about Bailee. Could you please give me an update on how she is doing?
In response to your questions, I am not a vet but, based on what I know…. I don’t think she’s “too old” to get back to normal. Recovery depends primarily on how bad the condition was to begin with (how bad the cause was), treatment, rehab and a little luck. The timeline for improvement also varies. The minimum time period for strict crate rest (the #1 treatment for this condition) is 5 weeks. Many dogs “recover” well before that time period (act fine) but a 5-week rest period is necessary for proper scar tissue to form over the disk and “heal it”. Besides the crate rest, there is a lot you can do to help her. Please check out all of my articles on IVDD for more. You can find them here: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/inervertebral-disk-disease-ivdd-resources/
so grateful to have found this article, my wiener dog named blu suddenly was unable to walk so we took him to the vet got a concoction of medication including steroids, some stuff for nerves and pain med. My mom took him to the emergency vet later that night because he still hadn’t peed, she said that we might have to put him down but to me that just seemed so sudden. we have another check up in 5 days with the first vet, praying and hoping everything goes well and he is able to recover, he’s only 3 so i would hate to lose him so fast.
In regards to my last post, after hearing that the vet said putting blu down was a considerable option i still just don’t feel right about that, i was wondering what you would think about a chiropractor? there is a animal chiropractor here in portland and i read some good things.
Hi Jill. Unfortunately, putting Blu down is a possibility but, like you, I don’t think it’s the best option. Not everyone can afford back surgery for their pup but I know some who have made significant improvement with alternative treatments like chiropractor, cold laser therapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy/rehab exercises. My Gretel had an IVDD injury and surgery was not recommended because it was mild (she was not paralyzed) so that is the route we went. Just be aware that those treatments will likely need to be used for a significant length of time to be effective and the cost of ongoing alternative treatments can be just as expensive as the surgery itself. Also, if Blu hasn’t urinated on his own you may need to express his bladder manually for a while. You can find plenty of resources online to tell you how. Dodgerslist.com is a great IVDD resource.
This is a question more than a reply. My dog was thrown from my car seat(my fault 0 one week ago today Sunday 10 22 2017…she is 7 and weighs 8lbs. She is my 3rd Dachshund. Monday last took her to Vet. He gave me Metacam liquid one time per day for an arched back. Wednesday she could not bare weight on hind legs. She feels her feet and can wag tail. Take her back tomorrow as he has started treatment with a lazer and I thought it was heat not cold, Is the heat bad after one week..I just take it it is heat deep heat? Also I have some Prednisolone 5mg x2 daily. She is suppose to have 4 more lazer tx. Is this not good? I did get her bladder to let go with a warm rag and pressure as I did when I bottle fed her,,as a pup did’nt need pressure. She is eating little but drinking some, Thank you for an answer Jessica. Jon in Owensboro Ky she looks exactly like the dog on the “What did what with your weiner” her name is Pretty. 8 lbs and 7 years old and can’t keep her from jumping before the accident. Had to hit brakes she hit floor thank you so much.Half long hair and half short hair.
Hello, my 10 and a half yo dachshund has just had his 2nd surgery. The first was do to a paramedic stepping on him by accident in a trauma situation for a family member which required thoracic spine surgery, this was at 7 years old. He just developed neck pain which a myelogram showed a herniated disc in his C2 and C3 spine and C6 and C7 spine which we just finished surgery on 11/7/2017 at 11.30 am. It’s 11/8/2017 now @ 11.45 am and he is doing pretty good he is walking and moving fair at this time. He is on gabapentin, methocarbomol and a fentanyl patch as of this minute. He is my baby. I would give myself and the world for him no matter what in an instance. I’ve never known dachshunds to have 2 separate surgeries on their spine. That’s what I am curious about. None the less, I will do anything to make him pain free. I’m having thoughts as am I making things worse for him or am I doing the right thing and not being selfish over time with him. He is my world.
Hi Bjorn. It’s actually not super uncommon (unfortunately) for a Dachshund to have more than one back surgery. I run a Dachshund club of 500 people and I know a few of their dogs have had more than one spine surgery. I also walked a dog in college that needed two surgeries in 3 years. Whether it’s through surgery or conservative treatment, a problem disk(s) can heal but all of the other vertebrae in the spine can also rupture (after the others have healed). It’s unfortunate that your pup had an acute injury due to being stepped on and needing surgery but I certainly wouldn’t feel guilty for putting him through a second surgery later. I hope he heals up as good as new and continues with his happy life. Good luck.
Is IVDD something I can look for on their pedigree papers?
