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8 Common Dachshund Health Issues

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Last Updated: July 17, 2024 | 14 min read | Leave a Comment

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Dachshund at the vet.

Dachshunds are iconic for their unmistakable hotdog-like Wiener body, quirky personality, and sweet (but seriously sassy nature.) They are one of the favorite breeds in the U.S. The sad answer is yes if you’re wondering whether Dachshunds have health issues. Their long and low backs make them prone to spinal problems, and their inquisitive nature leads them into a lot of trouble. As a Doxie owner, I know this all too well!

I share the most common Wiener dog health issues and the symptoms to watch out for. This way, you can get veterinary care as early as possible and start treatment to get them back to their healthy and spunky self. I also show you why it is so important to consider pet insurance for your canine companion. So, let’s dig deeper into the Wiener dog’s health issues.

From The Veterinarian

I spoke with Dr. Rebecca MacMillan, BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS, to learn more about Dachshund health issues from an expert who has seen a wide range of Doxie patients.

Dachshunds are a popular breed, but they are sadly prone to health issues. The most common one that I see in the clinic is spinal problems. Dachshunds have chondrodystrophy, a genetic abnormality that gives them their desirable short legs. However, this abnormality also leads to other issues, such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

The intervertebral discs are sponge-like cushions that sit between the bones in the spine, which allow smooth movement. Dogs with chondrodystrophy are much more prone to experience problems with these discs. They become harder and more fragile, making them more likely to ‘slip.’

When a slipped disc occurs, it can press on the nerves within the spinal cord, leading to problems such as pain, loss of sensation in the limbs, complete paralysis, and incontinence. This can occur suddenly and seemingly without warning. Owners may notice problems with their dog, like wobbliness, weakness, struggling to get up, dragging their feet, or complete paralysis. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition but may include painkillers such as anti-inflammatories, strict rest for several weeks, and physiotherapy. Some dogs could even require spinal surgery, a major operation usually carried out at a specialist hospital. I have certainly had to refer patients in the past to specialist veterinary centers for advanced diagnostic imaging (MRI scans) and surgery.

Due to their chondrodystrophy, Dachshunds are also prone to issues like angular limb deformities (legs that are at abnormal angles, stopping the toes from pointing forward). This can lead to abnormal wear and tear on nearby joints. Elbow dysplasia, which is an abnormal development of the elbow joint, affects many of these dogs too. These dogs can suffer from painful forelimb lameness, requiring pain relief and possibly surgical intervention.

To keep your Dachshund healthy it is very important to watch their weight. These little dogs seem more prone to obesity compared to many other breeds. Extra weight on an already compromised spine will only increase their chances of problems, so take care to keep your dog at a healthy weight. If you are unsure whether your dog is the correct weight or want to know how to assess your dog’s body condition score, then speak with your vet for advice. It is also worth speaking to your vet about the best neutering timings for your pet. Studies have now shown that neutering your Dachshund too early (e.g., before 12 months of age) can increase their chances of joint and spinal issues.

Dr. Rebecca MacMillan BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS, Veterinarian

8 Dachshund Health Problems

Veterinarian doctor with stethoscope and vet tech examining dachshund dog at vet clinic

Unfortunately, no matter if you have a miniature or a standard, Dachshunds have several health problems to consider. Thankfully, they are not predisposed to as many health issues compared to some other dog breeds, like the adorable Bulldog. When you properly care for your Doxie, they’re a relatively healthy dog breed. However, Doxies can cost you thousands in veterinary bills if they suffer from health problems. So, if you’re a Doxie owner like me or about to become one, you must know about the most common Dachshund health issues.

1. Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) occurs when the fibrocartilaginous cushions between the vertebrae degenerate, diminishing their movement and shock-absorbing capacity. This can lead to disc herniation and spinal cord compression, which can lead to extreme pain and paralysis. IVDD affects Dachshunds more than any other breed, and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons estimates that they account for 40% to 75% of all IVDD cases.

The Doxie’s long and low frame makes them far more susceptible to spinal and disc injury. Jumping from the couch might not seem like a big deal, but to your Doxie’s back, over time, it can lead to the onset of IVDD. This is why I encourage Doxie owners to invest in dog ramps and take other precautions to prevent IVDD. Breeders must also test their dogs as it can predict the risks of developing disc problems and help minimize affected litters.

