Here in the UK, we are currently going through a heatwave of around 32* + weather.
I still consider myself a new dog owner and I wouldn’t have really known about dogs and summer weather being a potential issue until I witnessed with my own eyes what the hot weather can do to a dog.
Whilst we were out on a casual walk a few weeks ago, the weather was probably no hotter than 24* but it was still pretty warm. The dogs were playing in the open fields where one of them suddenly stopped moving and decided to stay still. The owner picked up their dog and found that their dog was shivering uncontrollably and drooling.
Immediately we took her into the shade whilst they arranged an emergency vet appointment.
At first we didn’t know what was going on as the other dogs seemed fine and were still playing.
We speculated that it might have been an upset stomach etc.
But the following day I stumbled across a graphic being shared around in the doggy forums where they discuss the symptoms of heatstroke.
After seeing this, it was clear to me that the dog was showing signs of heatstroke and as a relatively new dog owner, I would not have really been aware of this being such an issue with summer weather at 24*.
Now that this week is averaging 30-32*+ I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss a few best practices.
Tip 1 – Walk your dog early morning and late night
Before the sun can fully rise or is about to start setting is when the temperatures are lower. In the middle of the night is clearly going to be much cooler, but realistically you won’t walk your dog at this time.
It may be a little inconvenient but ideally you should try walk your dog outside of peak heat hours. So your daily routine may have to change throughout summer.
Tip 2 – Restrict exercise
We all want to exercise our dogs to maintain their weight, keep them active and happy, but in this type of heat, letting them generate more internal heat within their bodies is potentially dangerous given the fact that the outside temperatures are soaring.
Keep their exercise in shaded areas and to a minimum
Tip 3 – Carry Water
Like us humans, in the heat, we get thirsty. So it’s essential you carry around something where you can give your dog water on-the-go!
Whether this be a collapsible bowl which you simply fill with bottled water, or a doggy specific bottle with a bowl on the end for them to drink out of.
We first noticed it as other dog owners during our walks were using it and were impressed by the convenience it offers. I will write up a review on this product soon, but in short, it is convenient, clean, tidy and simply works!
In the summer the concrete ground can get hot and our short legged Dachshunds unfortunately don’t have much clearance with their chest and belly’s from the ground. Therefore the heat can reflect off the ground and back up to the bodies.
Keep their exercise on grass where possible or remember to stay in shaded areas on concrete.
There are more in-depth articles out there, however I just wanted to do a quick post to ensure the message is spread and that people are more aware of the dangers this heatwave can provide to our short legged friends.
I do feel this topic is a little overlooked with Dachshund owners. I hear many of them discuss how to not let their dogs go up and downstairs, jumping on and off furniture, but not too much attention on how to hold their Dachshund.
Due to their long spines, it is important that you do not hold them from the centre of their spine but instead support from their chest and rear.
If you are holding them with one arm, you must support their chest with your hand as well as their rear between your elbow and side of your chest.
Some people may not be able to hold them like this due to strength or length of arm.
If this is the case, it’s best to hold your Dachshund in front of you with two arms. As before, supporting their entire body is important and not let their rear hang.
First and foremost, I would encourage you all to check out the website, Dachshund IVDD. This website’s topic is solely regarding IVDD and they have advice, resources and other owner experiences with this issue which can potentially cause your Dachshund challenges.
I am no expert in the matter but I will be discussing my findings across various sources as well as my general opinions on how to care for your Dachshund to prevent such health concerns.
I decided to write this post as I had felt that it’s not openly discussed enough. Dachshunds draw a lot of attention from the public and any Dachshund owner knows the difficulty of walking the streets sometimes unnoticed. Dachshunds are incredibly cute, so as owners we should not let this cuteness distract us from taking certain precautions.
So I hope this post will give you a better idea of the topic and encourage you to go do your own research through other medically established sources and come to your own conclusion about how to care for your Dachshund.
What is IVDD?
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition not exclusive to Dachshunds, but all animals in general. However, it is much more common with Dachshunds due to their short legs and longer spines.
The basic issue is a degenerative portion in the centre of the disc leaking fluids into the spine which causes compression on the spinal cord.
This can lead to your dog experiencing a lot of pain, or even worse, paralysis.
How common is IVDD?
The short answer, 1 in 4 Dachshunds will suffer some some degree of IVDD in their lifetime. In percentage terms, that’s 25% likelihood of this happening.
This is obviously quite a high number, especially when you consider that Dachshunds are 10-12x more likely to experience this issue than other dogs.
Dachshund IVDD carried out a study and found that there was no difference between male and female Dachshunds, but there were some differences between the variety of Dachshunds.
I would encourage you to goto Dachshund IVDD yourself to view the graphs as their findings are truly interesting.
It appears that the Smooth Haired Dachshunds, in both miniature and standard size, are the most susceptible to IVDD.
I suspect this is because the smooth haired Dachshunds are the purest breed of Dachshunds. Dachshunds were cross-bred with other breeds to obtain the long and wired hair variant. So not only would they have inherited the hair type, they may have inherited a stronger spine!
I’m unsure if knowing what variant of Dachshund is the most susceptible would sway you from your choice, but we are currently still considering a smoothed hair miniature Dachshund.
How can you prevent IVDD?
Unfortunately the rawest answer is, you can’t!
Ultimately if your dog is likely to go through IVDD, you can’t really avoid it as some of the causes are inherited from birth.
As an example, Crusoe The Celebrity Dachshund has recently gone through IVDD. Crusoe’s parents had taken precautions since day one and unfortunately he still required surgery. To read more click here.
However, there are a few precautions you can take to help them protect their backs.
No jumping on and off furniture
We do let Choco jump on and off our couch, however we have gotten him a large foot-stool as a step to come down off the couch. We did consider a ramp, but the ramp would only offer one route off and we found the foot-stool gives him options from both sides of our corner couch.
No going up and down stairs
We have had mixed advice with this topic of stairs. Some Vets being adamant that they do not go up or down stairs and other Vets saying it’s ok for them to go up to remain exercised and strengthen their backs. However, the one consistent is that we do not let them go down stairs at all.
We do not let Choco go downstairs, however there are a few exceptions where if the steps are deep and shallow to allow him to land safely on all 4 paws.
We go with the reasoning that going up will help strengthen his back as the movement of going up stairs is not too different from going up a ramp or hill. Downstairs however is different and we can just imagine as humans how much different it is for us to crawl up stairs and to crawl down.
Keep your Dachshund fit!
For small dogs, the general rule is to walk them 30min a day total. Most owners divide that into 2x15min walks. However, we consider this to be the minimum for Choco and on rainy days, we make a point about playing fetch with him indoors as much as possible so he gets the steps in!
However, for younger puppy’s I would caution you on over exercising them as they’re still developing. Especially with allowing them to rough play with other Dachshunds. I would advise under 6 months, keep them to solid walks, but after 6 months, then let them play with other Dachshunds with a little rough and tumble.
According to Dachshund IVDD there was no correlation between diets and IVDD.
However we have personally found with Choco that Royal Canin biscuits suit him best with regards to his energy levels and healthy looking poo. So Royal Canin does make up the majority of his diet, but we do try to mix in some wet food and raw food. Occasionally we boil chicken breast and bake a sweet potatoe for Choco to mix things up.
We do this mainly because we do want Choco to get a varied diet and receive nutrients which one type of food may not offer.
But ultimately, according to the studies, none of this will play any part on whether Choco ever has to go through IVDD.
Pick Up, Put Down & Hold Your Dachshund Correctly
Because of their long spines, it’s important that you pick up and put down your Dachshund with care and consideration. It’s important you support as much of their spine as possible by lifting from the front and back.
Likewise with picking up and putting down your Dachshund evenly, you should also hold them evenly with their entire spine supported.
Click Here to follow the link to the full article.
Can they recover from IVDD?
Yes! It is possible for your Dachshund to recover from IVDD.
IVDD is somewhat of a spectrum from pain to paralysis. I’ve read that some dogs have simply had steroid injections or infrared treatment and have recovered. Some have required surgery and physiotherapy but ultimately have recovered.
There are some dog’s whom unfortunately do not recover, but they still do live full and happy lives!
This was in no-way meant to be a conclusive article on IVDD. I wrote this with the intention it would provide you with an overview of IVDD and what to look out for.
There are of course more resources out there and more points to cover and I would look to dive into them in more depth in future posts.
However, in conclusion to what has been written above, IVDD is something all Dachshund owners should be aware of but should not panic and worry over.
I spent the first 3 months of having Choco in a panic about his spine. Worrying everyday whether I am doing right by him to ensure he never has to go through this.
I had multiple conversations with various vets and read multiple sites and have found a lot of conflicting information.
There are some websites and vets who advise strongly in one direction of safety and other websites and vets who have advised a more relaxed but cautious approach.
We opted for the latter…
We decided that we want Choco to not be wrapped up in cotton wool and activities which are frowned upon by some such as letting him go upstairs would in fact strengthen his body in the long run as opposed to some people’s perception of it just wearing him down.
Ultimately we will never know on individual basis why certain dogs do suffer from IVDD, but all we can do as dog owners is to do our best for our dogs.