Hi Jamie. Unfortunately, no. There is no genetic test for IVDD so no breeder can absolutely certify that a dog does not have it. However, it’s my understanding that responsible breeders know the history of a dog’s Mom, Dad, and past relatives, so they may be able to say that there was no signs of IVDD for a certain number of generations back.
My pups are 7 1/2 yr. old Doxipoos, my boy is about 14 lbs, long body and has now had 2 bouts of spine issues. His sister was the runt and is only 9 lbs, half his size long and has not had any spinal issues. Ive taken him to the doggie chiro for a couple of adjustments, seems to be better and then one jump off the bed and he’s back to issues. I give him lots of massage, a dog aspirin for discomfort and tons of love, I don’t like seeing him hurting and he always looks sad. I was wondering if there was a brace that would be helpful for his aging spine so when he does get adjusted it would stay stable. Can’t bear the thought of him suffering or losing him:(. Any information would be welcome, I had no idea this could happen to our pups, we fell in love with them instantly, never thinking about breed issues… thank you ??
Hi Amy. There is a brace you can use – the Lil’ Back Bracer – but it’s not meant for constant use. It’s helpful for walks or play sessions where there is a chance of your pup twisting his spine. Veterinarians have differing opinions about using a brace but the main argument is that they think it can weaken core muscles which, in the end, puts your pup in a worse position than they were to begin with. I have friends that use the brace for their dog when out hiking and they said the light compression really helps with support and pain. The best things you can do is keep him at a healthy weight, do exercises to strengthen his core, and try to minimize twisting and jumping. However, as my article says, the cause is genetic so you can’t 100% prevent future issues.
Here is the exercises I do with Gretel (although not as regularly as I should): https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-exercises-for-strengthening-balance-and-body-awareness/
Thank you, I did order the brace and he is getting used to it. Today is the second day wearing it and I can tell he does feel better. He is responding well & seems to have some normal pep in his step which he hasn’t had for weeks!! He does twist a lot to scratch himself and unfortunately I cannot keep him from jumping on or off furniture or following me upstairs in a quick moment he is way faster than I am able to stop him. I want him to wear it for a bit to get him stable. He seems to be ok for a few days and then he is bad again, not sure what he is doing that is setting him back but i’m afraid the set backs will cause major issues which I’m trying to avoid. His appetite has been almost non existent and today he has eaten a little bit so I am hopeful that keeping his back stable is making him more comfortable, to walk, go potty or even when he is sleeping. I did take him out for a short walk yesterday and he was not interested, halfway down the street he totally froze, I had to pick him up and carry him home. Baby steps, but I will take it a little at a time. Thanks so much for the information!!
Hi Amy. I know it’s hard but now that he’s had an issue, you MUST keep him from jumping off the furniture (stairs are a little less crucial – some vets think doing stairs can strengthen their core). I place pillows on most of our chairs so Gretel can’t get up there in the first place. We have our couch totally fenced in with dog gates except for the ramp them can use to get on/off it. It’s inconvenient for us but Gretel’s health is more important to me than the inconvenience. The stairs and jumping is probably what is setting him back.
I’m glad the back brace is helping. The light compression can feel nice.
Hi Jessica – I came across your blog and this post while researching disc/nerve damage in dachshunds. My 10 year old, Mr Weenie recently underwent a disc issue that resulted in immediate pain for him and immediate paralysis in his front right paw. I took him to the vet and was given options to do an MRI or steroids/medical pain management while healing. I chose the medical management due to the cost and will return back for a follow up in 2 weeks. He will also be crate rested for 6 weeks. Have you had any experience with a front paw/leg paralysis? I’m hoping for a good recovery after everything is said and done. He has had other back issues in the past but not that have affected his front leg. Any advice is very much appreciated! Your article was very beneficial, thank you for taking the time to put it together!
Hi Ashley. Sorry you and Mr. Weenie are going through this. I don’t have personal experience with this but have hear various stories through the people in my Dachshund club. It’s my understanding that the disk issue is in the neck of the paralysis is in the front paws. Is that what your vet said? I hope he has a complete recovery. After, make sure you only ever walk him using a harness because a collar can re-injure his neck. As with all dogs with IVDD, his jumping should be minimized. Otherwise, as far as I know, treatment and rehab is the same for the neck as the back (crate rest, meds, complimentary treatments like acupuncture and cold laser, etc.). I will say that you should always keep an eye on his breathing from now on. Disk issues in the neck can affect lungs so take him to the vet if he seems in pain and his breathing is more labored (even if his front legs seem fine). Wishing you guys the best!
