Health and the Dachshund

Quality Dachshunds are basically healthy, sound, loving, family members. Obesity tends to be a problem since these dogs will willingly become couch potatoes. It is up to the owner to maintain an exercise and diet program. A daily walk and a few extra supplements will help you to maintain a healthy coat, immune system, proper body function and structure along with a happy attitude for your Dachshund. It is wise to make sure that your Dachshunds gets the appropriate amount of calcium, vitamin C, Evening Primrose Oil and others your veterinarian may mention. There are many good combination supplements on the market that include many, if not all, of the ingredients needed.

It is vital that your Dachshund receives its vaccinations and worming on a regular basis. Remember to check about putting your Dachshund on a heartworm prevention and flea and tick medication.

You will also need to be aware that being low to the ground, with rather pendulous ears; Dachshunds have the perfect breeding environment for fungus, bacteria and ear infections.


Degenerative Disc Disease

Dachshunds are prone to degenerative disc disease although some bloodlines appear to have a higher incidence of this problem than others. Dogs with Spinal problems should never be used for breeding. Dogs producing offspring with spinal abnormalities should be spayed or neutered. (See Intervertebral Disk Disease)

Diabetes Mellitus

As with diabetes in humans, diabetes mellitus in dogs is primarily attributed to insufficient insulin production by the pancreas. Diabetes impacts the entire animal. With early diagnosis, treatment, and controlled diet the animal can live a long healthy life.

In a "normal" dog the pancreas produces insulin, which is secreted directly into the dog's blood circulatory system. Insulin enables the dog's blood cells to utilize blood glucose (sugar) to be metabolized for energy. Inadequate insulin production results in diabetes mellitus.

Without adequate insulin production the dog's blood glucose concentration will increase, resulting in a condition called hyperglycemia. Due to the build up of unused blood sugar, the dog's kidneys increase their activity, to cleanse the system. The increased kidney activity causes excessive urination, which in turn causes excessive thirst (to replace loss fluid).

The initial indications of diabetes mellitus are usually:

a) increase in appetite - to get the energy the dog's system is lacking, since it isn't metabolizing sugar.

b) increase in urination - the kidneys trying to cleanse unused blood glucose from the circulatory system.

c) increase in thirst - the dog's system trying to replace fluid loss due to increased urination.

d) weight loss - the body isn't getting energy from the digestion and metabolism of blood sugar, therefore it digest stored body fat.

Your veterinarian can determine whether or not your dog has diabetes mellitus. With early diagnosis, treatment and proper diet - diabetic dogs can live long, healthy lives. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, vomiting, weakness, dehydration, labored breathing, coma and eventually death.

Progressive Retinal Degeneration
also known as:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Researched and Written by: Lee Weston

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) are among the most common eye problems in Dachshunds. These conditions usually begin to display symptoms at about 2 years of age. They are progressive in their degeneration. Both conditions are hereditary. Both parents should have CERF certification proof, when looking to purchase a pup.

Progressive Retinal Degeneration refers to a broad group of inherited, and sometimes acquired, retinal conditions which will eventually result in the blindness of the dog. Due to the nature of this disorder, and the fact that it does not always have noticeable symptoms until it is relatively advanced, repeated examinations may be required to detect the individual with P.R.D. Dogs that have been affected and diagnosed with P.R.D. should not be used for breeding purposes.

Some experts in the field of eye disorders, think that P.R.D. is an immune response problem. Should the pet be fighting a viral or bacterial infection, it will be reflected in the general health of the animal's eyes. The eye, particularly the retina, is dependent on a supply of blood to keep it fed and healthy. If the blood supply becomes contaminated with a virus, bacteria or toxin, the eyes are like windows to the state of the body, and changes within the eye can be observed and is often important in making a diagnosis of an illness.

The retina is a highly complicated tissue located at the back of the eye. Light strikes the retina and starts a series of chemical reactions that causes an impulse. The impulse passes through the layers of the retina to the optic nerve, and from there to the brain where vision takes place.

In the retina, cells called rods are involved with black and white, or night vision. The cells called cones are involved with color, or day vision. Progressive retinal degeneration may affect either the rods alone, the cones alone, or both the rods and cones together.

P.R.D. should not be confused with dysplasia which is a blindness caused by the abnormal development of the retina. Progressive Retinal Degeneration is the slow death of retinal tissue and the earliest signs may be overlooked by the owner. P.R.D. is not a painful condition - there are no reddened eyes nor any increase in blinking or squinting. Sometimes what happens is the owners may notice an abnormal "shine" coming from their pet's eyes. This abnormal shine occurs because the pupils are dilated and don't respond as quickly to light as the pupils of a normal dog. Some dogs will seem disoriented when going out to the yard at night, the owners end up leaving a light on for them. Night blindness may be observed in a dog that is afraid to go into a dark room. Occassionally, these pets will get lost in their own home after the lights have been turned off. Night vision difficulties, in most cases, will progress to day blindness as well.

P.R.D. will progress at different rates in different breeds. This variation causes difficulty in determining just how long any particular dog will continue seeing. It is imperative that your veterinarian be involved in the treatment of your dog, and in recommending an ophthalmologist. Your dog can still lead a productive, involved and full life even when blind. The decisions and responsiblity for the dog's life are up to the owner.

Adrenal Gland Malfunction

Dachshunds are prone to malfunction of the adrenal gland. Although this appears to be more pronounced in some bloodlines than in others.

Partial List of other genetic health problems found in the Dachshund

Cleft Palate
Jaw and dentition anomalies
Merle/Double Dapple syndrom
"Overshot" jaw
Crooked Tail
Hair Loss
Cushings Disease
Underactive Thyroid
Von Willebrand's Disease

Another consideration that is available to Dachshund owners is the use of microchips. We now have the affordable technology to help keep our companions from being lost and possibly lossing their lives by having a microchip inserted and then registering with one of the nations registeries such as the AKC Companion Animal Recovery.