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Dog back pain: identifying back problems in dogs

Have you noticed anything strange about your dog’s walk recently?

Do they seem wobbly or reluctant to move?

They could be suffering from back pain.

Back pain is often a consequence of existing illnesses or health problems, and some breeds are more prone to it than others. Dachshunds, for example, are more prone to back problems because of their exceptionally long back and small legs.

Symptoms of dog back pain

Symptoms will vary from dog to dog, but it’s a good idea to contact your vet if you spot:

  • A change in your dog’s gait or posture
  • Arching of the spine
  • General stiffness or reluctance to move
  • Bruises or other irregularities on or around the spine
  • Sudden and unexplained yelps of pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Apparent dizziness or general lethargy

What causes back problems in dogs?

Causes of back pain vary widely, so it’s important to allow your vet to examine your dog thoroughly so they can pinpoint the specific cause of pain.

The root cause is likely to be one of three:

  • Movement/irregularity of the discs within the spine
  • A problem with the muscles surrounding the spine
  • Sustained trauma – this could be anything from kidney disease to a fracture or dislocation caused by an accident

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When you visit the vet with your dog, they’ll perform a full examination. As part of this, they may ask about your dog’s symptoms: how long they’ve been present, are they sporadic or continuous, has it put them off their food etc.

The more information you can provide, the better idea your vet will have – so it’s important to remain vigilant at all times, especially if your dog has sustained an injury that may affect their back.

Once the vet has correctly diagnosed your dog, they’ll commence with treatment. Treatment will depend on many things, such as the cause of your dog’s pain and the severity of their symptoms. In some cases, treatment will focus entirely on the back and neck; in others, such as when dog back pain has been caused by infection, vets will look at treating the underlying cause.

Read more: Hydrotherapy for dogs

Need more info?

For more help and guidance on back problems in dogs, and the conditions which may cause back pain, have a chat with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.