Thank you for your reply and your advice regarding his breathing. I was not aware of that issue even after everything I have researched. I will definitely be paying close attention to that, as well as switching him to a harness once he is recovered and able to fully be walked again. I will say that he is showing some progress after only 8 days since the initial injury. Hoping for further progress over the next several weeks. The vet thinks he should get good mobility back in his paw by the end of the 6-8 weeks, maybe not 100% though . He is able to stand again while going potty so that is good news! Thanks again!
Well, my experience is definitely anecdotal but well over 50% of the people who told me about their Dachshund’s neck issues mentioned the breathing. I’m glad it looks like he’s on the mend!
I have a question: our 4 year old teenie weenie stopped using her back legs, we didn’t get her to the vet for approximately 4 days. The vet informed us that she was out of that window for surgery to be of ANY help, and we got the necessary medications and started her on them. Is that too long of a time for surgery, or do you think there is ANY chance of her regaining anything with the meds??
Hi Jaimie. I do apologize for not replying sooner. I was out of town and then I wanted to finish an article I thought might help you. You can read it here: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/help-my-dachshund-suddenly-cant-walk-advice/
From what I understand about surgery, time is of the essence. It’s very important that a dog get it right away if they need it. As far as 4 days being some kind of cutoff point, I can’t say. That certainly doesn’t sound unreasonable though.
As you’ll read in the article I linked to, crate rest and meds is a very common treatment. It’s very important that you do the 5-8 weeks of strict crate rest tough in order for your pup to have the chance of recovering fully. Without that, she might not recover at all or will continue to have an issue with that same disk for the rest of her life. But don’t lose hope! I know several dogs that may nave needed it but weren’t able to get surgery for one reason or another. They made a full, or almost full, recovery with crate rest and meds alone (the alternative treatments I list in my article are a huge help too).
This may help someone out there!
We just lost our beloved piebald to Degenerative myelopathy. He was 10 and in seemingly perfect health. He was still acting completely normal; brisk, running and playing with no signs of aging. We could not have been more happy and satisfied with a dachshund! And then out of nowhere he began symptoms [which we were ignorant of] and in 72 hours reached full rear paralysis. Considering the options of non-guarantee-able and very expensive surgery, and deciding not to put him through a difficult quality of life, we elected to put him down. This has rocked our world, especially my wife. Our little guy was her soul and shadow. They were inseparable! We are both grieving and are telling ourselves that we will ‘never’ get another dog. We are over 60. He was our third dachshund. We love the breed.
Jessica, before considering another dachshund are there any assurances that this will not happen again? Our next door neighbor [who had two longhairs] just informed us that they had knowledge of this disease prior to the purchase of their dogs and that the breeder was able to check their up line ancestors and offer assurances that their dog’s ancestors were free from this disease. Are you familiar with this procedure? Does this problem seem to be more prevalent in dachshunds as compared with other breeds? Your article was a tremendous help! Very appreciated!
Thanks for your love for these dogs, and any advice you can give us will be very helpful. God bless you and your work.
Hi Randall. I’m so sorry for you and your wife. It’s tragic how fast spinal issues can come on in Dachshunds. Thankfully, it sound like yours had a long, good life without spinal complications prior (caused by IVDD).
Unfortunately, no, it’s not possible to assure it won’t happen again. There is no TEST for IVDD. There has been a ray of possibility through scientific research at UC Davis but it’s still in it’s early stages. The best “guarantee” you can hope for is like your neighbor described – get a puppy from a breeder that knows the history of several prior generations. They can say something like, “there have been no IVDD issues 5 generations back.” Still, I would take that with a grain of salt because the only evidence they have is anecdotal. Like hip dysplasia in German Shepherd, it’s just something you have to know is common in the breed and take a chance.
To answer your last question, yes, IVDD is more prevalent in Dachshund than other breeds. IVDD afflicts about 25% of Dachshunds. There are a lot of other breeds that can get it but it’s not as common. From what I’ve heard, I think the second most affected breed is the French Bulldog. Don’t quote me on that though.
Thank you that was a very interesting read. I have been researching this a lot as I want to get a Miniature Dachshund but I’m not sure whether to or not because I’m so worried about IVDD. Still not sure what to do as I really want one.
Almost every dog breed has genetic diseases/ailments that they are known for like hip dysplasia, luxating patella, etc. It’s important to know what he breed you want is prone to so you know how to recognize it and how you’ll have to address it if it happens. I’ve not owned any other breed of dog besides Dachshunds but it does seem that IVDD may happen more to them than the bad things to other breeds of dog. I don’t know though. If you haven’t already, I would discuss this topic with your vet. They can probably provide some helpful insight and perspective. Also, you can hope to lessen the chance of IVDD occurring in your Dachshund by getting one from a very responsible breeder (they will be able to tell you how many generations back there were no back problems). Good luck on your search!