Symptoms

  • Back and/or neck pain
  • Weak legs
  • Difficulty standing
  • Dragging feet
  • Being unsteady
  • Tripping or falling regularly
  • Incontinence
  • Irritation
  • Paralysis

Diagnosis & Treatment

Most dogs are diagnosed between 3 and 6 years of age, and an MRI scan is the most effective way to diagnose IVDD. In some mild cases, medication, such as muscle relaxants and pain relief, might be suggested with activity restriction. However, in most IVDD cases, surgery is eventually required. There is no cure for IVDD, so if your vet recommends surgery, don’t wait, as the spinal cord will continue to degenerate until it’s too late. IVDD surgery and recovery are intensive and can take months. Bone and disc material are removed to take pressure off the spinal cord. Crate rest and strict exercise control are crucial while they heal. Watch this video showing a Dachshund’s journey with IVDD.

My Experience With IVDD In Dachshunds

I dog-sat a senior Doxie for two weeks, and she was recovering from spinal surgery as a result of IVDD. Despite being in the “recovery” phase, she was determined to jump onto and off everything and disregarded the ramps her owners purchased. It was hard work taking care of her because she literally had no fear, and she couldn’t be left to wander around the flat. Her flat was on the fourth floor, and I had to carry her in a special Doxie carry bag up and down the stairs.

I could only take her on short walks, no longer than 15 minutes at a time. I only took care of her for two weeks, but it was a tricky house sit, and I felt the pressure to take care of her considering her post-op recovery. It took several months after that before she returned to her usual self, and her owner said it was an intense few months with regular accupuncture and hydrotherapy sessions.

Emma Braby, Doxie Mom & Writer For Canine Journal

2. Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects humans, but did you know that it can also affect dogs and other animals? Sadly, diabetes is incurable, but it is relatively simple to manage. However, it can be very costly, too. Diabetes mellitus, also known as “sugar diabetes,” is the most common type of diabetes seen in dogs, and Dachshunds are more at risk of developing it, along with other small dog breeds. It is a metabolism disorder that affects how the body converts food to energy. Not only is it a serious health condition, but it also leads to a variety of secondary health concerns, such as cataracts, enlarged liver, kidney failure, life-threatening ketoacidosis, and more.

Symptoms

  • Excessive thirst
  • Increase in urination
  • Weight loss
  • Change in appetite
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Recurring infections
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis usually occurs between 7 and 10 years old. Your vet can diagnose diabetes with simple testing for excessive glucose in the blood and urine. Blood tests can detect high liver enzymes and electrolyte imbalances, also indicating diabetes. It’s important to diagnose diabetes as soon as possible to prevent secondary health concerns from developing and help your Doxie to lead a normal life. Treatment usually consists of daily insulin injections, consistent and moderate exercise, and a change in diet.

3. Vision Disorders

There are many vision disorders in dogs, and the most common eye problems in Dachshunds include corneal disease, distichiasis, persistent pupillary membrane (PPM), glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and cataracts. Eye disorders can lead to significant discomfort and pain and sometimes vision loss.

Specific vision problems are more common in Dachshunds with a dapple or white patterned coat, which is essentially merle. Double merles, which are dogs born with two copies of the merle gene, are most at risk of eye disorders and vision and hearing problems. Breeders should never breed two dapple Doxies, and genetic testing can help breeders avoid the most severe issues. Learn more about Dachshund coat colors and how their color can affect their health.

Symptoms

  • Redness in the eye
  • Swollen eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Pawing at their eyes
  • Excessive tears or discharge
  • Extreme dryness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Hesitant behavior
  • Startling easy
  • Bumping into objects

Diagnosis & Treatment

It’s tricky to say when vision disorders are diagnosed in Dachshunds because the range of disorders is wide. Diagnosis can occur within months to the last few years of life. A vet must examine your Doxie to determine their eye disorder. Depending on the disorder, treatment varies, too. Some can be treated with eye drops and antibiotics, whereas some require eye surgery.

4. Patella Luxation

A luxating patella is also known as a trick or floating knee. It is a developmental condition where the kneecap develops abnormally and dislocates or moves out of its usual location. The kneecap can shift toward the inside of the leg, which is known as medial luxation, or toward the outside of the leg, lateral luxation. Although a traumatic injury can be the cause, most cases are congenital (present from birth) and hereditary. This is why working with a breeder who screens their Doxies for patellar luxation is important. It is more common in smaller dog breeds than larger dogs and can cause severe discomfort and pain.

Symptoms

  • Weakness or hobbling
  • Struggling to stand up or jump
  • Kicking out
  • Reluctance to walk or run
  • Bow-legged appearance
  • Yelping or vocalizations of pain

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your vet must assess your pooch with a physical exam to diagnose a luxating patella. Veterinarians grade patella luxation based on the severity of the disease from grades I-IV. They usually assess the grade and the level of cartilage damage via an X-ray. This health issue can occur once, and your vet can slip it back into place. Please don’t try to attempt this yourself. Sometimes, the patella can move frequently, and if it does, your vet might recommend corrective surgery to prevent it from happening again.

