Dog Arching Back And Walking Off Balance: What To Do Next
Is your dog arching its back like a cat? When this behavior persists outside of your pups regular stretching routine, it could actually indicate a medical emergency. Back arching, also called kyphosis, can alternatively be described as abdomen tucking, which makes sense, as it often suggests gastrointestinal distress.
However, it is also an extremely common sign of spinal pain. This is especially true if your dog is arching its back and walking off balance, panting, or shaking. The awkward posture apparently lessens the discomfort.
Causes Of Dog Back Pain
There are many reasons a dog may be suffering from back pain. Common causes of dog back pain include: old age, injury and diseases such as Intervertebral Disc Disease .
The most common cause of dog back pain is IVDD although bulging discs and spinal trauma can cause spinal pain as well. If you are not sure what is causing this pain it is always recommended to seek further information on the underlying cause from your Veterinarian.
What Not To Give Your Dog
We often think of dogs as human. After all, theyre part of our families and we love them as if they were human. But that doesnt mean they are and it certainly doesnt mean we can give them human remedies for canine afflictions. Common over-the-counter pain relief medications like Advil, Aleve and Tylenol are safe for humans, even in higher than recommended doses.
But these same drugs even a small dose of them can be very dangerous, and even deadly if used as medication for dogs. Whenever your dog is experiencing pain go see a veterinarian. Whether you book an appointment or go to an emergency vet clinic, do not give your dog anything for pain until you consult with a professional first. Failure to do so could be dangerous for your dog and certainly more dangerous than whatever is causing him pain.
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Dog Arching Back Due To Spinal Pain
On the other hand, if your dog is not exhibiting any of the more obvious gastrointestinal symptoms, its more likely that your dog is arching its back due to a spinal problem. Neck and back pain are fairly common in dogs, but there are several possible causes ranging from injury to an array of neurological conditions.
Unfortunately, since spinal pain in dogs is typically not associated with a known traumatic event, it can be harder to recognize.
What Causes Lumbosacral Syndrome
Narrowing of the spinal canal and pressure on the nerves that exit the spine cause the clinical signs. This pressure may be due to a narrowed spinal canal caused by arthritis, intervertebral disc herniation, an infection in the disc, trauma, congenital malformation, or a spinal tumor. The most common causes are arthritic degeneration and intervertebral disc herniation.
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Diagnosis Of Back Problems In Dogs
The diagnostic portion of your visit with your veterinarian is likely to start with a thorough physical examination in order to evaluate the general condition of the patient as well as to pinpoint the location and severity of the pain or paralysis. Diagnostic blood tests will usually be ordered as well, including a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and a biochemical profile, in order to uncover if there are any infections or imbalances that may be contributing to the animals trouble.
Computer tomography , magnetic resonance imaging technology , and a myelogram, an x-ray aided by a special dye injected around the dogs spinal cord, are all techniques may be utilized to help visualize the bones and joints along the spine. If arthritis is suspected, then the examining veterinarian may choose to take a sample of the synovial fluid that lubricates the joint capsule for evaluation. An examination to evaluate the dogs neurological functioning may also be utilized, particularly in cases where the patient is experiencing partial or total paralysis.
Spinal Recovery And Pain Management
Other ways that you can assist your dog is by making sure they stay at their Vets recommended weight. Holistic treatments such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture can also be a good to assist your dog recovering from spinal surgeries or injuries. Joint supplements can also help assist in the recovery process.
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What Are Back Problems
Dogs can experience back trouble for a number of reasons including genetic predisposition, age, and even injury. Although some conditions like strains and sprains may only require minimal intervention, other disorders, such as intervertebral disc disease and spondylosis, typically require surgical intervention.
Disorders like degenerative myelopathy do not have any effective treatments but can be managed for a time. As the treatments for certain disorders are time sensitive, and if your dog is showing signs of sudden or unexplained back pain or any evidence of paralysis, it should be treated as an emergency situation.
Dogs can experience back trouble that can range from simply inconvenient to severely incapacitating and can be triggered by genetic predisposition, trauma, or age.
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How Can I Tell If My Dog Is In Pain
Obviously, dogs cannot talk. They can bark, yelp, and sometimes even howl, but they cant tell you if they are in pain, let alone what is causing it. This can be excruciating for owners. When your dog is hurt, you hurt. But it can also lead to rash, and dangerous decisions.
