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Dog Back Weakness & Dog Spinal Problems

Dog Back Weakness & Dog Spinal Problems

A healthy back is critical to a dog’s ability to get around. Back and spinal injuries or problems covers a vast array of issues; it can be anything from an injury sustained through trauma or an accident, to a genetic or breed-specific issue such as IVDD

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Back and spinal injuries or problems in dogs

A healthy back is critical to a dog’s ability to get around. Back and spinal injuries or problems covers a vast array of issues; it can be anything from an injury sustained through trauma or an accident, to a genetic or breed-specific issue such as IVDD (see specific page on this here).

While IVDD is perhaps one of the most well-known back issues, there are a number of other relatively common back and spinal problems such as;

  • Lumbosacral disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Subluxations of the spine
  • Spinal fractures or dislocations and soft tissue damage

Less commonly spinal and back problems can also include:

  • Spinal fractures or dislocations
  • Tumours
  • Infections
  • Blocked blood vessels and more.

Signs and symptoms of back and spinal problems

Because back and spinal problems can be cause for a variety of reasons, signs and symptoms are not necessarily generic. In addition, depending on where in your dog’s spine is injured, you may see different signs and symptoms.

Symptoms may vary in your dog depending on the type of injury and what has caused it.

  • Acute onset – You will most likely notice symptoms come on quickly and suddenly if injury is caused by an injury or trauma
  • Gradual onset – Symptoms with loss of use of back limbs for example, in degenerative cases such as osteoarthritis or other degenerative spinal issues
  • Loss of function – Your dog may lose some if not all function of their legs or lower half of the body. This can be physically with difficulty with walking/moving their back legs for example or your dog may become incontinent
  • Ataxia – There may be a loss of coordination in your dog’s limbs and this may give them an unsteady walk
  • Pain – Your dog may begin to experience pain in their neck, back and/or limbs due to the spinal injury

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a back or spinal problem, make sure you consult a vet to get a definitive diagnosis. The sooner appropriate treatment is started the more likely it is that your dog will have a better outcome.

How to help your dog around the house

Your dog’s spine acts as a shock absorber, so when they have any sort of back injury, preventing your dog from jumping or activities which cause concussion on their spine, is incredibly important.

So stopping them from jumping up, going up and down stairs, on and off of furniture (such as sofas or beds) is vital. Although sometimes this is easier said than done! If you struggle to prevent your dog from jumping etc, you can try and mitigate this by putting in little stepping-stones, so impact on their spin is less.

If you have slippery floors anti-slip socks or boots can be great in helping your dog get traction with their back legs, especially if they have some muscles wastage in their hind quarters. Similarly putting down carpets on any slippery floors can be just as good.

What Age does a dog develop a back or spinal problems?

Any age of dog can suffer a back or spinal injury, especially if this is caused by trauma or an accident. Degenerative back or spinal problems tend to develop when your dog is in middle or older age, but this varies breed to breed and dog to dog.

Treatment of back and spinal problems in dogs

Treatment of your dogs back or spinal injury depends on what condition they are suffering from. Generally, treatment involves a combination of restricting exercise, anti-inflammatories and pain killers, weight management and for some, they will require surgery.

There is a strong link between osteoarthritis and obesity. Extra weight means added stress that pulls downward on the spine. Adipose tissue (fat) also secretes hormones that increase inflammation in joints and elsewhere in the body. Because osteoarthritis isn’t a disease that can be cured, it is better to prevent its occurrence by introducing healthy eating and exercise at an early age. You should also deal with trauma – hard falls, etc. – quickly to minimise any lasting damage to your dog’s body. Giving a joint supplement (even from a young age) if you know that your dog has had any sort of spinal or back injury, is very helpful also.

Whether your dog needs surgery for their back or spinal problem or not, a back brace can give your dog firm support along their spine, giving them full security and reducing pain caused by the pinching of back nerves. Although not a silver bullet, a back brace can be a really useful addition if your dog is recovering from having surgery and needs extra support, or if their spine needs to be supported and kept straight to aid recovery.

Sadly, in some cases, back or spinal injuries result in your dog becoming paralysed or partially paralysed. Where this is the case, a wheelchair can be lifechanging, enabling your dog to still enjoy an active life, despite reduced function of their hind legs.

Dog Back Braces & Dog Spinal Problems

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