Dachshund Back Legs Not Working – What To Do?

Dachshund with Artificial Back Legs Support

Many Dachshund owners have reported that their Dachshund’s back legs stopped working, and the reason is unknown. There are many different causes of this condition, some of which can be treated while others cannot. One of the most common causes is a disk problem. You may want to take him for a checkup to determine if he has an injury or spinal cord damage. A good veterinarian can help. If it turns out that it is disk-related, you can try many treatments and remedies.

Some advice from experienced dog owners who have had this type of problem include:

  1. Put the dog on a burping diet for a while, which means no treats or table scraps and little exercise except walking around the house.
  2. Try acupuncture. It has worked for many owners.
  3. Ice can help when massaged on the back muscles three times a day.
  4. If you have a pool, let him swim in it for a while several days a week.
  5. You can try chiropractic treatments to stretch out the spine and stabilize the disk in his back by gentle manipulation of his spine.
  6. Please give him a hot bath with Epsom salts and massage his legs after each bath to stimulate circulation and loosen up the muscles, tendons, and joints of his legs so they have less pain and will work again easier once he’s recovered from this condition.
  7. If it is disk-related, it might be good to talk to your vet about possibly taking the dog for back surgery, but usually, that is only done if the spine is severed and he cannot move at all.
  8. Even if it’s not disk-related, you can have him put on an exercise program of daily walks and swimming in a pool several times a week.
  9. Many vets will suggest crate confinement for a few weeks which should help his muscles relax and heal.
  10. Massage the dog’s legs with linseed oil or castor oil several times a day while they are healing.

What Might Be Causing the Issue?

We need more information on your problem to diagnose it. If you’re still having trouble, what might be causing the issue?

  1. The most common cause of the issue is an injury during pregnancy that ruptured the connective tissue around his spine and caused a disk problem, which is treatable.
  2.  Another cause is degenerative disk disease, which MRI can diagnose. A dog with this condition might not have any pain at all while it’s healing but might seem weak or be disabled when he’s younger than three years old because of the lack of muscles in his backside and hind leg that provide support to his spine. 
  3.  Unknown causes are also possible, where we haven’t yet found a specific reason for your dog’s back legs not working correctly. Your dog’s initial condition might have had could be why its spine isn’t working well. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask us again.

What is IVDD?

IVDD stands for intervertebral disc disease. You may also hear it called IVD or IVDD, which is the abbreviation for intervertebral disc disease. That’s when one or more of your dog’s intervertebral discs rupture. When this happens, the spinal cord, nerve roots, and surrounding tissues can all be affected.

Intervertebral discs are located between each vertebra of your dog’s spinal column. These discs have an outer tough fibrous cover and a cartilaginous inner core that allows for flexibility. Each disc has a central core filled with a jelly-like substance called nucleus pulposus.

Most of the weight is usually supported on the front part of the dog’s body, and it is distributed across all four legs evenly. Each front limb’s weight is then divided across multiple vertebrae from their back to the dog’s tailbone (caudal portion). However, when the nucleus pulposus ruptures, your dog may develop IVDD.

Traumas like car accidents and falls can result in herniated discs. It can also be “slipped” into position naturally over time and begin to press on the spinal cord. There are many different breeds of dogs that get IVDD. It is most common in small/medium-sized breeds such as Dachshunds/weiner dogs, chihuahuas, miniature schnauzers, poodles, and terriers (including Yorkshire terriers).

Is it Bad?

Well, yes and no. Some dogs have a good prognosis for living a long healthy life after their IVDD diagnosis. Other dogs have long-lasting health problems that can become progressively worse if left untreated.

How Bad Is It?

With most dogs, it’s a good idea to monitor your dog’s spinal status regularly. Generally, you want to watch for any obvious neurological signs (such as limpness in the legs), loss or change in appetite, changes in urinary or fecal habits, and changes in personality/behavior. These are all signs of possible nerve damage and should be treated as soon as possible if they occur.

What Are the Treatment Options for IVDD?

Surgical Options:

  • Spinal Fusion Surgery

– This is considered to be the best choice for treating IVDD. It is quick, simple, and, most importantly, effective. There are two types of spinal fusion surgeries in dogs – anterior and posterior. Anterior means that the surgery occurs at the front of your dog’s body (compare to the posterior, which is the back). Here’s a picture of what a typical anterior fusion surgery looks like:

This type of surgery aims to fuse two or more vertebrae. The fusing process causes the bones to grow together and a large bone spur to form where the previous disc space used to be. Over time the body will absorb this excess bone tissue leading to a solid, firm fusion of the vertebrae. It creates a solid column of bones that will not allow any further disc herniation. 

A common misconception is that these surgeries are only performed on older patients, but that is not true. Spinal fusion surgery can be performed at any point in your dog’s life. However, it would be best if you considered your dog’s overall health before deciding his/her surgical course of action. With this in mind, most dogs can safely undergo spinal fusion surgery at age 6 to 8 years old.

