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Dear Daisy Dog

My 5-year-old dachshund periodically gets muscle spasms. Is there anything I can do for him?

Daisy Responds

If the muscle spasms are along his back, he may have intervertebral disc (IVD) disease.

Between the vertebrae (the bones of the spine) are discs that act like cushions. As the discs age, they break down and sometimes bulge against the spinal cord.

The resulting pressure on the spinal cord causes pain and decreased function.

Depending on the severity, clinical signs may include back spasms and pain (like you humans feel with a pinched nerve), reluctance to walk, arched back, scuffing the hind feet, weakness, wobbly hind legs, bladder or bowel problems, or even paralysis of the hind legs.

IVD disease can attack any breed but targets dachshunds most frequently. Other breeds commonly affected are the basset hound, beagle, Pekingese and cocker spaniel.

While most dogs with IVD disease begin to show signs in middle age, dachshunds often are affected earlier, usually at three to six years of age. Onset may be gradual or abrupt.

It’s important to have your veterinarian determine the cause of your dachshund’s muscle spasms. Then your vet can recommend treatment, which will certainly include medications or acupuncture to relieve your dog’s pain and muscle spasms.

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