Understanding your Dachshund's health issues: how real food can help

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Anna Wei

Dachshunds are lively pups full of love and loyalty. 

But their breeding history means their long body shape and short legs can make them more prone to health issues like musculoskeletal issues, obesity and even behavioural problems, which can have a major impact on their quality of life. 

That’s where real food comes in.  

Dachshunds need a considered fresh diet full of high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and nutrient-dense ingredients to nourish them from the inside out. 

Whether you’re looking to lower the risk of IVDD as a preventive measure or help your sausage dog lose extra weight that’s putting a strain on their joints, real food can play a key role. 

1. Musculoskeletal issues 

Dachshunds are bred for their long bodies and short legs, despite no longer being used to hunt badgers. Their body shape predisposes them to musculoskeletal health issues and weakness, including hereditary conditions like intervertebral disc disease, patellar luxation and hip dysplasia. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) 

1 in 4 Dachshunds experience a form of spinal disease during their life, ranging from minor discomfort, surgical intervention or inoperable. 

IVDD is a condition of the spine where one of the cushioned discs between two vertebrae bulges out and puts pressure on the spinal cord. It causes severe pain, and nerve damage and can even lead to paralysis. 

There are two types of IVDD, and Dachshunds are prone to Hansen Type 1. This is where the disc hardens and is pushed out of position by a sudden jolt, compressing the spinal cord. It’s why Dachshunds shouldn’t climb stairs, jump into cars or onto furniture. 

Signs of IVDD in Dachshunds: 

  • A curved or hunched back 

  • Limping 

  • Stumbling, dragging their back legs, or even paralysis 

  • Decreased activity levels 

  • A reluctance to shake their body 

  • Incontinence 

  • A difficulty in posturing to urinate or defecate 

IVDD is usually a hereditary condition but can be influenced by environment and lifestyle. Some puppies can be born with the disease but may not show signs until later in life. Although it can be a serious condition, it doesn’t necessarily affect their life expectancy. 

Dachshunds are prone to developing back issues, so try to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Strengthening their back muscles to support their spine through regular exercise can help prevent or manage IVDD. 

Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap) 

Patellar luxation is another common hereditary condition in Dachshunds. Abnormal joint development or misaligned muscles and tendons cause the patella (kneecap) to slip out of place. 

Signs of patellar luxation in Dachshunds: 

  • Leg problems and limping

  • A characteristic skip or hop to avoid putting weight on the affected leg 

4 different grades of patellar luxation identify the severity of the problem.  

Grade 1 identifies a temporary dislocation when pressure is added to the kneecap, while Grade 4 describes a permanent dislocation. Grade 1, can often be tolerated by a dog for some time, but it can lead to arthritis or other joint problems. Grades 2-4 may require surgery to fix the problem. 

Both patellar luxation and IVDD are congenital diseases, so they can’t be avoided. Responsible breeders choose parents that don’t have a history of genetic disorders, but this can’t always guarantee good health. You can always adjust their lifestyle and environment to minimise the stress on their joints and spine. 

Make sure your Dachshund maintains healthy joints with a high-quality diet. 

Look for real, fresh food that supports joint health and contains bioavailable ingredients known for their musculoskeletal-boosting properties, like: 

  • Sardines: A powerful source of Omega 3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory agents to support strong and supple joints. 

  • Quinoa: Contains manganese for bone development. 

  • Fennel Seeds: Rich in antioxidants to reduce the damage to joints caused by oxidative stress. 

Lyka meals contain sardines, fish oil and flaxseed oil that support common joint ailments like luxating patellas, cruciate ligament ruptures and osteochondritis. 

They also include a variety of vegetables and plant superfoods, rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that can assist in protecting joints and joint fluid by decreasing free radicals. 

Keep joints healthy by feeding your Dachshund anti-inflammatory dog food with the right ratio of omega fatty acids. Lyka meals contain an optimal Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio between 2:1 and 3.8:1: much lower than the AAFCO recommended maximum ratio of 30:1, which can be pro-inflammatory. 

2. Obesity 

Dachshunds gain weight easily, especially if they’re not on a portion-controlled diet or don’t get enough exercise. 

Excess weight can add stress and strain to their long backs, their energy levels and their quality of life.

Not sure if your dachshund is a healthy weight? Check out our vet-recommended guide on understanding your dog's weight.

Many parents don’t realise that small amounts of extra food and processed diets can influence their small dog’s weight. 

Maintain your Dachshund's optimal weight with a portion-controlled, complete and balanced diet that keeps them nourished and in excellent shape. 

Include real ingredients in their diet like quality proteins and low GI carbohydrates to maintain steady energy levels and support a healthy weight and body shape, like: 

  • Purple sweet potato: A low-GI carbohydrate option that gradually releases energy to satisfy your pup. 

  • Kangaroo and Chicken: Low-fat, high-quality protein options for healthy weight management. 

  • Kale: Fresh, non-starchy produce with bioavailable nutrients and dietary fibre for healthy digestion and satiety. 

