Just wondering as I am reading about all the beagles with back and neck problems is there any way to minimize the chances of this happening or is all an inherited risk? I know that maybe weight is a factor but is there anything else to be careful about?
Well, what can be done, which we didn't do, is this. Teach them early not to jump up on people. Don't let them jump up and down from the bed and furniture. And like you said, watch their weight. Actually, I am not sure if these things would prevent disk problems. Sometimes they just happen. We don't know how Sadie herniated her disk. She has always been a wild little girl Beagle that loves to run and jump and play and chase squirrels and run scent trails in the back yard. We have about 2 more weeks to keep her as inactive as possible. She is doing better.
Yes, make sure to use a well fited harnes and never a collar and NEVER one of these gentle leader or halties which holds the dog by the nose.
When playing with your dog, do not throw the toy high so the dog runs with his neck in a normal position and does not jump. Avoid frizbis. Rolling balls are a good excercise.
When tugging with your dog, always leave the dog do the tugging. Just hold the toy. Tugging left to right or vice versa is safe, but never tug up and down.
Dogs should not be allowed to jump DOWN from a hight higher than a sofa as an adult, and until 1 year of age, never higher than their elbows.
Keep in mind that disk problem is genetic and breed specific. Abiding by these rule will diminished drastically the chance for your dog to suffer from this problem but cannot garanty it.
We did ask the vet that when Booker had her problems - the vet basically said that sme beagles just have "bad" disks and notwithstanding that you can and should do all of the things suggested here to try to avoid problems (and definitely do them if you know your dog has issues in this regard), chances are if they are predisposed to having slipped or ruptured disks, they will have problems at some point in their lives... but keeping their weight down and keeping them from jumping all go towards minimizing the risks of flare-ups (or, if they happen, making them less severe).
After Maggie experienced pain in her back, my vet mentioned that jumping down (off a bed, for example)has much more negative impact than jumping up. This makes sense as you can almost visualize the discs compressing on the down jump. I have read that dogs with long backs, i.e., daschunds, beagles and basset hounds, are much more prone to degenerative disc disease. I was much relieved after x-rays showed no disease process in Maggie's back although she is not immune to other back/disc problems. I can only recommend that training a dog not to jump start at an early age -- I am having a very difficult time teaching this to Maggie in her senior years.