Scoliosis is a condition that can occur in both humans and animals. If your dog has an unnatural spinal curvature that you can see or feel as you run your hand down its back, your dog might have scoliosis. This blog will talk about the signs, causes, and possible treatments for mitigating and curing canine scoliosis.

Can Dogs Have Scoliosis? 

Just like in humans, scoliosis happens when the spine of your dog curves differently to an abnormal position. This spinal condition is often genetically inherited. However, there are cases where scoliosis can be caused by trauma or the lack of proper development of the muscles and ligaments that support their back.  

Detecting this abnormality is usually done early in a puppy’s life, as the curve can be noticed immediately.  A dog with a distorted spine will have its back arched to either side, causing an asymmetrical pattern in its body.

Canine scoliosis can make your pet prone to pain, discomfort, and other conditions. When the spine gets bent and curved to one side, it compresses the spinal cord, creating neurological disorders, such as ataxia and paresis, which can weaken or eliminate muscle movement.

What Causes Scoliosis in Dogs?

Scoliosis in dogs is considered a congenital disorder since it is genetically inherited. Your pet may also develop this spine malformation due to trauma that can create lesions on the spinal cord. Another common factor in canine scoliosis is the uneven development of one of the vertebrae or muscles. Ligaments that don’t form correctly distort the spine as a whole, affecting your pet’s body growth and leading to the irregular shape of your dog’s back. 

How Do You Spot Scoliosis in Your Dog?

Spine irregularity in dogs is often easy to notice and can be detected early on in your pet’s life. Here are some signs you can look out for if you suspect that your pet has scoliosis:

Curving of the spine

The most evident sign of scoliosis is when the back of your pet is arched in an unnatural pattern. You or your vet can detect this by feeling how its spine is formed even without using medical scans. You can also inspect this visually or when your dog is walking in a different way.

Pain and discomfort

Dogs with spinal irregularities are more prone to feeling pain and uneasiness. This is especially true in dogs with scoliosis due to the uneven alignment of their back. This uneven alignment can pinch their spinal cord and cause discomfort. 

Make sure to be attentive to signs of pain that your dog may be showing. If you notice that they are acting unnaturally, chances are there’s something wrong with them.

Decrease in physical activities

Scoliosis can hinder the movement and mobility of your dog. They can have a harder time walking or running, which makes them reluctant to move around and do less physical activities.

Weakening or Loss of Coordination

Scoliosis can negatively impact the neurological functions of your dog. For example, developed scoliosis can cause paresis and severely weaken the limbs of your dog.

Another example of a neurological disorder that comes along with an unnatural spinal curve is ataxia. This condition makes it harder for your dog to find its proper balance, making normal movements much more difficult than usual.

Diagnosis for Canine Scoliosis

If you suspect that your dog has scoliosis or is beginning to develop the condition, make sure to see a veterinarian immediately. Scoliosis is a degenerative condition that can worsen over time. Early treatment can help slow down the effects of the disease and maintain the proper quality of life that your pet deserves.

The first thing that your vet can do is give your dog a physical examination. The doctor can look for any irregularities that your dog may have. He may also ask for your dog’s medical history and recurring symptoms to learn more about your dog’s condition. 

After this preliminary assessment, further examinations may be done, such as X-rays, MRIs, and myelography. These types of tests can assist your vet in determining whether or not your dog has scoliosis and know the severity of the condition. 

Scoliosis Treatment for Dogs

Most cases of canine scoliosis don’t need immediate or drastic treatments. However, if the condition is much more severe, your veterinarian can prescribe different treatment options for your dog. Here are some alternatives that can help treat canine scoliosis:


Putting a harness or brace on your dog’s back can help maintain the proper alignment of their spine. Braces also help reduce back pains and bring back and maintain their mobility that is otherwise limited due to scoliosis. While braces can slow down the progression of the condition and keep it from getting worse over time, they cannot fix the scoliosis of your dog fully.


If your dog shows signs of discomfort and aching, your vet may prescribe medications to help manage their pain. These medicines often include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs.


If your dog has a more severe case of scoliosis, you might have to opt for surgery. Your dog may need to have a spinal decompression or stabilization procedure to fix its back completely. Surgery can reduce the stress on their back and correct the curvature of their spine.

Physical Therapy

Post-care after surgery is crucial if you want your dog to recover quickly and properly. Your dog may require a lot of rest before he can proceed with rehabilitation. Your vet may prescribe specific exercises or routines that you can do with your dog once they are well enough to move around so they can get back to their optimal physical condition.  

Come and check out the TLPOInfo blog to learn more about the different canine health conditions and tips on how you can help your dog live life to the fullest.

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