Many of us know the pain of a bad back all too well. From tender spots that pinch when we bend certain ways to the crippling pain that prevents us from being able to complete our day to day activities, there are many different types of back problems. The same can be said for our canine counterparts, who are just as likely to experience back pain as we are.

Unfortunately, our dogs are unable to tell us if they have injured themselves or are in any pain. As such, it is down to us as responsible and observant owners to recognize the signs that something may be wrong.

Symptoms of back pain in dogs

Back pain can present itself in a variety of different ways and sometimes the symptoms may not seem to obviously relate to your dog’s back. Some of the most common signs of a back problem in dogs include:

– Change in posture

– Visible trauma to the spine including swelling and bruising

– Inability or unwillingness to move his head

– Abnormal changes in spine position, such as curvature

– Yelping or crying when touched on the neck or spine

– Inability or unwillingness to move

– Fever

– Weakness or lethargy

Causes of back pain in dogs

There can be many different things that are causing your canine companion to experience back pain. Determining the reason for the discomfort is essential for successful treatment, and only a professional veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis. Some causes of back pain in dogs include:

– Dislocation and fractures

– Degenerative discs

– Infected discs

– Soft tissue injuries

– Inflammation to the spine

– Infection in the spine

– Tumors

– Cancer

Breeds of dog more likely to experience back problems

Unfortunately, some breeds of dog are more likely to develop a condition known as Intervertebral Disc Disease – or IVDD – which causes mild to extreme back pain. In IVDD, the discs that cushion the spine degenerate which causes pain. Breeds of dogs who have a genetic predisposition to this condition include Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Corgis, King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, Bassett Hounds, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, and Beagles.

How to prevent your dog from experiencing back problems

Although there is no guarantee that you can completely prevent back problems in your dog, there are some things that you can do that may reduce the likelihood of them occurring.

Weight management

Excess weight places a great deal of strain on to the spine and consequently, the intervertebral discs. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t take a great deal of additional weight to start causing problems. Therefore, weight management is one of the most important things that you, as a responsible dog owner, can do to look after your pet’s spine.

If you aren’t sure how much your canine pal should be eating, consult with your vet who will be able to make an accurate recommendation based on his breed and age.

Avoid tug’o’war games

Many owners don’t realize that playing tug-of-war with your furry friend can actually place a great deal of strain on his back. Your dog will not only pull the toy towards him, but he will also excitedly twist and turn while leaping about, which could cause him to injure his back. Instead, opt for fetching games which put much less stress on his spine.

If you must lift your dog, keep his back straight

Some owners like to carry their pets. If you pick up your dog, you can minimize the risk of causing back problems by ensuring that you place one hand under his abdomen and one hand under the chest, keeping the spine straight.

Discourage jumping

Although dogs can be extremely excitable, jumping is one of the worst actions for their spine. You should strongly discourage your dog from jumping off and on any surfaces, regardless of whether they are hard or soft. If your pup jumps up to get your attention when you return home, get down to his level as much as possible so that he doesn’t need to stretch to come into contact with you.

To know more about how to take care of your furry companion, contact Best Pets Veterinary Hospital today.