6 Signs Your Dog Has Back Pain and 5 Common Causes

by Chris Boraas October 02, 2016

6 Signs Your Dog Has Back Pain and 5 Common Causes

October is National Pet Wellness Month. And since our dogs’ health and wellness are very important to us, this is a great time to focus on learning all we can about our pups and how to help them feel their best.

Obviously, dog pack pain is a cause that’s very near and dear to our hearts. We created L’il Back Bracer after our own doxie, Miles, was diagnosed with IVDD. Since that time we’ve been fortunate enough to help thousands of l’il backs feel better, and for that we are very grateful.

Before we delve into the top causes of dog back pain, let’s talk about how you can tell if there’s something wrong with your dog’s back. If your pup is feeling “off,” you’ll certainly be able to tell, but it can be tough to narrow down the exact areas of discomfort since he can’t talk to you.

Here’s how you can tell that there’s something wrong with your dog’s back:

1. General behavior changes. If he avoids stairs, doesn’t want to jump or climb and seems more withdrawn, his back probably hurts.

2. Aggression. If your normally mellow, sweet doggy suddenly becomes angry when you try to get near him, it’s a major sign that he’s in pain.

3. Loss of appetite.

4. Heavy panting.

5. Pain and weakness in legs.

6. Crying out in pain suddenly (this could mean a slipped disc).

    So you’ve narrowed down your dog’s source of pain… but how did it happen? Here are the top five causes:


    1. IVDD. Intervertebral Disc Disease affects the joints in the spine and is very serious. However, treatment is available, usually in the form of surgery followed by crate rest. We created the L’il Back Bracer braces to help your pup with IVDD recovery, and we’ve seen wonderful results. IVDD is very painful, but thanks to modern medicine, it is by no means a death sentence.

    2. Muscle spasms from overexertion. If you have an older dog who enjoys playing like a puppy, his back is probably flaring up. If your pup has overdone it and has sore muscles, he needs to take it easy for awhile. Your vet might prescribe some muscle relaxers, and you can look into gentle massage techniques.

    3. Genetics. It’s sad, but true: Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to having chronic back pain. Dachshunds, Shih Tzus and Pekingese fall into these categories. This is not to say that their pain can’t be treated, just that they’re more susceptible to having issues.

    4. Enlarged prostate. If your dog has back pain and also trouble with bowel movements, he may have an enlarged prostate putting pressure on his spinal cord. The primary treatment for this is neutering since the majority of dogs with prostate issues are unneutered. A series of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may also be administered.

    5. Disorders of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spine. This isn’t overly common, but it happens frequently enough that it’s something to consider. An infection of these membranes can cause soreness and stiffness along your pup’s spine. It’s treated with glucocorticoids, which help reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain.

      If you suspect your pup has back pain, take him to the vet right away. The sooner you diagnose the cause, the sooner you can help him regain his health.

      Chris Boraas
      Chris Boraas