As a dog owner, you must control the impulse to treat your dog for pain on your own. First, you should look for the signs of pain in your dog. Some dogs can be quite stoic, and even if they are suffering, they will not show it. On the other side of the coin, some dogs will yelp and howl at the slightest bit of pain. The following signs can help you determine whether your dog is in pain:
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Stop Or Modify Physical Activities With Your Pet
If your pet is showing signs of pain during an activity, avoid it until you can talk to your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will be able to help you figure out how to best help your pet, whether it is stopping that activity altogether or establishing modifications that will minimize pain.
Simple pain-reducing modifications to common activities can include: taking shorter walks, using a ramp or steps, rolling the ball or tossing it shorter distances, and raising food/water dishes to a more comfortable height.
For some instances of acute pain, these changes might be temporary, but for some chronic pain conditions, they may be long-term.
Progression Of Quadruped Exercise
Quadruped exercise with right arm raise only:
Take a quadruped position with your hands completely down to your shoulder and your knee down to your hip joint then slowly take a breath in and then elevate your right arm at that time you have to take care of your back it will be straighten and this position is maintain for 5 to 10 seconds . now slowly you take your arm down and breath out .
Quadruped exercise with left arm raise only:
Take a quadruped position with your hands completely down to your shoulder and your knee down to your hip joint then slowly take a breath in and then elevate your left arm at that time you have to take care of your back it will be straighten and this position is maintain for 5 to 10 seconds . now slowly you take your arm down and breath out .
Quadruped exercise with right leg raise only:
In Next stage, you will lift one leg. Your legs are heavier than your arms. Take a quadruped position and then straighten your back and then slowly take a breath in and then elevate your right leg.maintain this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then slowly take your leg down and exhale air. actually you have to elevate leg from hip height.
Quadruped exercise with left leg raise only
- Take a quadruped position and then straighten your back and then slowly take a breath in and then elevate your left leg.maintain this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then slowly take your leg down and exhale air. actually you have to your leg from hip height.
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Keep A Record Of The Signs Youre Seeing
Weve all been through the scenario where we see certain signs at home, but by the time we get to the vet, everything looks fine.
Thats why it can be helpful to take pictures or a video of your pet when they are showing signs of pain or discomfort. Write down when they occur and what your pet was doing at the time.
This helps your vet understand the scenarios in which your dog is experiencing pain as well as the types of symptoms and signs of pain they are displaying.
Having video and pictures of your dog can also help your veterinarian to make the proper modifications to your routine to help minimize the pain.
Your Dog Is Suffering From Cramps
Yes, even dogs are susceptible to cramps and muscle spasms. Cramps can occur due to an overexertion of the muscles. Common symptoms include twitching and tremor, limping, slow movement, and having temporary difficulty straightening their legs.
You can prevent your dog from feeling cramps and muscle spasms by making sure he gets plenty of small breaks in between a play session, and making sure he has access to drinking water throughout his play or exercise session.
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Why Its Important To See A Veterinarian
Both abdominal and spinal pain can indicate serious underlying health conditions in dogs. Prompt identification and treatment allow not only for relief of your dogs pain, but in many cases, prevention of a disease advancing to a more severe, irreversible, or even fatal state. However, since abdominal and spinal pain can both cause back arching in dogs, they can sometimes be difficult to tell apart.
Only a veterinarian will be able to evaluate your dog thoroughly enough to precisely determine the source of pain. Once the source of your dogs pain is established, diagnostic exams and imaging should be performed to rule out trauma and illness. Any medical care will include a pain management plan, but depending on the diagnosis, treatment will vary from a period of strict rest to surgical intervention.
So if your dog is arching its back and/or walking off balance, please begin your quest to comfort your canine companion by visiting a veterinarian.
Pulled Muscles Strains And Sprains
Muscle and soft tissue injuries are also possible. Just as your back may be sore after exercise, your dogs might be too. This is especially true of sport dogs such as agility dogs, who do a lot of exercise, twisting and turning in the air. If your dog has pulled a muscle in their back, they may walk stiffly or prefer not to walk at all. They may also cry out when attempting to run or jump. Often these dogs will heal without incident, sometimes just needing some time to rest.
