Dog back problems

There are numerous problems a dog can have with its back. A common problem in certain breeds is a 'slipped disc' which would normally require surgery and rehabilitation for a number of months after. Another problem may be a narrowing of the spinal canal (the space where the spinal cord runs through) technically called spondylosis, this may cause a compression of the spinal cord and affect the limbs. Other potential issues include spinal strokes, spinal fractures, subluxations, and tumours to name a few.


One really common cause of back pain is actually not coming from the back itself but is a secondary issue due to another joint problem. For example if your dog has a problem with its right hip, it will try to take the weight off this joint and shift more onto the left, this alters your dog's movement and can place pressure through the back, muscles will be working in a different capacity and tension may build up. If your dog has a shoulder problem they are often sore between the shoulder blades due to a similar shift in weight bearing.

How can physio help?

Depending on the cause of the back pain, physiotherapy will be adapted to try to minimise your dog's pain and strengthen the appropriate muscles.  When in pain, lots of muscles can be overactive and cause a dog to 'tighten up' which may limit movement and lead to further issues. The muscles alongside the back can become sore, so soft tissue release and massage may be given and low level laser therapy can be used to help with any specific sore points.


Many dogs with back pain will have poor abdominal (belly) control, this is needed to help support the back, especially in your long backed short legged breeds such as Dachshunds. Exercises to get these muscles working will normally be given and progressed as the dog gets stronger. Advice on things to avoid and how to progress walks and activity will always be given along with a home exercise regime which may include functional exercises as well as stretches and massage.

The top video shows a Dachshund who had had spinal surgery for a slipped disc and the bottom shows a puppy who had subluxed the top 2 bones in its neck, both recovered really well and are enjoying life again.

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