Internal Diseases

The dachshund is prone to several internal diseases owners should be aware of. Though these diseases do not appear in large numbers within the breed, they are more prevalent in the dachshund than in the general dog population, making the dachshund at greater risk.

Bladder Stones

Some dachshunds are prone to form stones. The stones can be found anywhere in the urinary tract system, but they occur most commonly in the bladder or urethra. Symptoms of bladder stones include blood in the urine, frequent and painful urination, or, if a stone is blocking the urethra, no urine flow at all. Treatments include special diets and surgery.

Bloat

If your dog is suffering from bloat or if you even suspect it, this is an all-out emergency. Bloat, or gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV), is aptly named because the stomach fills suddenly with gas, causing the stomach to expand (and possibly twist), squashing surrounding organs and causing them to fail. The dog goes into shock and will die if not treated immediately.

Researchers have not come up with any definitive cause for bloat, but stress seems to be an underlying factor. Dogs who are fed one large meal instead of two to three smaller meals may be at increased risk. Dogs who haven't cooled or settled down after a period of exercise or intense excitement before eating may be at greater risk, too.

It is the general recommendation that you wait one hour after strenuous exercise or other heavy stress situations before you feed your dog. Also, give him at least two hours after meals before allowing him to get involved in these types of activities.

Symptoms of bloat include the following:

  • Distention or swelling of the belly

  • Whining

  • Pacing

  • Restlessness

  • Looking at or licking the belly

  • Trying unsuccessfully to vomit

Surgery is necessary to relieve the pressure on the organs and to reposition the stomach. Medical management of the disease may be possible after the initial bloat.

Quality care will ensure that your dachshund lives a long, healthy life.

Diabetes

Canine diabetes mellitus is the result of a breakdown in the normal function of the pancreas, which in turn does not make sufficient insulin. With no insulin in the blood, blood sugar increases, causing a chain reaction of events that can wind up with the dog slipping into a coma and dying.

Early signs of diabetes include an incredible thirst and copious urination. The dog will also be constantly hungry, yet will appear to be wasting away. There is no cure for diabetes; however, treatments are available that involve a restricted diet and medication to lower glucose levels.

Cushing's Disease

This disease attacks dachshunds usually after the age of six. The disease is caused by a malfunctioning adrenal gland that is producing too much Cortisol. This hormone affects many different functions, such as the dog's immune and inflammatory responses, and the metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Symptoms run the gamut from panting, an extended belly, and an increase in appetite, to thinning skin, hair loss, and muscle wasting. Most dogs also show a huge increase in drinking and a subsequent increase in urination.

The mode of treatment will vary with the underlying cause of Cushing's disease and may include medications and/or surgery.

The dog is thought to be in a life-threatening situation if the seizures come in a chain of multiple seizures with no break, or if the dog is having cluster seizures, in which multiple seizures occur during a twenty-four-hour period.

Epilepsy

Seizures come in two forms: those that have a cause (secondary epilepsy) and those that don't (idiopathic epilepsy). If a dog begins to have seizures after the age of seven, it is usually secondary epilepsy that is caused by something such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or a brain tumor. If a dog has a seizure before age seven, it is most likely an inherited form of idiopathic epilepsy.

Prior to a seizure, many dogs try to stay close to their special person. They may also whine, cry, or drool. The seizure itself can range from very mild (a momentary blank, glazed-over stare into space) to moderate (loss of consciousness, falling to the ground, paddling of legs, screaming).

If the seizures have an underlying cause, the dog is treated for the disease, if possible. In cases in which a cause cannot be identified, there are several medications that can help to control the frequency and intensity of the seizures.

Hypothyroidism

This disorder is caused when the thyroid isn't producing enough hormones. It usually doesn't appear until the dachshund is an adult or even a senior. Symptoms include lethargy loss of hair, weight gain, and a greasy or dry coat. Hypothyroidism is not curable, but it is easily managed in most dachsies. Treatment is very simple and quite effective: a daily dose of thyroid replacement hormone.

In some instances, your dog may need a specialist. Veterinarians can obtain specialties in a long list of interests, including dermatology, ophthalmology, internal medicine, pathology, and anesthesiology. If a veterinarian has been board certified in a specialty, the veterinarian is said to be a diplomate of that particular specialty's certifying organization.

Cancer

The dachshund, fortunately, does not appear to be at increased risk for any particular type of cancer, but all dogs are more prone to developing a range of cancers as they age. For this reason, anyone with an aging dachshund would be wise to regularly check for lumps and bumps.

There are also less obvious signs of the presence of cancer. The Veterinary Cancer Society has developed the following top-10 list of symptoms to assist owners in detecting early warning signs of disease:

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow

  2. Sores that do not heal

  3. Weight loss

  4. Loss of appetite

  5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening

  6. Offensive odor

  7. Difficulty eating or swallowing

  8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina

  9. Persistent lameness or stiffness

  10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Many advances have been made in successfully treating numerous cancers in dogs. The most important factors in determining a dog's potential survival is not only the type of cancer but how early the disease is detected and how aggressively it is treated.

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