Should my Dachshund not climb stairs?

A frequently asked question is “should I prevent my Dachshund from going up or down stairs?” and what effect will this have on preventing back problems (IVDD)?

The following is from a research study: Occurence of Intervertebral Disc Calcification in the Dachshund [Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Series A, 47 (5): 283-296]

This was a study of the effects of mechanical phenomena (exercise, climbing stairs, hunting, running with bicycle) on the occurence of disc  calcifications. Forty-eight Danish Standard Wirehaired Dachshunds (FCI breed standard, not over 9-10 kilograms,) were selected.  Offspring of imported dogs and frequently used sires were avoided, as were females from heavily bred lines. Dogs were 24-55 months old, clinically healthy and had not been treated for back problems.

Results:

77% of the dogs had calcifications, averaging 4.5 calcifications per dog.  The connection between climbing stairs and calcifications could be considered statistically significant.  It was found that moderate climbing decreases the number of calcifications.  Running alongside a bicycle a couple of times a month increased the number of calcifications, but dogs with this kind of exercise were only 4 of the 48, so the result could also be a coincidence.

Conclusions:

Moderate unleashed exercise and moderate climbing of stairs have a positive effect of the health of the discs.  The reason seems to be the better metabolism of the intervertebral discs.  But, climbing stairs is still a risk for dogs with clearly and strongly calcified discs.

The best advice would seem to be:

Keep your Dachshund fit, healthy and well exercised.  Don’t allow him/her to get overweight.  Avoid the sudden compressive forces on the spine that result from going down stairs wherever possible.

Read more about back problems and IVDD.

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