Thank you for posting this article. I have 3 dogs, and one of them is an 11yo dachshund “Bongo”. He had a herniated disc on the neck two years ago. He wasn’t able to lift up his head. The surgery was successful and he fully recovered from that. A week ago, he started hiding behind a chair and going to a corner and would yelp when touching his back left side. We took him to the same vet that performed his first surgery and she recommended this time for him to be treated with medication for 2 weeks and to be crated. He hates being crated and now I realize that I should have done this since he was a puppy so crating would be easier. Also the one time I crated him two years ago, neighbours complained from his non stop barking while I was at work. After two days of medications, he seems to be a bit better, but I understand this is a long process and there is still a chance he may need surgery if medication doesn’t work out. I’m not really concerned about having to spend money on this as luckily I have paid for pet insurance for over 7 years now and they have covered 90% of all expenses.
I strongly recommend all Dachshunds owners to consider getting pet insurance. It was the best decision I made for him, otherwise I would have not been able to afford the $10K surgery he had two years ago.
Hi Diego. I’m so sorry you and Bongo are going through this again. Yes, it is easier to do the full course of crate rest when they are already used to being in a crate. That’s why I’m a huge proponent of crate training. And also of pet insurance! Good thin you had it.
Hello?l! This article is very helpful… I recently brought home a chiweenie and she is about 6 months old. I feel horrible because today she had an “injury” to her back. This was poor judgement in my part, but I had her in a dog friendly store in a shopping cart. It was one of this mini carts with a shallow top basket and a bottoms basket. I had her in the smaller basket up top so she would stay closer to me but just decided to leap out of the cart, flipped and landed on her back onto tile floor from about 3-4 feet high! She’s acting fine, I just am wondering if there are things I should look out for? Or if she did injury her spine/discs, wouldn’t I notice already? She doesn’t seem to be in any pain… so does that necissarily mean she is fine? She is about 6 pounds if that help.
Excellent article! I’m a veterinarian with a very active dachshund who recovered from an IVDD injury. One VERY important thing I tell all dachshund clients with puppies – get them crate-trained NOW. The IVDD treatment ‘failures’ (who progressed to complete paralysis or became so painful their owners elected to euthanize) are usually ones who have never been in a crate before and either panic and thrash around or cry so their owners let them out.
I agree 1000%. Anecdotally, that’s the same observation I have made. I’m glad to hear that you can confirm/agree.
My dog is a 14lb Dachshund who was seemingly in his prime. He caught a bought of pancreatitis and while recovering from that was put on pain meds and ended up injuring his back.
Admittedly, before this we had no idea. He loves to run, jump and play and he would routinely jump off the bed etc.
Well, after getting past the first illness, we noticed his back leg wobbling, then both legs and finally dragging the rear legs mostly. He was a 3.5 to 4 on the scale according to the vet (it’s 1-4). Our original vet, while nice people, didn’t advise us properly on what was happening, they just looked worried and said “be careful” without any real information. So we walked him a little and basically carried him around without knowing this was hurting the dog further.
We ended up seeing a specialist who said absent surgery to try “strict crate rest”. So we picked up an expandable cage at walmart and setup a small area in the living room for him. No walks except to use the bathroom and a laser treatment a couple times a week. After a month, he began to walk again, so everyone was happy about that.
Now, it’s been two months since he’s started walking on his own again, but still looks to be about a 2 as he holds his weight and walks, but can’t get up stairs and still has a drunken walk. When he attempts to run, he bunny hops mostly. Some days he has moments where he trots a few feet like his old self.
We’re still keeping him in the cage most of the day, which he’s used to and is still part of the family. He seems a bit bow legged which I hope will also have a chance of going away.
All this happened because I gave the little guy a fatty piece of lamb one night that set everything into motion. Completely my fault, but I sure wish vets would take the time to educate you on your breed while making small talk during routine exams.
So if you’re going through this yourself to whatever extent, I’d recommend crate rest immediately for a few weeks. Also don’t give up hope and give it a little time. I’ve heard people mention it could be 6-12 months for some to recover fully.
Hi Aj. What he has sounds like classic IVDD. In all of the research I’ve done, I’ve never heard of pancreatitis worsening the disease. It’s definitely possible though. If you or your vet have any research on that, I’d love to read it.
