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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My 15 month old mini dachshund male, in tact, is suddenly

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Hi, My 15 month old mini dachshund male, in tact, is suddenly listless and sniffing at his anal/tail area. He has been very healthy, there has been no trauma, and has had normal bowel movements up through this morning. But he started walking strangely and is now shivering, too. He weighs about 8 pounds, and has been eating like usual. I tossed his ball around to get him interested, and he chased it a little, but really just wants to sleep. Thoughts?

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

I'm sorry for this concern for Charlie. I do have a few additional questions to ask about him first if you don't mind:

1. Can you take his temperature?

2. Can you tell me the color of his gums?

3. When was the last time he had a meal? I wouldn't expect all of his symptoms to be entirely consistent with low blood sugar but it's such a common problem in these small breeds, it may be helpful to go ahead and offer him about a teaspoon of honey or pancake syrup while we communicate. If he doesn't want to eat it, then rub it on his gums and tongue so that he has to swallow it.

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I just wanted to add that I am not a neurotic pet mom, but I noticed this morning at about 8:30 AM that he was off. My husband and I were out for a few hours and there was no improvement. His gums are pink, and I am not sure how to take a dog's temperature--anal or oral? Normal thermometer? He just got up and came over to me and is sitting by me on our sofa.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He ate last night. About 20 hours ago. We feed him once a day, and then let him nibble on his food throughout the day as he wishes. It usually works brilliantly, but maybe we should do it otherwise?

Good to know that you're not neurotic but it would be fine if you were:) It sounds to be as if you're just a very observant individual which is the best kind of pet owner.

As to taking his temperature, if you have a a rectal thermometer (any human one will do except for the ones you put in the ear), lubricate it with Vaseline or K/Y Jelly or a bit of cooking oil, insert it gently into the rectum about one inch and wait for it to beep (if the digital kind), otherwise leave it in for one minute.

Definitely give him some honey or pancake syrup. 20 hours is too long for such a small dog to go between meals. It might be best to modify the way you feed him; perhaps 2-3 regularly scheduled meals to keep his blood sugar better stabilized.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, he won't even lick the honey at all. not at all interested. not sure he likes it to begin with, but I never tried. We do not give him treats usually, either. He has been eating the same types of food, no other issues, and is fully up to date on all his shots and check ups.

I'm not entirely certain that this is the problem but it will be good to rule it out.

If he won't eat the honey, then rub it on his gums. It might be a little messy, but he should ingest enough which will be absorbed.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I will try to rub it into his gums. I agree with the food thing...My husband thinks the once a day routine is good, but I am not that happy with it. BUT, really, he has been perfectly fine all along and has never acted like this at all ever. I do not think we have a thermometer at all.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Neighborhood kids just stopped by and the dog perked up a little....maybe he needs prozac? Just joking....
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am always worried about the whole mini-dachshund vertebral issue--you know, they are notorious for having these issues where suddenly they cannot walk...we live sort of in the country in Virginia and the closest ER vet is not too close.

I understand why it might seem odd that low blood sugar would be an issue when he's never had a problem before (and it may not be) but it's such a common problem in these small dogs that it's always in my mind as a possible reason for lethargy and/or balance issues and/ or shivering.

I don't think he's faking it if that's what you're implying:)

But I do think there are a few possible explanations for his behavior which range from the innocuous to perhaps something more serious... especially if we can rule out hypoglycemia

1. As strange as it sounds, I have seen some dogs with anal glands behave as you describe especially since he was licking/sniffing his anal area. If you are not familiar with these glands, this LINK discusses them in detail.
Some dogs are extremely bothered when these glands fill up which causes pressure on their bodies and will continue to do so until they are emptied. Although a groomer can provide this service for you, they usually attempt to empty the glands externally. The better method is done rectally which is how a vet tech or your vet would empty them.
Many of these dogs are reluctant to jump, they hold their bodies in an awkward way (trying to minimize pressure on their bodies), and frequently will hold their tails down. When the tail is up, more pressure is exerted.

2. Problems with the spine as you suggested, especially given his breed. He's a little on the young side for Intervertebral Disc Disease but it's still possible, I suppose.

3. He could be running a fever. If you manage to get your hands on a thermometer, normal is between 100 and 102.5. Of course, then we'd have to wonder about the source of the elevated temperature....bacterial or viral infections or tick diseases are possibilities.

If he's not responding to the honey in about 10-15 minutes, then hypoglycemia isn't likely to be the problem. In the absence of a thorough physical exam or a rectal, he could be given Aspirin which could help with inflammation, pain and a fever.

