January 11, 2022

How To Help a Dog with Back Pain

Believe it or not, dogs can suffer from back pain. Like us, the pain can cause mobility issues and interfere with their daily lives. Back pain isn't fun for anyone, but for dogs - who cannot tell you their back hurts, it's essential to recognize the signs and symptoms so you can help! We will go through all the tell-tale signs of back pain in dogs and share what to do and how to help them.

Signs/Symptoms of Back Pain

We always look for signs in dogs to help determine if their back is hurting them. Even if you don't suspect your dog has back pain, it is good to be aware and watch for anything unusual! Our tell-tale signs of back pain in dogs are:

  • A constant hunched, stiff position
  • Inability to relax or find a comfortable position
  • Having mobility issues such as limping, lack of control or coordination, dragging legs, etc. 
  • Shaking legs or muscle spasms 
  • Showing signs of pain like whimpering, crying, or barking when their back is touched
  • Struggling to get up 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Visible signs of pain like bruises or scratches on their back

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, the best course of action is to take them to your vet! The best thing you can do for your dog with back pain is to help catch their symptoms early on and consult your vet for next steps. 

Causes of Back Pain in Dogs

There are many different reasons dogs can develop back pain, most being out of our control. Like us, back pain can be caused by a ruptured disc in the spinal cord, a muscle tear, too much strain or force, and more. The most common dog back pain causes are:

  • Age - as dogs get older, their age affects their body and can cause many different health issues. With age, their bones, muscles and joints get a little weaker and can cause back pain from lack of strength to support their spine or their other bones getting weaker. 

  • Injuries - Similar to us, dogs can accidently move the wrong way and cause back pain to themselves. This is typically more mild, but accidents and injuries can happen that cause back pain. 

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease - IVDD is the most common cause of dog back pain. This happens when the dog's spinal cord is damaged and causes pain over time. This is common in dogs with long spines like Dachshunds, pugs, corgis, etc. 

  • Arthritis - Arthritis is very common in older dogs, but it can affect dogs of all ages. Arthritis can cause pain in joints and bones and if it happens to affect any bones on or near the spine, it can create dog back pain. 

  • Inflammatory disorders - acute or chronic inflammatory conditions, such as IBD and Canine distemper can cause pain anywhere in a dog's body, including their spine. 

  • Trauma - Larger accidents and trauma can also cause back pain in your dog. 

What Can I Give My Dog for Back Pain & Remedies/Medications

If you suspect or notice back pain in your dog, the first thing to do is to take them to your vet for a consultation. They will be able to provide a treatment plan catered to you and your dog and likely provide a prescribed anti-inflammatory for the pain. Besides your vet, there are other things you can do on your own to help as well. Once you have a diagnosis, one of the best things is to take your dog to a Dog Chiropractor. It is not super popular and may or may not be difficult to find one in your area - but it is also one of the best things you can do to truly help with back pain.

In terms of home remedies, you can incorporate dog exercises in your daily routine to help build muscle that helps support their back. Your vet will be able to give guidance on types of exercise and when you can start this process. In addition, there are natural at-home remedies like CBD that can help with pain. They may not be enough if your dog is suffering from extreme pain, but if you are noticing very mild pain or just soreness then CBD infused treats or oils may be enough to help relieve some pain and help them relax. 

How to Carry a Dog With Back Pain

If you notice extreme back pain in your dog and are ready to take them to the vet, we want to help ensure you do so carefully and without injuring your dog more. In order to get them to the vet, you may need to help carry them or even lift them. To properly lift your dog, you will want to support both the front and rear of your dog and try to keep their spine in a neutral position. 

One option (best for larger dogs) is to pick them up by placing your arms under their back leg knees (pushing their legs into their chest) and under their chest. You will be holding them under your arms at both their front and rear to support their spine. 

Another option (best for smaller dogs) is to slip one arm under their tail and place your arm through their legs and hold onto their chest from under. Use your other hand to support from under and lift straight up, supporting their front and rear. The most important thing is to support both ends, keep their spine neutral, and be sure to place them back down, the same way you picked them up! And be gentle and slow. 

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