I’m sorry you guys are going through this.
why are dachshund back so fragile
Hi Grace. That’s actually what this whole article is about. Sorry if it wasn’t clear. Primarily, a Dachshund’s back is fragile when they have Intervertebral Dis Disease (IVDD), which is a genetic disease. Dachshunds who don’t have the disease, don’t have spines that are as fragile, generally. However, the fact that a Dachshund’s spine is longer than it is for most dogs of a similar size/weight can play into it a little too. The problem is primarily IVDD though.
We just lost our Sasha due health reasons, a lot of dachshunds have Cushing and you tell the vet not to give steroids they do anyway.
She after yelping when you pick her up, I always two hand method one under chest other between rear legs.
Was told to get rid of the step ramps that really hurts more than help!
So I bought a wired open shelving like you see in closets, had it cut about 12 inches back and plastic tied together that allowed the top to lay flat under mattress or top of sofa, sewing fabric backing to the center and a sofa type heavy cloth around it.
One for the bedroom and one for the sofa!
These were “her” ramps instead of jumping off or always wanting up, she did what she wanted.
Cost very little, but what it did for her Priceless!!
What a great tip! I definitely recommend a ramp over doggie stairs. They are just so small and unstable.
Thanks so much for all the great info. Have you found any information about alternative treatments for spinal calcification? Max is a 2 year old tweenie. Through an exam that finally diagnosed him with cystine chrystals in his bladder, the vet noted he already has significant spinal calcification. I am trying to be proactive rather than reactive but have not had much success. Any suggestions would be great!
Hi Holly. I don’t have specific experience with only that issue (vs. IVDD as a whole) but I would talk to a holistic veterinarian if you can. I suspect that cold laser and/or acupuncture might help.
Our now 11 year old (turned 11 on 2/26) Doxie, Lucky, started showing signs of urinary incontinence a few months ago. We took him to the vet, they did xrays and blood work, both looked good, even though we left him there, they couldn’t get a urine sample. They put him on an antibiotic in case he had an infection. His symptoms only worsened and we returned to the doctor a month later with ataxia and soreness of his back, base of tell, yelping when moved around. No reflexes in back legs. The vet took another look at xray but couldn’t really tell anything is wrong with his back, however this xray was looking at his bladder. A urine sample was taken this time and it was clear. Due to finances, we went with conservative measures, and she gave us a NSAID (2x day) and put him on crate rest. She didn’t do another xray because she said the treatment would be the same.The crate rest hasn’t worked out for us because of him crying…no one can sleep. He has gotten even worse. Now he is peeing when he is laying and sitting. My husband who is Lucky’s #1 fan is thinking there is no recovering from this. I am just wondering if we get another round of med or a shot…and did the crate rest successfully how likely is he to recover after going this far down hill. We cannot afford neurological eval or surgery. Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.
Hi JoEllen. I’m sorry you guys are going through this. While all dogs are different, there is an excellent chance of full recover IF you can do the strict crate rest (basically, as immobile as possible at all times) for as long as he needs (some dogs also need you go do rehab exercises with them once they are improving – you can find videos on YouTube). Five weeks is the minimum and some dogs need longer than that. We did 10 weeks with Gretel – mostly by choice to be safe – but I know some that have had to do it for 6 months. I would definitely talk to your vet about this. It’s imperative that he say on crate rest so ask the vet for a sedative to help keep him calm. We also used CBD oil and VetriScience Composure chews to help keep Gretel relaxed when needed. He may also be in need of more steroids and/or pain meds to aid in his recovery. Since you say the crate rest hasn’t been working for you, I assume you mean you haven’t been doing it and allowing him mostly normal activity (walking around a lot, etc.). It could simply be the lack of recovery time that is causing him to get worse or, sadly, he may just be one of those dogs that keeps degenerating. Again, your vet will be able to help you figure out which it is. Anyway, my thoughts are with you guys. Dealing with this can be challenging, both mentally and physically.
We found out my doxie’s spine is narrowing by accident when the VET took a x-ray of his heart (nothings wrong with his heart THANK GOD!). Is there anyway of trying to help him with this problem? He’s only a year old and doesn’t seem to be in any pain. The doctor recommended we give him Cosequin which we have been giving to him and our other dachshund who is 2 years old. I just don’t want him to be in any pain. We walk them regularly and use stairs for our bed. He is a little chunky for a mini (15 lbs) and trying to help him shed a few pounds.