5. Heart Disease

There are various types of heart disease, including mitral valve disease (MVD,) pulmonic stenosis, and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Most heart disease in dogs results from the weakening or degeneration of heart valves. Over time, the heart has to work harder, putting strain on the cardiac system. Blood can also leak into the weak valves, putting further strain on the heart. In their later years, heart failure is a leading cause of death among Dachshunds.

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weight loss
  • Behavioral changes
  • Irritation
  • Poor sleep
  • Collapsing

Diagnosis & Treatment

Regular vet visits can help identify heart disease early, which might be indicated by a murmur. If diagnosed early, medications can help prolong your Doxie’s life. In severe cases or if untreated for too long, your vet might suggest heart surgery. However, this is sometimes not an option as it is an invasive procedure. Sadly, if undiagnosed, sudden death and congestive heart failure can occur. This is why regular health checks are essential.

6. LaFora Disease

Not many dog owners have heard of LaFora disease. It is a rare neurological disease, and little research has been conducted on it. Although it can occur in any breed, it seems more prevalent in miniature wire-haired Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and Beagles. It’s similar to epilepsy and causes jerking and seizures. LaFora is progressive and causes neurological changes over time and can lead to ataxia (lack of muscle control), blindness, and dementia.

Symptoms

  • Rapid shaking or jerking of the head
  • Panicked behavior
  • High-pitched vocalizations
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Dementia
  • Blindness

Diagnosis & Treatment

Affected dogs typically show symptoms after five years. Your vet can only diagnose the disease by identifying Lafora bodies found with microscopic evaluation of muscle, nerve, or liver biopsies. They might also request an MRI brain scan to rule out other potential health issues. Fortunately, LaFora disease and epilepsy are treatable with drug therapy and lifestyle changes to avoid flashing lights and exercising in direct sunlight. Your vet might suggest dog sunglasses and a dietary change to a low-glycemic diet.

If your vet recommends a low-glycemic diet, check out our Nulo dog food review. They offer a wide range of high-quality, low-glycemic options.

7. Dental Disease

Periodontal diseases in dogs are more common (and serious) than owners realize, and they can affect your dog’s overall health and eventually lead to organ failure. According to the College of Veterinary Medicine, 80% to 90% of dogs over the age of three have some component of periodontal disease. It’s more frequent in smaller breeds, too, because of the compact nature of their teeth. So, it’s essential to take your Dachshund’s dental hygiene seriously.

Symptoms

  • Brown teeth
  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Smelly breath
  • Pawing at their mouth
  • Behavioral or eating changes

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your vet needs to inspect your dog’s mouth to diagnose periodontal disease. They might also require an X-ray to assess the damage to the teeth and gum tissues. Treatment usually includes professional dental cleaning and maintaining dental hygiene at home. In more severe cases, your vet might recommend antibiotic treatment and surgery.

Learn how to brush your dog’s teeth in our dental health guide and how much dog teeth cleaning costs.

8. Obesity

Being overweight or obese is a massive problem for Dachshunds. Not only is it unhealthy for any dog breed, but for Doxies, it can put significant strain on their spine, which increases the risks of IVDD. Being overweight and obese puts pressure on their joints and cardiac system and leads to less activity, which spirals into one big health problem. It can also lead to other health concerns such as diabetes, arthritis, kidney and liver disease, and increases the risk of certain cancers.

If your Doxie is starting to look more like a banana than a hot dog, it’s time to reconsider their diet, exercise routine, and overall lifestyle. If you need help determining whether your Doxie needs to lose weight, check out our guide on how heavy your dog should be.

My Personal Experience With Dachshund Health Issues

Vet Tech Prepping Dog for X-Ray
An x-ray or ultrasound may be needed to determine whether further action is necessary to remove the sock.

I rescued a five-month-old Doxie named Chips in June 2023. Thankfully, she is a healthy pup showing no signs of disease or other health issues. However, within the first week of having her, she ended up in the emergency vet hospital. Here’s my experience.

Despite being an experienced dog owner and an ex-professional dog walker and sitter with a certificate in pet first aid, I nearly lost my pup within a few days of becoming a Doxie mom. I instantly knew she was super curious and cheeky, but I underestimated how much. One evening, she got into a tray of painkillers in a zipped bag, which was in a closed pocket at the bottom of my gym bag, which was in a cupboard. She ate eight tablets of ibuprofen and became very sick with ibuprofen poisoning. She lost all control of her back end, and my husband rushed her to the vet. They pumped her stomach and administered activated charcoal, and the vet said she was lucky to make a full recovery.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to submit an insurance claim. But if I had delayed treatment, she would have undoubtedly required hospitalization, intravenous fluids, blood work to monitor her kidney and liver function, and further medication. The vet bill for these life-saving efforts would have cost thousands of dollars, and a claim would have been necessary. This shows how important having pet insurance is because you never know when emergencies might happen.

