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Back Pain In Dogs – Symptoms & Treatments

Back Pain In Dogs

What are the problems of Back Pain In Dogs?

The bond between dogs and humans runs deeper than you might think. We have all, perhaps, experienced some kind of a back pain, at some point in our lives. It is not a big surprise to hear that it affects dogs too.

Back pain in dogs is something that is easily overlooked. It is important to identify the signs of back pain in dogs because they cannot tell us about the ‘bad back’, moreover the signs can be easily misinterpreted as some other disorders.

There are several reasons for back pain in dogs - from the very common, minor strains and sprains to serious conditions like spondylosis and intervertebral disc disease.

The problem is, how can we help our dogs with ‘bad backs’ or can we?

Symptoms Of Back Pain In Dogs

  • Mobility problems such as dragging, limping, Incoordination, etc
  • Stiff, hunched, or arched position
  • A change in gait, wobbly gait- hind limbs
  • Holding their head low and stiff
  • When back is touched (whining, crying, barking)
  • Muscle spasms or Shaking legs
  • Reluctance to move and standing/sitting rigid
  • Reluctance to engage in activity
  • Mood or behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment Options For Back Pain In Dogs

Back problems can range from difficulty to debilitating and can occur 'out of the blue' or gradually. So the back pain treatment will depend on the underlying conditions such as disorders of the back and spine.

Anti-inflammatory drugs: this is to quickly relieve back pain (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids).

For many of these conditions, such as spinal fractures and certain types of IVDD, and even some severe cases of arthritis, surgery might be necessary for successful treatment.

Cold laser therapy (low-level laser therapy) will enhance your dog's natural ability to speed up the healing process.

The ultrasound method (sound waves) is perfect to ease pain in areas that are more difficult to reach. Sound waves increase the flow of blood in the area and reduce inflammation as well as back pain.

Other conditions, such as mild cases of arthritis and muscle strains, may get more benefit from alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and therapeutic massage. Of course, anti-inflammatory medications will be used to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Back pain due to severe injuries, ruptured discs, degenerative myelopathy, etc., are not curable but may be manageable with the use of therapeutic tools and medications.

Home Remedies For Back Pain In Dogs

1. Appetize the dog food: stimulate dog's appetite with attractive foods for dogs that lost their appetite. Adding chunks of meat such as lamb or chicken helps to stimulate their appetite. Adding some warm broth to their food (homemade broth is ideal) also stimulates the appetite.

2. A dog with a 'bad back' will need more specialized foods than normal to help bolster its back. For example, dogs with injuries will need extra protein, dogs with aging-related problems will need more fiber and dehydrated dogs will need wet food.

3. Make sure to provide an environment conducive to your dogs recovery:

  • Minimize your dog's movement that can strain their back.
  • Small Dogs with back pain can be placed in smaller rooms or crates. Large dogs can be confined to a comfortable room downstairs or in the backyard with food and water sources nearby.
  • Carpets and rubber mats will reduce the chances of your dog slipping.
  • Make them Lose weight if they are overweight.
  • Restrain your dogs from jumping up, using stairs, and other things that aggravate the pain.

How to Prevent Back Pain In Dogs?

Obviously, optimizing your pet’s back health should be the top priority for preventing back pain from happening in the first place.

Diet: nutritionally balanced, wholesome diet formulated for the dog’s size and lifestyle.

Weight: maintenance of ideal weight for the dog.

Exercise: right amount of exercise, low intensity exercise such as hydrotherapy.

Supplements: joint, bone and spine supplements.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Back Pain

Basset Hound, Dachshund, French Bulldog, Pug, King Charles Spaniel, Bulldog, Corgi, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Beagle.

Dog breeds that are genetically predisposed to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) are likely to experience Back pain.

Chondrodystrophic dogs can suffer from serious and crippling back pain.

Some larger breeds such as Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd and Doberman Pinscher, and others like Boxer, and Airedale Terrier seem to be over-represented.

Additional Facts For Back Pain In Dogs

Chondrodystrophic dogs (with short legs and long backs) such as Dachshunds, Beagles, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, etc., are the most prone.

Their body type makes it such that they generally put more strain on their back resulting in Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).

Other reasons for back pain in dogs are slipped disc, spondylitits, spinal trauma, spinal arthritis, pulled muscle, strains, sprains.

Degenerative myelopathy, meningitis, Inflammatory disorders, pinched nerves, injuries, etc.,

Acute onset back pain is encountered with obvious signs. Rarely we discover Chronic back pain in initial stages as it usually causes more subtle changes. Pets also have ample time to adjust to increasing levels of pain.

When To See A Vet For Back Pain In Dogs?

When you suspect your dog is experiencing some sort of back pain, prompt veterinary attention is recommended.

They will conduct a thorough physical exam to localize the source of pain.

Dog Food Suggestions For Back Pain

The Best Foods for back pain recovery.

A pudgy pooch may look adorable but it is not good for its back and spine. Extra weight will sabotage its back and increase the risk of many other diseases.

Maintaining a normal body weight is the most important dietary recommendation.

Nutrition guidelines you may like to consider:

  • 40% protein - animal meat, seafood, dairy, eggs.
  • 50% fresh vegetables.
  • 10% carbohydrates - brown rice, Barley(pearled), grains.
  • Fatty acids - cooked egg yolks, plant oils, sunflower, corn.
  • Avoid trans fat, a small amount of beef fat, and steak fat.
  • Calcium - powdered or crushed eggshells, supplements.
  • Antioxidant foods.

What we recommend:

  1. No commercial diet with highly processed grains.
  2. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens.
  3. Antioxidants berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.,
  4. Brightly colored fruits/ vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins(vitamin A).
  5. Oily fish like Cod, Herring, Lake trout, Sardine, Salmon, and Mackerel(omega-3 fatty acids).
  6. Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.,(vitamin D, calcium).
  7. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts(calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin E).
  8. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements, green-lipped mussels.


Back pain restricts your dog from living their life to the fullest. Identification of back pain in dogs can be challenging, sometimes even for veterinarians.

However, early detection and a tailored treatment plan relieve back pain and in most cases, this prevents the progression of any underlying condition to irreversible or a more serious state.

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