Hi Cherrelle. Giving him a joint supplement is great and getting his weight down is very important. Continued walks are very important to help with that but also to keep the muscles that support his back strong. Unfortunately, if the issue is caused by IVDD, you may not be able to stop the disease from progressing. Some things that helped manage my dog’s back pain were acupuncture, cold laser treatments, and CBD. I ended up buying a cold laser I can use and home when I think she might be a bit uncomfortable (it reduces inflammation). Good luck.
Hi Jessica . I found your article while I was searching back problems in dashunds . I have a 3 year old (nacho) who has developed the problem.i noticed all the signs as mentioned not knowing at the time what I was faced with . I did get him into my vet . They suggested a 48 hour treatment of Domoso intervisly. Nacho is at home now on crate rest with steroids and a pain med . I am glad I read your article it gives great hope for recovery if followed thank you for sharing your information . I am going for a second opinion right away just because I’m not confident in the young vets suggestions .
Hi Calvin. I’m sorry you and Nacho are going through this. I’m so glad you recognized the signs and were able to get treatment for him right away. A second opinion can always be helpful but it sounds like you are doing all of the right things so far.
I think we need some help. I have a 7 years old sweet long haired girl named Candy. Candy is about 14 pounds. We adopted her when she was 2 years old. Until last Wednesday Candy was a happy, bossy and active baby. On Wednesday she started to act strange – did not want to follow me climbing the stairs to the second floor, stopped wanting to go for a usual walk. We took her to the vet. She checked her for paralysis and Candy seemed not have any symptoms. She put her on muscle relaxants and pain killers which seemed to work . The vet also mentioned the restrictive movements but not the crate rest. So Candy continued her usual routine and yesterday she was trying to jump up the sofa and started crying very loudly for the first time. So this morning I gave her her medication and put her on the crate rest regiment. I read about it in your article. I am going to see another vet tonight who is more familiar with this breed. Very worried. Thank you for your articles.
Hi Olga. I hope this new vet can help you more. This definitely sounds like IVDD but it IS possible it’s just a severely strained muscle or tendon. Mild cases of IVDD only result in reduced pain sensation in the feed, not necessarily “paralysis”. Either way, the medicine and crate restriction is among the best treatment. Let me know what you find out.
I have just read most of the post ….we are at the vet and our eight-year-old Rudy is dragging his back legs. You have a great blog/post that is very informative we did not know about IVDD and we are hoping for the best. I have thought that we might have injured him by tripping over him but now I see that the symptoms have been there for quite some time.
Hi Steven. I’m sorry you and your Rudy are having to deal with IVDD. Definitely don’t beat yourself up as it’s likely nothing you did or didn’t do. If you haven’t already, you might also want to check out Dodgerslist.com as they are a great resource for IVDD. I hope Rudy’s condition isn’t too bad that that he recovers quickly with crate rest and/or surgery.
My little guy is starting to have back problems and I am devastated to the point I am having pretty bad anxiety for the first time in my life. I had asked the ER doctor if I should buy a brace for his back and she said it would not help. However, I am seeing reviews where people are saying it does help. Are there any studies on this? If he back is already sore would it cause more irritation?
Hi Jenny. There are not studies on back braces for dogs as far as I know, just anecdotal evidence from veterinarians and pet owners. I have friends who use a back brace for their dogs and think it could be a good option AFTER a dog is recovered from a back injury. I have one friend who uses it on her senior dog because the slight compression it offers seems to help her back feel better when she walks. I asked our rehab vet about the brace when Gretel hurt her back and she didn’t have a strong option one way or another. Except: She said that, if used before a dog is healed and has regained their own strength, it can cause the supporting muscles to be “lazy” and that a brace could help prevent another injury if worn when a dog is playing rough or otherwise at risk of severely twisting their spine.
I’m very thankful to you for writing this. My 11 year old doxie experienced his first flare up of IVDD. Until I read your article I thought it was something I had done, allowing him to go up stairs etc.,. We ordered him a wheelchair last week when things were looking most bleak. Within the week he regained most of his control in the right hind leg. His left side was more affected but we are seeing great improvement in his left now as well. The Lil’ back bracer is on it’s way to me, hopefully he can regain more mobility and his independence. As I’m sure you know, doxie’s want to do everything themselves. Jack hates being picked up and tries to crocodile death roll in your arms when you try. Thank you again for easing my worries and fears that I had somehow been negligent and caused my poor boys injury and pain. Take care!!!
I’m sorry you guys are going through this but I’m glad things are improving and that I was able to help.