The dose would be 82 mg (low dose) twice a day, with food to avoid stomach upset. My only hesitation about its use would be that it might interfere with what your vet would want to prescribe if he has to be seen. But several doses should be fine.

If he continues to behave this way or worsens, then a vet visit might be prudent. Deb

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, Thank you for all these ideas. Indeed, it could very well be the anal gland issue and I will check that area for swelling and such. I also will go to the local pharmacy to get a thermometer in a bit. We will give him his usual food in a moment and see how he does with that. My vet is not open on Sunday, but there are plenty nearby that seem to be. If he does not improve by morning I will go to a vet nearby. My concern is what might happen overnight, etc. As for potential bites from ticks, we have a really good collar on him for that from our vet, and we check him all the time, too. He also takes a heart worm/flea pill once a month, which he got about 7 days ago, so he is good with that. Maybe I am just worried....but I love my dog, of course, and he has been such a sweetie! I am sure you get it! :-)

You're more than welcome.

Yes, I completely do understand how worried you are about him but at this point, I don't think it's anything too serious from the sounds of it.

Unless his anal glands are infected, you're not likely to see any swelling or abnormalities; usually a rectal needs to be done.

As to possible tick diseases, I live in New England and I see symptomatic dogs all the time where the owners never, ever have found a tick on their dogs; they also use all of the best tick never say never:)

Keep me posted if you have a chance; I'd like to know what his temperature is and how he's doing. Unfortuantely, I have to step away from my computer right now to assist a neighbor with health issues but I'll log back on later and respond back to you if you've posted before I do.

I'll be sending positive thoughts his way:) Deb

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I cannot detect any swelling in his anal gland area, but I am not at all a vet. I think I will just keep an eye on him and if he remains listless I will take him to the vet on Sunday or Monday.. Thank you for your help. This is a cool website! By the way, I am a New England girl, too! I come from Connecticut, the land of the lyme disease! I will keep you posted and you have been a dear! Best, Aprile


Glad you're happy with the site and service and thanks for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

Even though you've rated, we can still communicate about this issue at no additional charge to you so I'll look forward to an update.

Yes, lyme disease and other tick disease are rampant here in New England, unfortunately:( I wish that weren't the case.

Take care, Deb

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Deb! I am just now figuring this website out....I will keep you posted on my wienie!


Looks like you've figured it out pretty well to me:)

Best of luck with Charlie.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Dr. Deb, I wanted to update you on my Charlie. He now has a sore on his buttocks, just a little below the anal opening. Based upon my readings, it may be that his gland ruptured overnight and he has been licking it, etc. It is raw and about the circumference of a dime. I will definitely take him to our regular vet on Monday, unless you think I should do it urgently today. He is not eating yet, despite trying. He is also lethargic, though, is able to walk and such. I think at this point he just feels sore and weak from lack of nutrition. If you could add thoughts on this I would appreciate it! Best wishes, Aprile in Virginia


Thanks for the update on Charlie. I agree with you that it sounds as if he has an anal gland abscess. I wouldn't consider this to be an ER type of situation even though I'm certain that he's uncomfortable.

I don't know if you gave him Aspirin or not but it might help with any discomfort he's feeling and with the inflammation that I know is present. Of course, if he's not eating, then he may vomit the drug (since I usually advise its use with food to avoid stomach upset).

I'd offer him people food such as boiled chicken or lean hamburg to see if you can get him eating. Most dogs with anal gland abscesses aren't lethargic but if he's running a mild fever, this might explain his lack of energy and appetite issues.

You could also apply a warm compress to the area for 5-10 minutes, several times a day, which may help him feel better.

And/or gently clean the area with dilute over the counter Betadine or Iodine (to the color of weak tea).

Once the area dries, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to the area if he'll permit it.

Try to prevent access to the area since his licking may make it worse; he may need to wear a cone although I know he won't thank me for suggesting it!

I dispense antibiotics for my patients with this issue although every vet does practice differently, of course.

At least it now sounds as if we know the source of his behavior yesterday. Please continue to keep me posted about him:) Deb

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Deb, THANK YOU! All excellent advice and I will try what you suggest. I will report later. His nose is dry, so he may feel icky from an infection. My little sweetie.


My pleasure; glad to help you both:)

I'll look forward to updates. Deb

I'm just following up on our conversation about Charlie. How is everything going?
Dr. Deb