 Pair this with regular walks and playtime to keep them active and healthy. 

Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to monitor their weight and overall health —  early intervention can prevent obesity-related complications, and ensure your Dachshund lives a long, healthy, and happy life.  

Lyka’s customised portions reduce the additional stress on joints by helping to maintain a healthy weight. Our meals are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to reduce inflammation and support joint health. 

— Louise Hawkins, Qualified Vet Nurse at Lyka 

Pepper the Dachshund before and after Lyka

3. Skin issues

Dachshunds are prone to several skin problems like allergies, which can be triggered by environmental factors like pollen, dust, or certain foods, leading to itching, redness, and inflammation.

Some signs of skin issues:

  • Persistent scratching

  • Repeated itching

  • Scaly or crusty skin

  • Redness and rashes

Their low bodies mean they're closer to the ground, which exposes them to grass, dirt, and other irritants, increasing the risk of skin infections.

Soothe your Dachshund's skin inflammation, itchiness and scratching with a balanced diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

A real food diet helps reduce sensitivities by promoting a healthy immune response to allergens and strengthening the skin's defence against irritants.

Look for real ingredients full of skin-soothing properties, like:

  • Hemp seeds: contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 to calm skin irritations.

  • Safflower oil: full of Vitamin E for nourished and moisturised skin.

  • Fish oil: has potent omega-3 to reduce inflamed and dry skin.

4. Behavioural issues 

Dachshunds are small, clever dogs with big personalities and affectionate natures, making them excellent companions and vigilant watchdogs.  

However, some of their desirable characteristics can become behavioural problems. 

Separation anxiety 

Dachshunds are friendly, loyal dogs that love to be around their family. They’re known to create a special bond with one person —  their close attachment to the pack can lead to separation anxiety. 

Separation anxiety is a complex condition that can be triggered by changes to their routine or their family members, house moves, long periods alone, or new parents. 

Common signs of separation anxiety include: 

  • Excessive barking, howling, whining or crying when left alone 

  • Destructive behaviour (digging or chewing) 

  • Salivating, panting or drooling 

  • Trembling 

  • Pacing 

  • Urinating or defecating in the house 

  • Trying to escape 

If you suspect your pup is experiencing separation anxiety, speak to your vet — it’s not an uncommon issue, but it can be tricky to manage. 

Excessive barking 

Dachshunds are vocal with a surprisingly loud and deep bark. Barking is a form of communication to express a warning, boredom, excitement or anxiety — if they want your attention, they’ll tell you! 

Enrichment activities Stimulate your dog’s mind, body and social skills with enrichment activities to prevent boredom and reduce feelings of anxiety.  

Socialising them with other dogs and people from an early age can also reduce their reactivity, making them less likely to bark. 

You can train your Dachshund to reduce their barking through training and positive reinforcement. Try to start this training from a young age. 

Jumping up 

There’s nothing better than an excited welcome home from your loving and loyal pup, but Dachshunds should be discouraged from jumping up as this can cause back problems like herniated discs. 

Try training your dog to greet you by waiting until they’ve settled down and positively reinforcing their calm demeanour by giving them attention and praise. Discourage this behaviour by not engaging with your pup when they jump. 

Aggressive behaviour 

Dachshunds were bred to be feisty and fearless to hunt large badgers with sharp teeth and claws. These instincts are strong and why they’re known to have a big personality for such a small dog. 

You might notice protective behaviour like barking at strange people and dogs and a stubborn will when it comes to obedience. If you notice aggressive behaviour like growling, baring teeth or lunging at other people or dogs, try to address the problem early on. 

 Train your Dachshund by early socialisation with other dogs and humans, and desensitising common triggers like food, treats, toys and leashes to help reduce any unwanted behaviour. Ask your vet for advice —  they can recommend training exercises or the support of a qualified dog trainer or pet behaviourist. 

Did you know that many of the brain’s neurotransmitters affecting mood and behaviour are created in the gut? 

Support your pup’s gut-brain axis with a real food diet that includes ingredients like: 

  • Mushrooms: contain beta-glucan to improve your Dachshund’s microbiome and metabolism. 

  • Spinach: rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that creates serotonin, and folate that produces dopamine — the good mood hormone. 

  • Turmeric: curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, acts as a mood stabiliser. 

 

Why choose Lyka for your Dachshund? 

Developed by Co-founder and Integrative Veterinarian, Dr. Matthew Muir alongside board-certified nutritionists, Lyka meals are made with fresh, real food ingredients to help maintain a healthy weight, support spinal health, and promote better moods. 

Each Lyka meal: 

  • Includes antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce swelling and promote strong and healthy joints. 

  • Contains tasty, nutrient-dense ingredients, like high-quality protein and low-GI carbs for fuller tummies, and is pre-portioned based on your dog’s profile. 

  • Supports microbiome health and creates the perfect environment for mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine to thrive. 

Is your Dachshund ready to feel the difference? 
 

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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