By Nicole Etolen

Obesity can cause problems for any dog breed, but it’s particularly problematic for the dachshund. The iconic breed is well-known and beloved for its long body and short legs. Unfortunately, that same trademark frame can lead to painful- and potentially fatal- problems when it carries around too much excess weight. Take a look at some of their most common health conditions that are exacerbated by obesity. Then keep reading for some holistic ways to keep dachshunds in shape.

Common Dachshund Health Problems Exacerbated by Obesity

According to the Dachshund Club of America, an estimated 25% of all doxies will suffer from back problems at some point in their lives, with Intervertebral Disk Disease topping the list of conditions. In fact, dachshunds receive the IVDD diagnosis more than any other dog breed.

This hereditary condition causes herniated disks in your dachshund’s lower back and can cause severe pain. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the first things vets recommend for helping to avoid back problems. The catch? Dachshunds are also naturally prone to obesity. In fact, you’ll find them on Banfield Pet Hospital’s list of breeds with the highest risk of obesity.

Adding even more insult to injury, doxies also have a high incidence of Cushing’s disease, a condition that causes increased appetite and weight gain, among other symptoms.

Last, but equally worrisome, the breed has a higher than average risk of developing a heart valve condition called degenerative mitral valve disease. Once again, vets strongly recommend keeping a close eye on your doxie’s weight to prevent his heart from working too hard.

As you can see, keeping dachshunds in shape isn’t absolutely vital to their well-being, even more so than many other breeds. So, how can you do that holistically? The tips below will help.

Holistic Tips for Keeping Dachshunds in Shape

Taking a holistic approach to keeping your dachshund in shape means looking at his body and well-being as a whole, rather than just homing in on solving one particular problem. While these holistic methods are safe – and actually encouraged – for most dachshunds, it’s vital to talk to your vet before changing your dog’s lifestyle.

Diet

Just like with humans, diet plays a significant role in maintaining your dachshund’s healthy weight. When it comes to choosing the right diet for your dog, one size doesn’t fit all. Some opt to feed their dogs a strictly grain-free kibble diet. Others choose wet food. Still others go the homemade route. Discuss your dog’s nutrition with an expert, then find the right food to meet his needs.

Choosing the right food is only the first half of using diet to keep your dachshund in shape, though. Feeding him just the right among is the bigger half of the battle. It’s hard to resist those sad doxie eyes peering at you longingly as you eat a sandwich or begging for just one more treat. It’s all too easy to think, “What can a little bite of pizza hurt?” or “What’s the big deal if he gets one extra dog cookie?” In truth, it is a big deal and it can hurt a lot.

The average dachshund weighs roughly 25 pounds, give or take (males can weigh up to 32, with females as little as 16). Based on a vet-approved calorie calculator for dogs, a 25-lb dog needs about 600 calories per day. Most of that should come from his food, with about 60 calories allowed for treats. Forget for a moment that table foods aren’t ideal for dogs, period. A single bite of pizza can eat up more than half of his treat allowance. Bottom line, choose a plan, count the calories, and stick to it, even if your doxie turns those puppy dog eyes on full force.

Exercise

Many new dachshund owners make the mistake of thinking that because their dog is so petite, he doesn’t really need as much exercise as the big guys. In truth, dachshunds need about 60 minutes of exercise a day. Experts recommend an exercise regime that includes both on-leash walking and off-leash play time.

Since, like humans, dogs tend to eat when they’re bored, you’ll want to mix in plenty of mentally stimulating games as well. Try creating fun obstacle courses out of boxes or blocks and training your dachshund to run through them. Teaser poles are also fun for both you and your dog.

Keep in mind that too much – or the wrong kind of – exercise can be just as harmful as too little. Don’t overdo it, especially if your doxie is older or already has back problems. Avoid exercises that require excessive climbing or jumping, as they can hasten the onset of back problems or worsen existing issues.

Supplements

When used correctly, supplements can go a long way towards helping to keep dachshunds in shape. However, please remember that even the most seemingly innocuous supplement can be harmful under certain conditions. For example, if your dog is already taking medications or other vet-recommended supplements, run any new ideas by her first.

Some of the most popular supplements for dachshunds include:

  • Salmon oil for skin and coat. Also supports nerve function.
  • CBD oil for pain related to IVDD.
  • Turmeric to help with inflammation.
  • Glucosamine for healthy joints.
  • Probiotics to aid digestion.

Again, please talk to your vet (or holistic pet medical practitioner) before giving your dog any supplements. Supplements should be just that – something that adds to your dog’s overall diet and lifestyle. In other words, never use them to replace good nutrition.

With proper care and diligence regarding weight, your dachshund can live up to 16 years or longer. These tips for keeping dachshunds in shape will help both of you make the most of those years.

References:
AKC Dachshund Profile
7 Ways to Treat and Prevent Back Problems in Dachshunds
Back Pain in Both Master and Dog, Swedish Research Shows
Dachshund Club of America Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
Supplements for Active and Senior Dachshunds as Well as Those Recovering From IVDD

Author Bio
Nicole Etolen, an editor and staff writer at Alpha Trained Dog, is a lifelong pet lover with a passion for helping others live long and happy lives with their beloved canine companions.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
30+ Natural Supplements to Treat and Prevent Arthritis in Dogs
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