Back pain is a common condition in the canine world. From traumatic spinal injuries to intervertebral disk disease, back pain can affect all sorts of breeds, although some may be more at risk than others. As owners, we want to know what we can do to help our dogs cope, whether the pain is temporary or chronic.
The most important thing you can do for dogs with back pain is monitor their weight. Excess weight puts a strain on dogs’ backs and can cause additional problems. Talk to your veterinarian about how to help your pup lose weight safely.
Exercise is important for dogs with back pain, just like it is for people. However, you may need to restrict your dog’s exercise with shorter leash walks, less running, leaping, and other motions that could irritate his condition. Crating your dog or restricting him to a smaller room is another option for active pups or those in multi-dog households.
Avoid Slippery Surfaces
Dogs with back pain may have difficulty walking, especially on slippery surfaces such as tile, linoleum, or hardwood floors. Rubber mats or carpets can help your dog get around the house safely.
Invest in a Harness
Harnesses allow for easier assistance. There are many different types of harnesses out there, and some, such as the Help ‘Em Up harness, have handles near the dog’s hindquarters for extra support during potty breaks, walks, and movement around the house.
The impact of jumping can be uncomfortable for your dog, and in some cases, worsen his condition. If your dog is accustomed to leaping on and off furniture, like the couch or the bed, you may need to provide assistance. Ramps are a great way to help your dog get up and down, but you might have to train him to use the ramp. Stairs are also problematic for many dogs with back pain. When possible, restrict access to stairs entirely, and talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s limitations.
Managing your dog’s pain with medications that treat nerve pain, like gabapentin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Rimadyl or aspirin, can provide consistent relief for your dog. Remember, never give your dog two NSAIDs at the same time, as this could cause serious or potentially life-threatening effects. Additionally, if you switch your dog from one NSAID to another, make sure to observe the “wash out” period of approximately three days to allow the first drug to leave your dog’s system.
Ask your veterinarian about any medications that could alleviate your dog’s discomfort, along with alternative therapies like acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy, or localized hot and cold therapy, and always check with your veterinarian before starting any new medication.
These tips can help you help your dog, but make sure you consult with your veterinarian before trying something new, as some conditions that cause back pain may require specific treatment protocols.