Last Updated on 3 months by Dr Alisha Barnes

dog back pain: 4 signs your dog is in painOne of the many things that makes dogs so lovable to humans is their sensitivity, their seemingly-intuitive nature, and their trusting, care-taking instincts. But did you know that dogs can sometimes be insensitive to their own needs?

Dogs often conceal and mask their own pain, including from the humans that they love and trust unconditionally. Instinctively, the modern dog’s pain-hiding behavior is drawing on the ways of their canine ancestors, who would hide their pain to prevent themselves from being seen as vulnerable or weak to both predators and the other members of their pack.

For this reason, people often assume that their dog is not in pain unless they’re yelping, whining, or howling—but the fact is, those sounds are typically a sign that your dog is in severe pain, likely the result of an injury or a sudden increase in pain that has long been concealed.

When it comes to mild or moderate pain, dogs will frequently live in relative silence, exhibiting their pain subtly through their behaviors, changes in their habits, or by appearing hesitant to make certain physical movements like running or jumping onto or off of surfaces.

If there is something your dog once did with gusto which they no longer do readily and they are not significantly advanced in age, then there is a good chance they are experiencing back pain. Back pain is one of the most common types of pain that a dog may experience, and it also has the power to negatively affect the quality of their life.

While some people may attribute changes in their dog’s behavior to fluctuations in mood or other emotional factors, very often changes in behavior (especially as it relates to physical movement and activity) have a very simple cause—back pain. In fact, even changes in mood may be rooted in back pain and discomfort which your dog is resistant to showing physically. Here are four other signs that your dog is experiencing back pain:

Roach Back or Hunched Posture

Roach back occurs when a dog is holding itself stiffly in a protective position as to prevent pain which is resulting from movement. Roach back is named for the slumped dip that occurs in the lower back near the tail, which appears as a slight tucking posture.

Roach back may be almost unnoticeable if it develops slowly over time. If you place a hand on your dog’s back in the slumped area, it may feel unusually soft, as the muscle tone in that area is being directed elsewhere to stabilize your dog’s posture and prevent pain.

Hesitation to Jump On/Off Surfaces

Did your dog used to jump on and off of the couch and now no longer does, or seems to hesitate before taking the leap? If your dog is hesitating to jump, or no longer jumping, it’s likely that your dog is experiencing back pain. The back pain may have been caused by the jumping, or is simply made worse by the impact of landing.

Won’t Chase the Ball

While it is natural for dogs to become more lethargic and less energetic with age, many dogs retain their desire to play even into their later years. Irrespective of your dog’s age, if they no longer take an interest in playing fetch or chasing thrown toys, they may be resisting because of their back pain.

It is possible for this behavior to develop gradually and as such, dog owners may mistakenly attribute it to age, but if you play close attention, you might notice that your dog is still engaged and wants to play—they simply don’t feel comfortable running anymore.

Sensitive to Touch

If your dog reacts in any noticeable way (other than pleasantly) to being touched on their back, they may be experiencing back pain. This sensitivity occurs as the result of tension, strain, and compressed nerve pathways in the back.

It could be the result of a postural imbalance or an injury, and may occur even unaccompanied by roach back or other visual postural disturbances. If your dog’s back is sensitive to the touch, it’s likely that they are in pain even when you are not touching them.

Chiropractic Care for Pets

Just as humans do, dogs can experience great relief from chiropractic adjustments and other forms of chiropractic care. When your dog experiences a chiropractic adjustment, any inflamed and constricted nerves may be soothed, they may regain flexibility and movement where it was previously lost, and their back and bodies may experience a decrease in muscle strain and tension.

Chiropractic intervention for pets is particularly powerful in its ability to greatly enhance their quality of life because of the way chiropractic care addresses the source of their pain, not the symptoms of their pain. By taking your dog to a pet chiropractor, you are making the decision to help provide your dog with long-term relief by getting to the root cause of their discomfort. If you’re ready to help eliminate the cause of your dog’s back pain and allow them to return to their most comfortable life, book their appointment today.

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