Hi- I have a 7 year old Dixie. She occasionally has brief period (5-10 min) where she experiences weakness and loss of control of her back legs. She is wobbly and clearly having difficulty but then she is fine and walking normally. She is not in pain, or doesn’t seem to be during the episode. I am able to rub her back and her legs and she doesn’t seem to be feeling pain. Definitely seems neurological but I am not able to find anything on the internet so far outside of DM and IVDD. Could this be early stages?
Hi Lisa. Yes, it could be early stages of IVDD. It’s good you are asking questions about it because too many people ignore, or shrug off, the signs until it’s too late. I would definitely take your pup to the vet to diagnose or rule out IVDD.
My standard dachshund Oscar turns 15 this Spring. He’s really slowed down a lot, I don’t think he can hear or see all that well anymore. Now he’s not paralyzed, but he’s really having trouble walking, like over the past couple months has gotten steadily worse, and over the past 2-3 weeks has become incontinent. I took him to the vet today, before running tests doc asked me hypothetically if he found a back problem would surgery be something I would consider, so doc would know whether to refer to a specialist or not. X-rays showed compression in 4 places, Doc said ideally in a situation like this Oscar would be a candidate for surgery, but he understood that’s not in the cards, so Oscar’s getting steroids and painkillers, and kennel rest for a week or so. I feel terrible about not getting him surgery, but at $5-10,000, for a half-blind, half-deaf 15 year old dog who could die on the table, or 3 months, 6 months, a year after, when I’m also putting a child through college and have another one coming up (and spent $2,300 on Oscar this summer for anaphyactic shock), I just can’t swing it. Am I as terrible as I feel?
No, you are not. I love my dogs and would almost do anything for them. However, I’m a logical person and there is a limit to everything. First, many dogs recover with crate rest alone even when surgery was recommended. So it’s not like you aren’t doing what he needs. I will also add, that surgery is not always 100% effective so there is that. Not to be harsh, but at 15 it’s reasonable to weight the amount of time he may still be with you against the “investment”. Personally, I would not give my 15 year old dog, that may experience significant complications with anesthesia, a $10,000 surgery to keep him with me another couple of years. I just can’t afford that and, given his age, I would have to be prepared for additional health issues to pop up (and need to treat those) as he aged.
Thank you very much for being such a great resource. I have a 3 year old chihuahua doxie mix. He already has had 2 instances of back pain treated with pain reliever and steroids. The emergency vet believes he has ivdd and that it probably will get worse since he is so young. But your information gives me hope. I was wondering if it would hurt him if I take him for a long walk(like a mile). He is a lot better than what he was but I don’t think he’s as good as he was since this last incident. His name is Clyde and he is very cute!
Hi Christine. If it’s been more than 5 weeks since his last incident (and hopefully he was on crate rest for that), it should be ok to start walking him again. A mile would probably be ok to start with as long as you went at his pace and turned back if he was having difficulty. I’m no vet though, and don’t know Clyde’s current health, so you may want to ask yours.
HI, just wondering if you recommend the dog back braces, if those help or not? My Lula has a dachshund body but is a mix. Thanks!
I have used it. I used it for Gretel after she had her back injury, right after she got done with crate rest, if she was doing something excitable like playing. Something that I thought might twist her spine and re-injure her. My friend uses it with her old dog that has IVDD and the compression helps her mobility. However, Gretel’s rehab veterinarian did say it’s not something you want to use all the time because a dog’s muscles can be a lazy when its on. In other words, it does its job in offering support but then your dog doesn’t have to strengthen its muscles just support itself. She recommended these exercises to strengthen Gretel’s back. https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ivdd-recovery-exercises-for-strengthening-balance-and-body-awareness/
I was very young when I got my very first Dachshund Lola. She ended up developing IVDD and had to be put down at the age of four. What I know now could possibly have saved her. The thing that happened with her is one day she just got very bloated she hadn’t had any falls or anything suspect to injury. We lived in a very rural area and I figured she probably just ate a bug or something. The next morning she was completely paralyzed on her bottom half. Because I was only about 13 at the time and had absolutely NO knowledge of IVDD, we took her to the vet and all he did was give her steroids and keep her overnight. He ended up releasing her to us the next day without much instruction. She was completely unable to regulate her bladder. She started bleeding from her rear uncontrollably, As we later found out it’s due to the steroids she was given. She was getting worse and we were clueless as what to do. 3days later we took her to a better well-known vet in the city. (Again clueless to IVDD and the severity and the significance of every second counts) They were not hopeful of her making a recovery they let us know we could get her surgery for $3000 (not including medications) but there would only be a 5% chance that she would ever walk again.
