Dachshunds are an unusual looking breed with their distinctive short limbs and long body shape. Their unique shape is a great asset to their historical role as hunters of burrowing animals. Unfortunately, their elongated body type also makes Dachshunds prone to a variety of problems with their backs and spines that can lead to paralysis. Intertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) is an especially common ailment in Dachshunds leading to painful herniated disks which can cause paralysis if not treated quickly and carefully.
Spot the problem early
If you notice that your Dachshund is showing signs of paralysis of the back legs including weakening or reduced movement, you must act as quickly as possible. This can be difficult, as dogs are known for their high pain tolerance and for hiding weaknesses and injuries. Since Dachshunds are prone to back injury and disease, you should keep an eye out for any symptoms of reduced function in the legs or back.
If you notice any symptoms of paralysis, treat it as an emergency and take your dog to the vet or to an emergency clinic if it is after hours immediately. The sooner you act, the better your dog’s chances of recovery and maintaining a good quality of life.
Mild symptoms may be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatory, steroid, or muscle relaxer medications. In this case your dog will require a significant period of at least eight weeks of strict crate rest, as nerve and disk damage can take months to heal and it is critical that movement be limited during this time.
For more serious symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend surgery. Most commonly, a specialist would perform this surgery to repair damaged spinal disks. This operation can be quite delicate and costly, but it can make a big difference in your dog’s prognosis. The faster the surgery is done, the better the chances are that it will work, so it is important to decide and act as quickly as possible. The difference of a few days can be critical.
Healing time can take awhile and it is notoriously hard to predict the potential outcome of nerve damage. Your dachshund will likely need extended crate rest to heal no matter if treated with medication or surgery. During this time, your Dachshund should be kept in a crate with comfortable bed for Dachshund to minimize his movement. He should be gently carried to and from a potty place for bathroom breaks. To minimize the strain, locate the bathroom break area as close to the crate as possible. Most dogs will prefer a wire crate so they have good visibility from their resting spot. It is ideal to keep the crate near a center of family activity to prevent loneliness and isolation.
Pain control is also very important during the healing process and your vet may prescribe several different medications to fully control pain from dose to dose and avoid breakthrough pain. A stomach protector such as Pepcid AC may also be used to avoid gastrointestinal upset and damage. Physical therapy and massage may also be helpful during the healing process and can help restore sensation and function, depending on the dogÕs symptoms and healing progression.
Many Dachshunds do go on regain the ability to walk after paralysis. The most important thing in recovery is to try to allow your dog to remain pain free to regain a good quality of life. Two-wheeled dog wheelchairs can safely be used for Dachshunds with a loss of function in the rear legs, and will allow them to continue have a healthy and happy lifestyle. Dogs don’t understand vanity and disability the same as humans do, so as long their needs are well met and pain is controlled, they can live just as happy a life as any other dog even if they require long term mobility assistance.