  • Spinal Decompression

– This is a more extreme procedure usually only performed on dogs with IVDD. They have a herniated disc SUPPOSEDLY close to the spinal cord (the most common location being about four vertebrae above the dog’s tailbone). These procedures are called cervical decompression or C4-5. This procedure aims to remove or “decompress” the disk to not press on the spinal cord. This surgical procedure is usually performed in the hospital overnight and is often risky, painful, and costly if not performed correctly. 

Conservative Medical Options

– Conservative treatments are less invasive and milder in their effect. To keep your dog’s IVDD from progressing, they may consider medications or physical therapy. These treatments are often more frequent over time as your dog’s condition improves.


Your vet may prescribe pain medication, such as aspirin, to reduce the discomfort associated with IVDD. Another option is a narcotic pain medication prescribed for severe pain associated with IVDD. When it comes to narcotic pain medications, there are two types of medications: acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin/IBuprofen. Acetaminophen is considered a mild NSAID that can help reduce pain and cause ulcers when used for long periods. Symptoms that most commonly develop include an upset stomach. To avoid this and other potential side effects, your vet may suggest you give your dog smaller doses of these medications every 4 hours or so.

Physical Therapy:

In some cases, physical therapy can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with IVDD. It also helps to stimulate the healing process by working on strengthening muscles in your dog’s body. That usually takes place at the veterinarian’s office, but depending on the individual dog, you may do it at home as well. The exercises are often performed in your dog’s home environment and can include swimming, walking, and racing training.

  • Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is a medical procedure used to treat persistent pain from herniated discs that produce a sterile, cooling effect on the affected area. It uses liquid nitrogen and ice packs to freeze the painful disc and reduce inflammation and discomfort. This procedure typically heals disc herniation by reducing inflammation, swelling, stress on the spinal cord, and pain and stimulating blood flow to the affected area. 

  • Rehabilitation

Once your dog’s IVDD has been treated successfully through surgery or other conservative medical methods, the physical therapy phase may end. However, the rehabilitation phase begins. This phase is based on your dog’s specific needs, and how well his/her body responds to the surgery/treatment modality chosen. 

This phase aims to increase mobility, restore normal walking and running gait, improve quality of life, and reduce pain. While many dogs can recover with the treatment methods discussed above, some may never fully recover or require postoperative treatment. In these cases, dogs usually have a better chance of recovery if proper rehabilitation is done to strengthen their muscles and core.

What Does Strict Crate Rest Mean?

A strict crate rest means that you must give your pets a crate or kennel time to heal. It is vital for the animal’s health and well-being since anxiety can worsen the paw injury. 

Unlike humans, animals can’t tell us when something is hurting. Don’t let this lead to a worsening of the condition. Delaying crate rest may cause a chronic problem and leave your pet with a long-term disability.

Strict crate rest isn’t easy to implement, especially if you have two active dogs or a hyperactive puppy. But as an owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that it does get implemented.

It means that if you want your dog or puppy to heal well, you need to be the one watching over them at all times and putting an end to their activities until the paw is better. That may mean a few headaches, but it is worth it for their health and well-being in the long run.

What’s a Crate?

The crate is used for the dog’s comfort. A dog crate is a secure container where your pet sleeps. The portable device is strapped onto a porch or can stand on its own. 

Experts aren’t too keen on crates. It is essential to get your pet something better, such as a playpen, cave, soft bed, or even a cardboard box, which all have similar benefits to the crate (dogs can’t jump out of them).

Regulating the Environment

Many factors will affect your dog’s recovery. It has been proven that the environment they live in, or more importantly, those they interact with, will have a tremendous effect on their lifestyle. 

Most dogs enjoy others’ company, and many owners have two at home. Having a second dog to interact with during crate rest is vital for the healing process. It allows both dogs to bond and become familiar with each other’s behavior patterns. Owners can place their pack leader in the crate before feeding time or when they take out their need for toilet breaks without fear of being attacked by another dog.

Related: Pet Potty Training

There are many reasons why it’s vital to regulate these two dogs’ non-verbal communication. They will have to adjust and learn what each other is trying to communicate if they are kept within sight of each other. That could result in a dog feeling threatened or distressed and upsets their healing process.

A Journal of Surgical Oncology study found that dogs kept in kennels had higher postoperative complications than if they were allowed to go out for at least 15 minutes every day. 

Crate rest isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may be necessary to keep your dog’s need to interact with others in check. If your pet does not have a pack of dogs or people that they can call their own, we urge you to consider getting more than one of the pets (for example, two) and therefore have a leash on something to play with, even train.

Why Is Strict Crate Rest Necessary?

We all know that dogs are what we call “man’s best friend,” which is why they are so adorable, gentle, intelligent, and full of love. However, some dogs badly need your help. These dogs are often called “stubborn” and are unwilling to listen to you or your trained commands.

There are tons of reasons dog owners need strict crate rest. Resting the dog in its crate is crucial for its health. Risks of ignoring this step include susceptibility to infection, arthritis, skin infections, freezing in autumn, and blisters. 

If you have dogs who are natural hypochondriacs, crate rest needs to be implemented for their safety reasons. You must implement strict crate rest because it will prevent these problems from occurring while your dog heals from injury on its paw.

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