I love my beautiful Dachshund, Nellie. I made a big mistake and hurt her back. I now take great care in all I do to avoid another mistake.
Dachshunds Are Prone to Back Problems
Of all the health problems Dachshunds can have, back problems are at the top of the list, and there is nothing sadder than seeing a dog that can't move its back legs, can't control its bladder, and can't run or play all because of back problems. My beautiful long-haired Dachshund, Nellie (pictured below), developed a severe back injury when I allowed her to be free in the back seat of my car. It was a big mistake on my part—one that I have always regretted. I hope by sharing my story that I can educate other Dachshund owners.
How to Keep Your Dachshund Healthy
In this article, we will talk about:
- How to stop your dog from jumping on/off furniture.
- How to train your dog to use pet stairs.
- Why you should use a harness for your Dachshund.
- How to "walk" your dog even if they have back problems.
- How to properly pick up your Dachshund.
- How to manage chronic back issues in Dachshunds.
- Why you should keep your dog at a healthy weight.
Many back problems in dogs can be avoided if an owner takes the necessary precautions, so let's talk about what exactly that entails.
How to Stop Your Dachshund From Jumping
"My Dachshund loves to be on the couch, but how do I stop her from jumping and how can she safely get on the couch?"—this is a common question most Dachshund owners have. The simple answer is to get them some pet stairs and to not let them jump!
After Nellie got better from her back injury and was able to be let out into the house again, she wanted back on the furniture. We knew that the jumping up and down would be the worst thing that she could do. Each night as I watched TV, Nellie would lay beside me on the couch. I would pick her up and put her beside me.
It became a problem when I started to find her on the couch by herself and nobody had helped her up; she was jumping up and down again. Our friend suggested that we train her to use steps to get up on the couch. We bought a unit at the pet store that had three steps and started to train her to walk up them.
Using Pet Stairs for Dachshunds
It's important to note that a dog that is completely untrained or out of control can hurt themselves very quickly. My little girl, Nellie, is somewhat stubborn, so it took a while to train her on pet stairs. Eventually, she was trainable, but it took a lot of hard work.
How I Trained Nellie to Use the Stairs
Since Dachshunds are noted for their stubbornness, it took a lot of time and effort before Nellie finally got the message, but here's how I did it:
- I got some small treats and would place her at the bottom of the steps.
- Each step that she took would earn her a treat.
- Then, I got her to go down the steps and gave her treats for each step accomplished.
To my dismay, I saw her jump off the couch once more after the training—she cried a little because it hurt her. After about three weeks she began to use the steps all the time. Now that she is using the steps all the time, we feel that the possibility of her hurting her back again has been greatly reduced.
How to Safely Walk Your Dachshund
When walking your Dachshund, always protect their back and neck as these are the areas most prone to injuries. If you are using a neck-type leash, you are putting your dog's back at risk. Most dogs will pull on the leash when out for a walk. If there is tension on their neck because the leash is connected to their collar, then you could easily cause damage to the neck and the back.
The more you walk your dog this way, the more damage to their trachea (windpipe), vocal cords, and other areas of the neck. Instead, try using a harness that instead places the strain on the chest area. Your dog will probably pull less and you will be protecting your dog's vital neck area and reducing the possibility of injuring the back and neck.
There are many types and sizes of harnesses available. You need to make certain that the one you select will be correct for your dog's weight and length. Most pet stores will allow you to go in and get your dog properly fitted. You can also read customer reviews for product dimensions and sizing.
Prevent Accidents and Use a Harness for Walking
On a recent walk, I saw a man walking a small dog with a neck-collar-style leash. The dog didn't want to go, so he put his feet down, pulled backward, and slipped out of his collar. Had this been on a busy street and the dog bolted into the road, he could have easily been run over in a second.
Had this owner been using a harness, the dog would not have gotten loose and this near-death experience would have been avoided. For safety's sake, use a harness when walking your dog.
