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What Are the Signs of Back Pain in Dogs?

A dog experiencing back pain may react negatively when his back is touched.
Howling could indicate back pain in a dog.
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  • Written By: Traci Behringer
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2014
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Among the signs of back pain in dogs are changes in their posture, decreased appetite, a reluctance to move or even a reluctance to turn their head and wobbliness when standing or walking. A dog with back pain might react negatively when its back is touched. It might have an arched back or a guarded stance, and it might have an obvious spinal deformity. Mild back pain in dogs can deter them from climbing stairs or jumping. In more severe cases of back pain in dogs, they might be unable to walk and might howl in pain when movement changes the position of their spine.

Determining whether a dog is experiencing back pain often begins with a look at its complete medical history, followed by a total neurological examination. This will determine whether the pain is truly in the neck or spinal area. Tests that the veterinarian will perform at this point might include a basic blood test, abdominal X-rays, spinal X-rays or serology in the case of infectious diseases.

Numerous factors can cause back pain in dogs. Epaxial muscle diseases, which include bite wounds, inflammation and infection, can cause canine back pain. Vertebral disk disorders and spinal trauma also can cause back pain in dogs. Cancer of the vertebrae is another cause. It also could be caused by a disorder of the meninges, the membranes which cover the spine and brain.

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As one might expect, treating back pain in dogs is only as simple as the nature of its cause. For example, minor spinal trauma requires merely limiting activity and administering corticosteroids. Cancer, on the other hand, would require a surgical procedure that might not work the first time around.

There are some things that an owner can do to make a dog feel better despite its back pain. Keeping the pet in a calm environment will prevent it from becoming stressed or excited, which would further harm the problems in its back and stimulate more pain. It is also important for the dog to remain in an environment in which it will not move too much. Like humans, dogs need to fully rest when dealing with any sort of pain — especially back pain.

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