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Symptoms Of Back Problems In Dogs
Dogs who experience back problems often have many symptoms in common regardless of the cause of the back trouble:
- Arched back
- Difficulty urinating or inappropriate elimination
- Increased pacing behavior
- Reluctance or inability to rise or walk
- Reluctance to move head
- Vocalizations of pain when moving
- Yelping or whining when touched
Any dog can be afflicted with back problems due to injury, age, or overexertion, however, certain dog breeds are somewhat predisposed to certain types of spinal trouble. Spondylosis may have multiple triggers, but certain breeds such as Boxers, German Shepherds, and Airedale Terriers seem to be over-represented. Several breeds of dog are prone to experiencing acute cases of intervertebral disk disease, particularly dogs with long bodies and short legs. Some of these breeds include Dachshunds, Pekingese, Shih-Tzus, Beagles, Poodles, Basset Hounds, and Corgis, and some larger dogs such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers are prone to developing a more gradual version of the same disorder.
Alleviating Canine Back Pain
Once a veterinarian has diagnosed the back problem, following their recommendations is key to treating the discomfort and pain the dog may be feeling. Recommendations may include limiting activity, medication, surgery, or a combination of all three.
Limiting activity may be as simple as keeping the dog quiet and avoiding things like going for extended walks, jumping up on furniture or people or exerting themselves in play. For more severe cases of back pain, the dog may have to be crated to avoid moving, and may even need to be carried outdoors to relieve himself in order to avoid additional injury to his back.
If medications are required, the veterinarian may prescribe any number of drugs or combinations of drugs in order to alleviate the pain. These drugs may include anti-inflammatory agents to relieve any swelling or inflammation in the back, antibiotics if the back pain is caused by infection, muscle-relaxers to alleviate muscle spasms or, in some cases, chemotherapeutic agents.
Surgery may be required depending on the source of the back pain. Injuries to the spine, paralysis due to disk disease, infections of the spinal column and cancer in or around the spinal column may require surgery in order to correct the problem and alleviate the pain.
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Back Injuries In Dogs
Physical injury is a common cause of a sore back. Whether a dogs injury is due to a traumatic event or something as simple as landing badly or moving the wrong way, a dogs back pain can be debilitating. Making their daily activities difficult. If ignored or left untreated back injuries can lead to ongoing back problems as your dog ages. Pay attention to changes in your dogs behavior such as a sudden unwillingness to play or reluctance to stand. These may be signs that your dogs back is aching.
What Causes Pinched Nerves In Dogs
Just like us, dogs have several vertebrae in their necks and backs. In between the vertebrae are several discs which act like cushions meant to prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other.
Just like us, these discs are prone to herniating and when they do, they create two problems: 1) the disc gets damaged and 2) the herniated material puts pressure on the spinal cord which is made of a cables of nerves. Nerves are very fragile and prone to injury. When they are damaged, they may cause pain, or if severely affected, they may stop relaying information to and from the brain, which leads loss of sensation in the limbs and paralysis.
However, unlike us, a disc problem can be very serious in dogs because 1) their spinal cord goes from nose to tail whereas in us humans it stops short in the center of our back and 2) because of their horizontal conformation, dogs are more prone to getting problems in the discs in their neck or middle of the back which causes herniated discs to impinge on nerves in the spinal cord whereas in us humans, problems tend to occur mostly in the lower back , which is below of where the spinal cord ends.
This means that while we may just get a shooting pain, dogs are more likely to get acute pain along with weakness in the legs and possible paralysis and problems urinating. Early intervention is therefore crucial for dogs as it can make the difference between a good prognosis or life long paralysis.
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Mobility Assistance For Dogs With Spinal Conditions
Some pets may benefit from using a dog wheelchair to help stay active during their recovery. Wheelchairs support the dog from underneath to take pressure off their rear ends.
When dealing with a spinal condition, it is always important to make sure they are supported properly along their back so as to not cause any further discomfort, the neoprene belly support can be used to provide support under the abdomen to keep a dog properly aligned and supported. The belly support is always recommended for dogs with back related pain or injury while in the wheelchair.
Ask Questions And Dont Be Afraid To Get A Second Opinion
Here are some questions you might ask your vet:
How will you manage your pets pain after a surgery?
How will a specific treatment help her pain?
Can a supplement help reduce pain?
What modifications can I make at home to help her?
What else we can do for her pain?
You can also always contact another general practitioner vet integrative vet veterinary pain practitioner or veterinary specialist like a behaviorist, surgeon, oncologist or neurologist for a second opinion or additional treatment options.
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Benefits Of Quadruped Exercise :
If you are doing this exercise regularly , you get following health benefits :