How to Walk Your Dog Even If They Have Back Problems
Nellie is one of those dogs that just lives for the afternoon when she can go for her walk. When she was hurt, she still wanted to go, but it was obvious that she couldn't walk for more than a few steps. Luckily, there was a solution that we discovered quite accidentally.
We saw many people out for walks with their young children who were in strollers. Suddenly the light came on: Why can't Nellie ride along for her walk until she is able to walk again? Even if your dog has a back problem, they can still go for walks in a doggy stroller.
I spent a lot of time on the internet and in pet stores doing research on the various dog strollers that were on the market. We stopped people on the street if we saw their dog riding in a stroller to get more information. The thing that struck us the most was that all the dogs seemed to be enjoying their ride.
We finally bought a Pet Gear Jogger because it had good suspension, large wheels for easy turning, and a cover that offered a lot of ventilation and was easy for Nellie to see out of. In the second picture above, you can see Nellie and our other dog, Daphne, together and out for a walk in the Pet Gear doggie stroller.
How to Pick a Dachshund Up the Right Way
How to Take Care of a Dog With a Back Injury
When a Dachshund injures their back, it becomes a lifelong problem thereafter. There are things you can do, however, to help them live a long and happy life with adequate support.
We took Nellie to the emergency vet as soon as we saw that she was hurt. Our fear was that she had slipped a disc or broken her back or some other horrible thing. After examining her, the vet said that she had not broken anything, but she was in pain from a bad neck strain. He supplied us with pain pills, steroid pills for inflammation, pills to keep her sedated and immobilized, and instructions to keep her off the furniture at all times.
Rather than crate her all the time, we decided to keep her in the laundry room (where her bed is) and only let her out to go "potty" while supervised. After a couple of weeks, she seemed to be without pain, so we began to let her out during the day where we could keep a close eye on her. As time went on, she got better and only showed signs of pain when she got overly excited. We had dodged a bullet, but we knew that it would always be a struggle to keep her from hurting herself again.
Keeping Your Dog at a Healthy Weight
Back and joint issues that are not a result of athletic injuries in dogs are often triggered by conformity issues or obesity. Unfortunately, many companion animals are obese, and the extra weight on the joints—especially in breeds like Dachshunds with long backs—can put a strain on the joints and vertebrae. Work with your vet to keep your Dachshund lean and at a healthy weight in order to prolong their quality of life.
Dachshunds Are Small but They Love to Play!
A Warning to All Pet Owners About Car Rides
My wife and I have always loved to travel—it didn't matter if it was a day trip or a longer trip. Since we have had animals all our married life, they came on trips with us. Most of the time, our pets would just be placed in the back seat and there they would stay. Nellie was always different than the others. She enjoyed standing up on her hind legs and looking out the window and barking at anything that moved.
On one of our day trips, Nellie decided that she wanted to be in the front seat. She tried jumping over the front seats, then she tried pushing through the side of the seats, under the seats, and even over the floor gear-shift. This went on for about half an hour . . . her jumping and us pushing her back.
When we reached our destination, Nellie was very subdued and didn't want to get out and walk around. When we got home, she was crying under her breath and began to scream when I tried to remove her from the car. At that point, it was pretty clear that she had injured herself.
If you have an active dog, always do your best to secure them safely when traveling and don't make the mistake that I did. It is important to not only train them but to proof your house and car to make sure that they are kept safe at all times. I hope you find the tips in this article helpful.
Does Your Dog Need Training?
If you have a disobedient or aggressive dog that causes you stress or embarrassment, then maybe it is time to start a training program. No pet owner should tolerate or allow for aggression and the behaviors that follow:
- bolting out the front door
- separation anxiety
- pulling on the leash
Remember: An out-of-control dog is a dog at risk of self-injury, so start training sooner than later.
Your Experience Is Most Valuable
We all love our Dachshunds and want them to be in the best health possible. Let others benefit from your experience. If your dog has experienced back problems, please leave your solutions or comments below in order to help others. Thanks for reading!
