Back and Neck Pain in Dogs
Can very easily be confused with your dog suddenly becoming lazy and withdrawn

Back and neck pain in dogs can cause your pet to gradually or suddenly change their posture, arch their back, and become extremely guarded.

If it has become severe, they may start to cry out with the slightest movement of their spine.

This pain may become so excruciating that your dog will not want to move and may stop eating and drinking altogether.


However, one of the most telling symptoms that your pet is experiencing back and neck pain in dogs is a very sudden onset of malaise.

Malaise is often defined as being generally lazy, but when dogs act lazy, there is usually a very good reason for it and in most cases it is some type of pain.

Your dog is experiencing discomfort and they cannot tell you about so it will be extremely important to watch for it and any changes in their habits, either gradually or suddenly.

Back and neck pain in dogs is most commonly associated with some type of a discomfort that your dog is experiencing along their spine; but this is not always the case.

It may also be what is called referred pain, which is a pain in another part of the body.

If the pain your dog is experiencing is in an organ near their back or neck, it may very well be the cause of this discomfort.


Back and neck pain in dogs can be very troubling for an owner to actually identify, but there are several symptoms that you can watch for.

If your dog could talk, it would be very easy to identify, but they cannot.

However, there is absolutely no one, including your veterinarian that understands your dog better than you do.

If you listen to them through their body movements you can identify this very painful ordeal.

Dalmation dogsWatch very carefully for a guarded stance in your dog

The first set of symptoms that you will generally see in your dog is a gradual or very sudden changing of their posture.

Even as dogs age, they retain the same basic posture as when they were younger.

This change will be easy to spot, as the first occurrence is usually an arched back, which is then quickly followed by a guarded stance.

This guarded stance is a defensive signal not from aggression, but from the pain they are suffering.

The next body signal will be a stiff neck. Dogs are by nature are quite limber, and a stiff neck is not normal at all for any dog.

As the pain increases, your dog will also become extremely reluctant to either turn or raise their head.

If any of these symptoms occur, you should immediately examine both your dog’s neck as well as the back as they are intertwined.

When you examine them, there are several things that you can look for with back pain and neck pain in dogs.

The first will be to see if your dog is actually having pain in either area when you touch them.

If they are, they will very quickly let you know. When examining their back, feel very gently for any type of a deformity on or around their spine.

Also look very closely for any bruising, any type of a puncture wound, or any type of laceration.

If they are indeed experiencing pain in the back or neck, when you examine them they will than begin to talk to you in the form of crying out or resisting your every attempt to touch and examine them.

They will talk in the only way they know how and hope you are listening.


Back and neck pain in dogs can have several potential causes, but once it is identified, you need to get them to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

The first potential cause of back or neck pain in your pet will be from Epaxial muscle diseases.

These muscles are any of the dorsal trunk muscles of your dog’s vertebra which lay dorsal in the septum.

They include the dorsal muscle associated with the vertebrae, the ribs, as well as the base of the skull.

Diseases that affect these muscles are often associated with inflammation or infection, but can also be the result of soft tissue injuries or bite wounds.

The next most common set of causes of back and neck pain in dogs will be from a vertebral disk disorder.

The vertebral column or the backbone of your dog consists of 34 individual bones that are referred to as the vertebrae.

The vertebrae column includes your dog’s spinal cord, all of their nerves, as well as muscles, tendons, ligaments, the inter-vertebral disks, and the blood supply to them.

These disks act as shock absorbs in your dog.

There are two types of disk disorders in dogs; Type I and Type II.

With type I there is a total rupture of the disk which causes direct pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve root.

Type II is a partial rupture which causes the disk to bulge. Depending on which type it is, it can cause spinal pain, slight paralysis, or eventually complete paralysis.

However, the potential causes do not end there.

Back or neck pain in dogs may also be the result of some type of a spinal trauma that has occurred that has caused a fracture or dislocation of your dog’s spine.

It may also be the result of cancer that is attacking your dog.

Neck or back pain from cancer affects the vertebrae, the nerve roots, or the soft tissue that surround your pet’s spine.

It may also be the result of some type of a disorder with your dog’s meninges.

These are the membranes that cover your dog’s brain as well as their spine and protect their central nervous system.

They are also very instrumental in carrying blood from your dog’s brain.

If they become inflamed or infected, the first signs that you will see is pain in your dog’s neck and back.

The last potential cause of back and neck pain in dogs is referred to as a referred pain.

This is where a pain develops in one organ but is felt in an area that is close to the organ.

If your dog has a developing or a sudden kidney infection, especially if it is bacterial, the first sign is pain in the neck or the back, or both.


Back and neck pain in dogs is just as painful to them as it is to you, the difference is they cannot tell you where it hurts.

It can be mild in some cases, or become extremely severe to the point that it could cause partial or permanent paralysis in your dog.

No one understands your dog better than you do.

They cannot talk, but they will communicate to you in the only way they know how that they are having this pain.

If you observe and listen to them, you can quickly identify this painful condition.

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