Back Pain in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

by | May 16, 2021 | Dog Health

Back pain occurs not only in humans but also in dogs. Dogs can experience mild to severe back pain with limited mobility, which can be temporary or chronic. Knowing the signs and treatments of back pain can tremendously help in alleviating your dog’s pain.

Causes of back pain in dogs

As an example, dogs experience severe back pain when a disc in the spinal cord becomes ruptured, causing unbearable pressure and pain on your dog. These are some of the causes of back pain in dogs:

  • Age – Bones tend to get weaker as the dog ages, making them more prone to back pains.
  • Injuries – examples include spinal trauma and minor injuries caused by a bad landing or wrong movement. They cause damage to the spine, thus inducing back pain.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) – this is the most common cause of back pain in dogs. This occurs when the dog’s spinal cord is damaged, causing pain over time. This commonly happens in dogs with longer spines such as Dachshunds, Pugs, and Corgis.
  • Arthritis – damaged joints near the spine can induce injury, which can result in back pain.
  • Inflammatory disorders –  acute and chronic inflammation or inflammatory conditions such as IBD and canine distemper can also cause pain in several parts of a dog’s body.

Signs and symptoms of back pain in dogs

It is vital to detect your dog’s back pain early to remedy it as soon as possible. Here’s how to know if your dog has back pain:

  • Having a stiff, hunched position
  • Experiencing mobility problems such as limping, dragging, and overall lack of control and coordination
  • Shaking legs or muscle spasms
  • Showing signs of pain (crying, barking) when back is touched
  • Displaying mood or behavioral changes
  • Exhibiting loss of appetite
  • Visible marks of trauma (e.g. bruises, scratch marks)

If your dog shows any of these signs and symptoms, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Physical and neurological examinations are performed to locate the source of pain and to test your dog’s neurological reflexes. They could also request for spinal x-rays or CT or MRI scans for a more accurate diagnosis.

Remedies for dogs with back pain

Once the underlying cause of the spinal damage is determined, your veterinarian will recommend treatment plans to help alleviate your dog’s pain.

Fortunately, there are also home remedies that you can try alongside medication and therapy options to reduce your furry friend’s pain and keep them healthy.

Here are some of the dog back pain remedies that you can discuss with your veterinarian.

Activities and adjustments at home

Weight control and management

Excess weight unnecessarily applies pressure on your dog’s back. Monitoring the weight of your dog is essential not only in ensuring their overall health but also in reducing the strain on their back.

If your dog is overweight, it’s best to discuss safe weight loss methods with your veterinarian. Meanwhile, if your dog is at a healthy weight, your best bet is to maintain that weight.

Regular controlled exercise

Even with back pain, physical activity is vital for dogs to ensure the mobility of their muscles and joints. Restrictions can be placed in their exercise plan so as not to aggravate their aching backs. Leash walks for shorter amounts of time can be helpful in keeping them moving without irritating their backs.

Mobile assistance

Since back pains can cause difficulty in movement, dog owners need to make sure that their dog is properly supported. A number of support items are available to suit your dog’s needs.

For instance, dog wheelchairs are helpful in moving your dog around without straining their backs. Belly supports are also recommended for dogs with back pain.

Back braces and supports are beneficial in alleviating your dog’s pain through compression. These should be tailored according to your dog’s body shape to properly support the spine and muscles.

Home adjustments

To ensure an environment conducive to your dog’s recovery, here are some of the changes at home that you can make to help your dog with back pain:

  • Keep them in smaller rooms or crates to minimize movement that can strain their back.
  • Add rubber mats or carpets to lessen the chances of your dog slipping and further damaging their back.
  • Place ramps to assist them in moving up and down.
  • As much as possible, restrict them from using stairs.  


Prescription medicines

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids can be prescribed to quickly relieve your dog’s back pain. However, these should be used with caution as they could have adverse effects when induced incorrectly.

Meanwhile, your veterinarian can recommend pain relievers alongside plenty of rest and controlled exercises to alleviate your dog’s back pain.

Dietary supplements

Supplements such as joint supplements and nutritional supplements can aid in the healing process of your dog’s back.


Physical therapy 

A specialist formulates an exercise regimen for your dog aiming at strengthening the weak parts and stretching out the stiffness and tightness from the back pain.

The regimen is tailored to suit the needs of your dog. After exercising, ice packs or heating pads are applied to the sore area.


Like physical therapy, this procedure involves exercise activities to get your dog’s muscles moving, but such activities are done in water.

Exercises performed in water creates less pressure on the dog’s muscles and joints, thus enabling them to regain motion and strength with lesser strain.

Additionally, the stimulation of blood flow through the movements produces more oxygen, which quickens the natural healing process.

Cold laser therapy

Laser therapy is another way to enhance your dog’s natural ability to heal. It utilizes light energy to stimulate blood flow and trigger the release of stem cells, all of which speed up the healing process.

Ultrasound waves

This method is ideal in relieving pain for areas that are more difficult to reach. Sound waves dive deeper into the dog’s body and produce heat, thus increasing the flow of blood to relieve back pain and reduce inflammation.


These are performed when medication and therapy are rendered ineffective. Surgical procedures remove the damaged disc material to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. After this, dogs will undergo medical treatment and rehabilitation therapy.

Help Ease Your Dog’s Pain 

Back pain in dogs induces physical pain and restricts your dog from living their life to the fullest. However, with early detection and a tailored treatment plan, your dog will be able to move and be their truest selves.

Browse the TPLOInfo blog for more articles about dog injuries and TPLO surgery.


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