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Please share your story below:
Adopt, don’t shop! on February 17, 2020:
Or you could stop being a part of the problem, stop buying these breeds of dogs that have terrible, painful health issues bred into them, all for the sake of human selfishness and vanity... I feel quite sick reading the comments of people saying they ‘love’ these dogs who are ‘so cute’, and you’re ‘onto your second one’ with full knowledge that you are creating and perpetuating the problem for these poor innocent animals... Yes, dachshunds have back ruptured disks in their spines and pugs have chronic respiratory problems... Because selfish humans think extra long bodies and squashed faces are cute!!
Jimmy V on September 19, 2018:
Love our Dachshund. Concerned about back injuries.
Appreciate all suggestions to prevent back injuries.
Christa Avampato on October 30, 2016:
Thanks so much for this article. My dog, Phineas, had back surgery two years ago and then hurt his neck a few months after recovering while playing with another little dog. That second time, he had 4 weeks of rest and medication and was good as new. Somehow he has now hurt himself a third time and we're going through rest and medication again for 4 weeks. He didn't have any neurological deficits; just some pain. I've now decided that I won't even have my low couch anymore. I'm not sure if jumping up and down from it caused his latest issue since it appeared out of the blue but I don't want him to ever go through this again so away goes the furniture. I've also started him on homemade golden paste: http://petnblog.preciouspets.org/turmeric-helps-pr...
anonymous on October 22, 2012:
We took our beloved Dixie to be operated on today and this evening the vat said she had a level 3 disk rupture and it may not be good and we may have to put her down, both the wife and I don't really want to do that at all, does anyone know of this problem and if the dog has to be killed due to some sort of "deep pain"? Please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP since in the am we will get that awful call and I am hoping for the best. My name is Leon and don't be shy about saying what to do to keep this animal alive. She is only 5 and has many good years in her. I want to see her live to 15 or 18 before she goes out naturally! The wife is in tears when she even thinks of this.
karenlea1 on September 01, 2012:
one of my dachshunds had to have back surgery for a ruptured disk when she was 5 years old. Thankfully, with some doggie physical therapy, she was able to walk again and even run. She will never be 100% but she is 95% and I am so thankful for that! she loves to play fetch and she can still do that. she is 9 now and a happy girl.
anonymous on August 23, 2012:
I have two dachshunds both who are my life. Gino, my older Dachshund, has had two back surgeries in the last year. Now he is showing signs of possibly another back problem. My wife and I are a mess and he is only 8 years old. He does no jumping, running, or anything that would put him in harms way. Now he is on crate rest (again!) and I am hoping I do not have to make a horrible decision. I have been sick over this for days now. I am told that surgery is kind of rare, and a second surgery is extremely rare. So I am wondering how I am possibly headed towards a third. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
DecoratingEvents on June 15, 2012:
I love dachshunds! My parents have almost always had one and many of my childhood memories include the dogs. They do have back problems sometimes but we have been lucky with Lucy so far. She's 15 and has no back problems. Thanks for an informative article and sharing you own experiences! :D
anonymous on February 04, 2012:
Enjoyed the articles, especially the advice on using a harness instead of a collar. There is a support group & website online for those dachshund owners whose dog is showing signs of IVDD, it is at www.dodgerslist.com. I have several dachshunds that have had bouts with IVDD with one being a cart dog. Please do not let a vet tell you there is nothing to help your dog and it should be PTS, there are several options, please check out Dodgerslist.com!
jmzeller on January 28, 2012:
Enjoyed your lens. Very informative.
pushmountainroad on January 28, 2012:
Good link. We are now on our 2nd dachshund. Through our first we found an excellent veterinarian chiropractor that I recommend every dachshund owner use. Generally one visit every 3 months for maintenance works great. Here is a link of listed licensed vets. http://www.avcadoctors.com/avcadus.htm
Inkhand on January 17, 2012:
A helpful lens for all Dachshund owners.
RavenRunner on January 16, 2012: