Dachshund Anatomy

When your dog gets sick

Our dogs are usually the picture of health. They never complain, even when sick, so we have to be alert to when problems arise. We'll usually notice something out of the ordinary. Lack of appetite, lack of activity, problems urinating or defecating, or diarrhea. Whenever these abnormal symptoms last for more than a day it's time to visit the vet.

Any information you are able to give the vet when you take your dog to them will probably be really useful. As that information can give us hints on what the illness is and when it started.

When you see anything unusual, start analyzing these aspects: has your dog's personality changed, look for any hint of unusual aggressiveness, or maybe it is not as playful as usual. It is possible that the animal sleeps for much too long, or maybe walks nervously around the house, or seems to move awkwardly. Other details that might be serious are picking through the food, biting objects it had never bitten before, and eat or drink too much or too little.

Some common illnesses associated with dachshunds include: spinal deformities, bladder stones, and diabetes.

Other illnesses could include:


Life-threatening Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, GDV is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary assistance for proper diagnosis and treatment. Also known as Bloat, or Torsion, GDV can quickly take the life of your dog. Commonly seen in deep-chested breeds (Basset Hounds, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Dachshunds.), is caused by an intake of gasses that aren't released, through eating quickly, gulping water, and/or strenuous exercise after a meal. Gasses trapped in the stomach expand, causing a distention (bloat) of the stomach, which is readily visible from the appearance of the dog. The distention of the stomach causes it to rotate, possibly a full 360 degrees. Symptoms: restlessness, distended abdomen, glassy eyes, unproductive retching, excessive panting, salivating, arrhythmia, pale gums and mucous membranes.

Immediate veterinary assistance is needed to prevent fatality. Surgically releasing the gasses, the dog may need to undergo extensive surgical therapy to re-turn the stomach to it's original position as well as treatment of shock symptoms. Even after surgery, many dogs do not recover, and die of complications stemming from Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. Ongoing therapy is often needed.


Dry heaves may indicate that your pet has internal parasites, internal infection, food allergy, bloat, liver dysfunction or has swallowed and ingested a poisonous substance (such as bone meal fertilizer).

Bone meal is a finely ground bone used as a fertilizer for its content of phosphate and nitrogen (about 23%–30% available phosphate and 2%–4% nitrogen). Bone meal is also fed to farm animals to supply needed mineral food constituents, e.g., calcium and phosphorus. It is very attractive to dogs, who see it as a food source.

In other cases, dry heaves might be caused by a concussion from a head injury. After falling from a loft, for example, dry heaves or vomiting could be a sign of a more serious injury.


Kennel cough is a fairly common and highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It is also known as Infectious Tracheobronchitis. It is easily spread when dogs are in close contact with infected dogs, such as: kennels, veterinary hospitals or other boarding situations. Kennel cough may be caused by a variety of disease agents, either singly or in combination with each other. Possible disease agents include: canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus 2, or canine distemper virus. Other viruses may play a role, but the information is not as definitive. Bacteria, such as Bordetella bronchiseptica may be a sole causative agent or may be a secondary infection after initial viral damage. Other bacteria, usually gram negative bacteria, may also be secondary infectious agents after an initial viral infection.

While the cough may sound serious, this disease is often harmless and dogs recover uneventfully in a week or so. Symptoms may last as long as 20 days. It is worthwhile to note that kennel cough may have potentially serious respiratory complications for very young and very old dogs.

Patients with kennel cough usually act fine as far as activity levels, appetite, and general attitude. The cough produced is harsh, dry, and can be quite loud and forceful; sometimes inducing dry heaves or retching. If nasal discharge, lethargy, anorexia or other signs of illness are noticed, it may be something more serious than kennel cough. Either way, a visit to your veterinarian is in order. In patients with kennel cough, the trachea is often very sensitive; a collar may initiate a coughing spasm, so care must be taken to avoid use of collars and leashes in dogs with kennel cough to prevent tracheal damage.

Treatment for kennel cough is aimed at cough control. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary, but most often dogs will recover on their own in 5-20 days. The cough control is important because it reduces damage to the trachea. Common medications for cough control are hydrocodone and butorphanol. Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate medication(s) for your pet.

Bordetella Nasal Immunization
Administering Bordettela Nasal Immunization

Prevention of kennel cough is via vaccinations and isolating infected animals. A subcutaneous vaccination of modified live distemper, parainfluenza, and adenovirus 2 (which also protects against adenovirus 1) and a modified live intranasal vaccine of B bronchiseptica are protective for kennel cough. Dogs that are boarded or hospitalized frequently will be more at risk. Your veterinarian will be able to help set up a vaccination schedule suitable for the age and lifestyle of your pet.


HIp dysplasia is a crippling disorder common in many breeds; a shallow hip socket (acetabulum) results in an unstable hip joint, particularly during motion of hind leg.


Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the retina and optic nerve are damaged; certain breeds have a hereditary tendency for the disease; other breeds develop glaucoma as a result of other eye disorders.


Dogs are commonly exposed to worms and possible infestation—even in urban areas. Microscopic eggs produced by intestinal worms are passed in an infected dog’s feces. Most puppies, even from healthy mothers in good homes, carry roundworms or hookworms.

The key to treatment is correct diagnosis. This will ensure that the medication is effective against the parasite your pet has. A de-wormer that eliminates roundworms, for example, will not kill tapeworms. Your vet can best determine the culprit—and prescribe appropriate medications.

Immunization Injection

Common diseases that can be prevented with vaccinations

Every dog is susceptible to many disabling infectious diseases. As a concerned and responsible dog owner, it's important to understand and prevent these serious threats. Most all of these diseases are quite preventable but very difficult to treat. It is also important to understand that indoor or backyard dogs are not immune, as many diseases are airborne and/or can be carried in on clothing or by insects and birds. Also, where dogs are in close contact there is a higher risk of infection. Be a wise dog owner; be informed, provide lots of love and don't forget that simple ounce of prevention.


Parvo has become one of the most common and deadly viral illnesses of pet dogs. Dogs of all ages are affected, but young puppies have the most severe form of the illness. Symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea that can become bloody, weight loss, dehydration and death. Treatment includes IV fluids, antibiotics and intense supportive care. Many dogs can be saved. Vaccination is important but we have seen many cases in dogs vaccinated with over-the-counter vaccines or at superstore clinics so quality cannot be overlooked.

Read more about Canine Parvovirus


Distemper is still a common and deadly viral infection of dogs that is most common in young puppies. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, nasal and eye discharges and sneezing. Later, severe diarrhea, cough due to pneumonia, paralysis and convulsions can occur. Treatment is usually ineffective and most dogs with the illness die. Prevention is essential to stop this killer.


ICH is a virus that causes a contagious form of hepatitis in dogs. (not humans) Symptoms include loss of appetite, weakness, eye and nasal discharges and a cough. Later gums and other mucus membranes may turn yellow and death can occur. Treatment involves intense IV fluid therapy, intensive nutritional support, antibiotics and other medications to sustain liver healing. Vaccination can prevent this disease.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that attacks the kidneys and liver of infected dogs. The disease is contracted by drinking contaminated water or from contact with urine from an infected animal. Symptoms include fever, depression, yellow gums and other mucus membranes and blood in the urine. Dogs infected can become chronic carriers. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics, IV fluids and general supportive care.


Bordatella is a bacterium that can, along with other viruses or by itself, cause respiratory tract disease in dogs known as "kennel cough". Symptoms include eye and nasal discharges and a loud, harsh cough. Treatment with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications and cough suppressants is usually effective. Dogs put into kennels should be vaccinated. Annual vaccinations are usually provide enough protection for most dogs, however this particular vaccination does not quite last a full year. If your dog is regularly in situations where he might be exposed to other dogs, then a twice a year immunization program might be required. Injected immunizations last longer than the nasal vaccination, but the nasal vaccination provides protection faster.


Canine coronavirus is a common and contagious viral illness to dogs that can cause disease by itself or along with canine parvo virus. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. Treatment with IV fluids, antibiotics and general supportive care is usually effective. A vaccine is available.


Rabies is a serious and fatal illness of most mammals with dogs being an uncommon victim. The infection is spread by the bite of another infected animal. Symptoms include unusual behavior and unprovoked attacks by the cat. Treatment is unavailable but a vaccine is. All dogs must be vaccinated for this illness from four months of age on.


Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted to dogs by ticks. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, pain when moving, lameness and lymph node enlargement. Treatment involves antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. A vaccine is available.

Medicines and poisons

Never give your dog medications not been prescribed by a vet. Did you know that one regular-strength ibuprofen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in a ten-pound dog?

Keep rat poison and other rodenticides away from your pet. Outdoor lawn grub control products can also be lethal. If you suspect that your animal has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for 24-hour animal poison information at (888) 426-4435.