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I decided to write about the Dachshund because I feel this dog deserves the notoriety, as it is one of the best representations of what is possible when chiropractic care is integrated with the care you currently receive from your veterinarian.
Thank you for sharing an interest in what I consider to be the most fascinating species on the planet, the dog. The purpose of this article is to discover a natural approach in the care and prevention of disease of our pets - animal chiropractic. Although this article makes reference to the Dachshund, the same principles apply to all dogs, cats, horses, and literally every other four-legged mammal.
Dachshunds, like many other breeds, were modified from their original functional proportions to the dysfunctional proportions you see below.
pets in motion animal chiropractic
the best care of your pets
animal chiropractic: a natural approach to the care and prevention of disease in pets
Dr. Craig Landry, DC, COAC
The dachshund, or “wiener-dog”, made its debut in Germany in the 16th century. Like most dogs of this time period, the dachshund was selectively bred to have unique proportions and characteristics that enabled it to perform tasks related to human recreational endeavours. In the dachshund’s case, its job was to get deep within an animal’s burrow, drag out the residing critter, and kill it. These small animals were most commonly badgers; therefore the dog was given the name ‘dachshund’ (dachs = badger, hund = dog). In order to carry out this daunting task, the dachshund had to be fearless and somewhat ‘cylindrical’ in proportion; small enough to get into the confines of a burrow, with the strength and tenacity needed to overthrow its prey.
It is natural to think that the dachshund’s long appearance is the result of having a longer spine, but this is simply untrue. As a matter of fact, all dogs have the same number of vertebra in their spines: 7 Cervical, 13 Thoracic, and 7 Lumbar, and all are in relative proportion to one another. So if their spines are of normal length, what else could explain this ‘wiener-like’ appearance? The answer may surprise you.
Dachshunds are bred to have a genetic condition known as Anchondroplasia, which most people know as Dwarfism. There are in fact dozens of dwarf-breeds, including the Shih Tzu, Corgi, Pekinese, French bulldog, and Basset hound, to name a few. As with human dwarves, these dogs have a relatively normal sized spine with disproportionally short and slightly bowed extremities.
from functional wolves, to functional dogs, to fashionable dogs…
Approximately 15,000 years ago, humans began to form friendships with tame wolves, and vice versa. Fast-forward to ancient Mesopotamia (7,000 – 6,000 B.C.), widely considered the birthplace of civilization, and we discover that dogs played a key role in their daily society. They were kept in the home and considered family, as they are today. These early dogs consisted mainly of the ancient Greyhounds and the larger Mastiffs and Danes. These dogs were honoured in the form of drawings and sculptures, often depicted at the feet of goddesses. Interestingly, the origin of the word ‘dog’ remains one of the greatest mysteries of English etymology. Some etymologists believe the word ‘Dog’ did not evolve organically, but is actually a semi-palindrome of the word ‘God’.
Now lets fast-forward to the Dachshund. Up until this point in history, dog breeding was centred on creating functional dogs. Whether it was hunting, tracking, pointing, retrieving, or guarding; designing a dog with function in mind ensured the best possible biomechanics for that specific task. It wasn’t until the onset of the industrial revolution that the Victorian middle-class started to lose touch with their relationship with the dog. Dogs were now considered a fashion statement, and more revered for their physical appearance rather than their natural abilities. This new hobby, known as “Dog Fancy”, resulted in an explosion of new dog breeds. The Victorians also began to re-design many of the pre-existing working breeds to look more ‘aesthetically pleasing’. This caused a rapid shift from breeding ‘task-oriented’ functional dogs to ‘fashionable’ dysfunctional dogs, as little to no attention was given to what implications these changes would have on their long-term health.
how all this relates to animal chiropractic.
The Dachshund’s tiny extremities significantly impact the way forces are distributed throughout their body. Normally, dogs are able to absorb much of the biomechanical forces of movement in their extremities, which in effect decreases the forces on the spinal joints themselves. The disproportionally short extremities of dwarf breeds are unable to efficiently absorb enough of these biomechanical forces, therefore increasing the mechanical stress on the spinal joints. These dysfunctional biomechanics is precisely why these dogs are predisposed to Disc Herniations and early Degenerative Disc Disease. Approximately 85% of these disc problems occur at an area of the mid-back known as the ‘Thoraco-lumbar’ region. A region of the spine that is prone to chronic injury in all breeds but is especially pathological in these ‘dwarf’ dogs.
The Thoraco-lumbar region experiences increased biomechanical stress for 2 simple reasons. 1) This is where the spinal joint surfaces abruptly change direction, from the more horizontal shape of the thoracic joints to the more vertical shape of the lumbar joints. 2) The biomechanics above and below this region are very different; as a result this area experiences constant sheer force as it tries its best to accommodate the two different movement patterns. This constant sheer force is inevitably absorbed by the surrounding joints and soft tissues and is responsible for causing conditions such as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), and Disc Herniation. It is important to understand that these conditions are progressive disorders, meaning they occur gradually over time as a result of dysfunctional joint mobility. Your dog will never herniate a disc out-of-the-blue.
animal chiropractic can help improve the quality of life of all pets.
Animal Chiropractic is a natural form of pet rehabilitation that involves very gentle, yet highly specific, adjustments to your pet’s spine and extremities. This helps to naturally restore proper joint mobility, which in turn improves range of motion, restores proper biomechanics, decreases inflammation, improves nervous system function, and therefor improves your pet’s state of health.
There are many reasons why joints become dysfunctional. Some are related to acute trauma or repetitive asymmetric movement patterns, while others are caused by congenital conditions, transitional areas of the spine, and the unavoidable degeneration that occurs with aging. These particular joints will have restricted movement due to joint irritation and the body’s natural inflammatory response to such irritation. If the problem becomes bad enough, the inflammation and joint structures can begin to compress the nerves that exit the spinal column, and even compress the spinal cord itself. The affects of this can range from something as benign as a slight limp or weakness, to decreased balance and muscular strength, to incontinence and complete neurological paralysis.
It's important for us to educate ourselves on the health issues that affect our pets, to explore natural ways of improving their health, and empower ourselves to take an active role in their well-being. Accepting that they have a mobility issue and controlling their inflammation with medication, or waiting until things get so bad that they require surgery, is NOT the answer!