Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Dr. Alisha Barnes

5 steps you can do at home to reduce back injuries for your dog

Many injuries we see in dogs don’t occur when out and about or at the dog park (though those certainly can happen, too.) The most common place we see dogs getting injured at is actually at home! Luckily, there are some steps you can take to lessen the chance of an injury happening for your pup.

#1. Manage your pup’s weight

Extra weight puts increased strain on your dog’s joints, which can increase their risk of injury. This is especially important for dog breeds with long backs, such as dachshunds, shih tzus, and corgis. They are more prone to spinal injuries than shorter backed breeds, and the extra weight further increases the chance of an injury.

For most dogs, a healthy weight means you can see a “waist” on the dog when viewing the dog from above and can feel their ribs under a light cover of muscle when feeling along their sides. If you have any questions about your dog’s weight, reach out to your veterinarian or animal chiropractor for guidance. They can help you determine an appropriate weight for your pet.

#2. Avoid slippery floors

Dogs often like to run around at home and most homes have hard slippery floors. Whether it is rushing to the front door to greet a guest or playing with a toy, when they run around, they want to do it fast! Slipping is another situation that puts our pups at risk of injury at home. Putting down rugs with anti-slip backing or rubber mats in high traffic areas are a quick and easy way to decrease the chance of injury.

#3. Minimize jumping

Jumping on and off of furniture is another injury we commonly see. Especially for small dogs, that can be a big jump! Adding stairs or ramps to couches and beds is a great way to help your pup get to their favorite snuggle spot in a way that is safer for their body.

Dogs also often like to jump up to greet you when you get home or they are excited. This type of jumping also increases the chance of an injury. Teaching them to not jump up on you can help. Another option is to get down to their level when they are excited and wanting to greet you. This way they can express their excitement in a safe way.

#4. Lift your dog in a safe manner

Lifting or carrying your dog can increase their chance of an injury, depending how it is done. Always lift and carry your dog with 2 hands. This decreases the chance of them wiggling free or falling and also allows you to support their body better.

When lifting your dog, have one hand under their chest and one hand under their tummy, keeping their spine straight. If you must carry them, use both hands to hold them close to your body with their spine straight and supported.

#5. Exercise your dog safely

Being fit and getting regular exercise will help decrease the chance of injury at home. Exercise should be a daily activity for most dogs, but does need to be done in a safe way. Regular walks of consistent length can be a good way to start some exercise.

You want to be cautious of activities such as fetch. Fetch is a fast and explosive activity with lots of stops and turns. It should be done minimally and only with good traction. Any time you are adding an activity or increasing the length of an activity, you want to gradually build up duration. So if you have a big hike coming up, you want to build up a little bit each day on their daily walk in the weeks leading up to your hiking adventure.

Watching for your dog to get tired is key when exercising. Sprains, strains and other injuries are more likely to happen to a tired dog, so you want to stop an activity before they get tired.

With a few changes, you can easily help your dog live a fun and comfortable life while reducing the chance of your dog getting an injury at home.

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