Emma Braby, Doxie Mom & Writer For Canine Journal

Read my Dr. Cuddles ReadyRESCUE review to learn more about this detox first-aid treatment, which can help in these medical emergencies.

Health Testing For Dachshund Health Issues

The health statement from the Dachshund Club of America (DCA) recommends the following health screening tests for Dachshunds:

  • Patella Luxation
  • Eye Examination
  • Basic Cardiac Examination

Reputable Dachshund breeders should adhere to these health screenings recommended by the DCA. This increases the likelihood of healthy litters and promotes the health of the Doxie breed overall. When looking for a reputable breeder, it’s important to ask for these health certificates and meet the pups in person. Ask questions about Doxie puppy milestones and what to expect.

Average Costs For Dachshund Health Issues

According to Fetch Pet Insurance, the three most common conditions Dachshund parents file claims for are IVDD, diabetes, and eye disorders. Associated costs for these health problems over a lifetime are as follows:

  • Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD): $5,000 to $6,500
  • Diabetes: $5,600 to $8,700
  • Vision disorders: $4,200 to $5,400

How Pet Insurance Can Help

These are just some of the main health conditions that can affect this iconic breed. The cost of pet health care can be very expensive, which is why it is important to consider pet insurance. Not only can it help you cover the cost of your Doxie’s health care, but it also offers you peace of mind knowing that your pup is cared for rather than worrying about the financial implications of getting them better. Most providers do not cover pre-existing conditions, which is why it is wise to cover them when they are a puppy. Our pet insurance reviews offer you the best options and help you find a company that fits your needs.

Fetch Customer Testimonial For Dachshund Health Issues

I’m so glad I got Fetch pet insurance. I was a little leery at first because this was the first time I had ever purchased pet insurance. My Dachshund is only 4 years old and needed to have emergency IVDD surgery. Without insurance, I would have paid out more than $6,000. I would definitely recommend this company!

– Missy

Frequently Asked Questions

Frisco Wooden Crate

We know some of our readers still have questions about Dachshunds’ common health issues and how best to care for them. If you can’t see your question below, please ask in the comments, and we’ll find the answer for you.

Do Dachshunds Have Health Issues?

Like all dog breeds, Dachshunds are predisposed to several health issues. According to Fetch Pet Insurance, the three most common Weiner dog health issues are IVDD, diabetes, and eye disorders. The DCA also recommends screening for patella luxation, heart disease, and eye disorders.

Should I Get Pet Insurance For My Dachshund?

You should definitely consider getting pet insurance for your Dachshund. While you cannot predict your Doxie’s health future, with pet insurance, you can rest easy knowing you’re taking steps to protect them and your wallet. As you can see, vet bills can be costly, and I’d never be without pet insurance because I’d likely face financial difficulty without it.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Dachshund?

Dachshunds are a relatively healthy dog breed with an expected 12 to 16 years lifespan. All dogs are different, and not all Doxies reach this age, but many have lived well beyond this age. Learn more about Dachshund lifespans and what to expect.

What Do Dachshunds Usually Die From?

Most Dachshunds live long and happy lives and usually die of old age. Aside from generic old Dachshund health problems, the two most common causes of death in Doxies are heart disease and complications resulting from IVDD.

How Do I Keep My Dachshund Healthy?

Now that you know more about the most common Dachshund health issues, you should research ways to keep your Doxie as healthy as possible. We have guides on the best dog food for Dachshunds, which include tips on keeping them healthy and fit. We have also found the best dog beds for Dachshunds and why it is important to provide them with a comfortable and supportive place to rest. It’s also a good idea to consider investing in a high-quality harness for your Doxie to make walks safer and more enjoyable.

Has your Doxie suffered from any of these health issues? Or perhaps they’ve experienced something not on this list? We’d love to hear about your stories and Doxie pups in our comments below.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is the mom to two rescue dogs, Bonkers and Chips, a young and sassy Dachshund. She has learned a thing or two over the years about Doxies and is absolutely crazy about them. Emma has cared for many Wiener dogs during her career as a dog walker, pet sitter, and writer specializing in canine content. She loves sharing her experiences and knowledge with her readers and works with a dedicated team to bring them the most up-to-date and helpful information on all things dog.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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