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Back Pain in Dogs

Learn about the signs of back pain in dogs. Find out about treatment options for back pain in dogs that your Mankato vet can offer to help your dog feel better faster.


Causes of back pain in dogs

If you've ever had neck or back pain, you know how difficult it can make even the smallest movements. Dogs can experience the same pain, but it takes an observant dog owner to spot the signs of pain in their dog's back before it becomes severe.

Neck and back pain in dogs can be more or less categorized into soft tissue injury (e.g.a strained muscle), trauma, IVDD, infseveralisease, and some forms of cancer. Pain in your dog's back could also be caused by a number of infectious diseases, including those spread by ticks and other dangerous parasites.

Symptoms of back pain in dogs

Some common signs that your dog could be suffering from back pain are:

  • Yelping or whimpering during certain motions
  • Muscle spasms or twitches 
  • Rigid stance
  • Arching back
  • Avoidance of movement
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Weakness
  • Inability to look upward
  • Low energy
  • Behavioral changes (e.g. uncharacteristic aggression)
  • Change in appetite (especially if not accompanied by other GI symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting)

If your dog is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet. Your dog is likely in pain and needs professional examination and treatment as soon as possible 

Diagnosis of back pain in dogs 

First, your vet will conduct a thorough physical exam to try to narrow down the source of the dog's pain. The vet may palpate (feel) along the spine and watch closely for signs of pain or discomfort from the patient. Your dog's range of motion will be tested to observe any difficulties or pain moving. 

After the source of the back pain has been identified, your vet will likely recommend tests for conditions such as neurological issues and IVDD (especially if your dog is an at-risk breed). Depending on the particulars of your dog's case, they may also recommend diagnostic procedures including blood work and digital X-rays.

Treatment of back pain in dogs 

No matter the cause of your dog's back and neck pain, one of the first issues to address is pain management. Your veterinarian will choose an appropriate form of pain relief depending on your dog's specific needs and the amount of pain they are experiencing. Some common pain-relief medications our vets may recommend for your pet include:

  • Corticosteroids,
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Animal-safe opioids.
Although many cases can be treated by vet-prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and recuperation time - never try to treat your dog with over-the-counter medication designed for humans, as it can be toxic to dogs and could be fatal. 

Surgical and Non-surgical Optionseveralment

The treatment method that best addresses your dog's back pain will depend on a number of factors. Ultimately, the final decision comes down to your dog's best interests and discussions between yourself and your veterinarian. While some underlying conditions such as serious muscle tears or strains, cancerous growths, or issues affecting the spine may require surgical intervention in conjunction with other medicines and treatments, your vet team always wants the least invasive, stressful treatment method for you and your canine companion. 

Specialized non-surgical treatment methods such as veterinary chiropractic treatments offer your dog a chance for relief with a gentle, non-invasive, and chemical-free way to encourage healing and recuperation from painful joint and muscle conditions or illnesses. 

Your vet may also recommend changes in diet and exercise to avoid extra weight that can put further stress on dogs with back pain. The goal is for you and your vet team to be able to help your dog live a longer, happier life with preventive care, pain management, and appropriate treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you notice your dog appears to have back issues contact our Mankato vets, for a diagnosis. 

Compassionate Veterinary Care

At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Mankato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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