Dachshunds, Back Pain, and Animal Chiropractic

If you own a Dachshund, you are probably aware that they are prone to back problems.  As a matter of fact, the lifetime prevalence for disc disease in the breed is estimated to be 19%.  Essentially, 1 in 5 Dachshunds will experience disc disease during their lifetime.  This is a debilitating condition that can lead to pain, paralysis, and many other secondary problems.  Is there anything pet owners can do to help alleviate this problem, or is it inevitable for our little friends?  There are a few potential options, but one major player in prevention is animal chiropractic.

Why and when does disc disease affect Dachshunds?

There are many theories as to why they this occurs, but it appears that genetics play a large role.  Dachshunds are grouped into a set of dogs called chondrodystrophoid breeds.  These breeds, in general, experience a peak incidence of disc disease between the ages of 4-6 years of age.  In a nutshell, this is the period when a Dachshund is most at risk for experiencing the condition responsible for the following symptoms:

  • Pain and weakness in rear end
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
  • Muscle spasms in neck and back
  • Reduced appetite and activity level

If the peak rate is between 4 and 6 years of age, is there anything we can do before?

How does animal chiropractic help Dachshunds and other pets?

Animal chiropractic care that focuses on structural correction is concerned with the proper alignment of the spine.  When segments in the spine, called vertebrae, are out of normal alignment it can lead to inflammation and other stresses that put pressure on the discs and nerves.  Over time, this pressure can contribute to the disc bulging.  This disc bulge can contact the spinal cord – which leads to a whole host of problems.  Think about a misaligned vertebra like a car out of alignment.  Over time this poor alignment leads to many secondary issues like uneven tire wear, compromised suspension and steering parts, as well as reduced fuel economy. In the case of a dog, it can lead to many of the secondary conditions listed previously.

What is it animal chiropractors do then? 

Each visit, animal chiropractors do an examination to evaluate motion and position of the vertebrae in the spine.  When they find one that isn’t moving right, they use a very gentle adjustment to guide it back toward the correction position.  Concerned about some of the things you heard about human chiropractic?  Don’t worry, animal chiropractic differs in that:

  • It is very gentle – There is no cracking or popping. It is so gentle you may miss it if you blink.
  • Animals respond quickly – There are no long care plans necessary for pets. Typically, it only takes three adjustments to see if a pet will respond and most will see a big improvement after the first.

While the philosophy is similar between human and animal chiropractic is similar, the skill set is different.  That is why it is important to find a veterinarian or chiropractor certified by the AVCA or IVCA to work with animals.

Unfortunately, Dachshunds are a breed prone to back problems.  This is probably due to a number of causes, but genetics appear to play a large role.  The peak years that an incident may occur appears to be between 4 and 6 years of age.  The good news?  Animal chiropractic is something you can begin early on to help stabilize the spine.  With a stable spine, your pet will be must more resistant to breakdowns that lead disc disease and back pain.

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