Being that I was a child and none of my family had ever owned a Dachshund we were lost! Because she couldn’t regulate her bladder they recommended that she get a catheter for the rest of her life. To us this was shocking. Being that I was 13 I felt that that was not a Life that would have been fitting for her in our particular situation. I made so many mistakes and If I would’ve known what I know now I could’ve saved her I could’ve identified the bloating and the uncomfort as IVDD. Make sure if you ever suspect your dog has an IVDD injury take them to the best that you possibly can. That was one of my biggest mistakes and even if you can’t afford treatment much like this blog says there are more options don’t forget. I have since gotten another Dachshund and I am 24 i love her so much but owning a dachshund it really is like roulette. I worry for her everyday she’s five now. Please if anything learn from my many many mistakes. Every minute counts and always ALWAYS take them to the best especially in a IVDD situation!
Thanks for sharing your story Liz. I have several regrets with my first Dachshund because I didn’t know better but I like to think he came into my life to teach me. His being here has made my the lives of by other Dachshunds exponentially better.
I think you can prevent back problems. With a right diet, muscle exercises, stretching..
Stretching is the most important thing, because if a dog has a long back, then back muscles gets easily too tight.
I have done a lot of research on this topic and talked with many veterinarians. As this article says, if your dog has Intervertebral Disk Disease, and genetic disease, you cannot 100% prevent a back issue from occurring. Definitely, the things you mention can reduce the frequency and severity though.
Hi, I just wanted to point out that there is a test for CDDY now from UC Davis:
The same link also states that CDDY is present in approximately a 97.9% of dachshunds. I was wondering if anyone was aware of breeders that are focused on reducing the presence of CDDY?
The key here is that there is no “reliable” test for IVDD in Dachshunds. I’m aware of that study and many others. But as you stated, CDDY is present in approximately a 97.9% of Dachshunds (because it is related to the dwarfism gene all Dachshunds have). However, 97% of the Dachshunds don’t develop IVDD (only about 25% do). Therefore, the presence of CCDY not a good indicator in Dachshunds. I’m in some breeder forums and know that many were so hopeful with this test and submitted blood samples to test their Dachshunds… only to be disappointed that the results were basically useless. There are strict breeding programs in several European countries that screen Dachshunds for breeding based on back x-rays and number of calcifications present (assessed by highly trained professionals, not regular veterinarians). I don’t know why we don’t do that in the US. Here, the best you can ask for is that a breeder is aware of the family tree several generations back and can attest that none of them had back issues.
Your article on IVDD is an excellent overview. One of my doxies needed surgery twice. Unfortunately, mobility was not restored with the second surgery. Nevertheless, our little girl still had a great life until she died four years later of a stroke.
My comment comes from a hard and tragic lesson learned. Post-op crate rest should be balanced with a certain amount of exercise immediately following surgery (within the first week) or there is the risk that muscles will heal in their constricted position, which can interfere or even prevent a return to full mobility as much as the IVDD itself.
This was the tragedy my doxie suffered when a top neurosurgeon turned her care over to his inexperienced associate. After six weeks and still no sign of recovery, this associate surgeon continued to prescribe total crate rest, telling me that some dogs take longer to heal than others. That is when I sought another opinion, and got the distressing news from a saddened and angered surgeon over “yet another” dog she said was failed by inadequate post-op advice/care. By then, my dog’s prognosis was poor, which was confirmed by the state veterinary college and three other rehab specialists.
Of course, all such exercise needs to be designed and supervised by the dog’s medical team. But that team should also include a practitioner trained and experienced in post-op rehab. Any dachshund owner who finds this missing in her dog’s recovery program should be wary.
I hope this may spare other dachshund owners the heartache and distress we went through.
Hi Rae. I’m sorry about what happened to your pup. We worked with a rehab vet after Gretel’s disk rupture. She’s one of the best in the country. She did not advise us to do any activity the first two weeks but, thankfully, she was aware of the new research that total “bed rest” for a prolonged period can be harmful as muscles can atrophy. Movement and stretching was also advised to keep muscles pliable. We never encountered the issues you did, perhaps because of the instructions you were given, so thanks for sharing your experience to comfirm that soemthing like that is a possibility.
I really like this! I have 3 weenie dogs. 2 miniature, and 1 standard! They are very cute. Their names are, Wrangler (the standard AKA retarded one), Bella (the needy one), And baby Girl (the lazy one). Do the back problems happen to any kind or just one? Thank you for the important info. thank you!
Hi Regan. Back issues and IVDD are common in all Dachshunds regardless of size. I have heard some people speculate that it happens less with standard Dachshunds but that is not necessarily true. I think it may seem that way because standard Dahcshunds are less common in general.