How to treat Back Problems in Dogs

By Lynn Lecours

Back problems are common in long-bodied dogs like the Dachshund. Their backs provide relatively little support for their spines, which can make them more prone to injuries, such as herniated disks and subluxations. Any back problem is potentially serious, and can be recognized by the following symptoms: hunching of shoulders, neck or back; trouble moving; crying when being petted or when picked up; limping; or wobbly back-end. Except in the most serious cases, natural remedies can slow the progression of these back problems and relieve the pain.

Massage away the trigger points. When a dog has a back problem, nature has a method of stabilizing it. The muscles surrounding the affected area go into spams to protect it while it heals. These spasms are painful, and don't always stop when the problem is healed: They sometimes continue for weeks, months and even years. To provide release and relief, feel along the side of the dog's spine. Use little circular motions to search for small knots. Once you've located the knots, press on each spot with your finger or knuckle (depending upon the size of the dog). Anywhere from 10 seconds to two minutes of pressure should create a release, allowing the muscle to relax. Repeat daily.

To relieve temporary pain and inflammation, treat it with ice. (This is usually for new injuries, not a chronic condition.) Apply a cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes. Your pet will tell you when it has had enough, so don't worry about overdoing it.

If the back problem is long-term and unaccompanied by inflammation, a hot pack or heating pad will relax muscles and relieve painful stiffness. Both heat and cold can be applied three times per day. If the problem persists longer than three days, see your vet.

Protect joints and connective tissue. Glucosamine can heal the tissue fibers between the vertebrae. Cats can have 3 to 4mg of glucosamine per pound of body weight per day. Dogs under 15 pounds can have 5mg per pound, and larger dogs can have up to 15mg per pound per day.

Watch your dog's weight. Extra pounds put extra pressure on the spine. Keep your pet's body weight at an idea level for a healthy, happy animal.

Keep the dog moving. Most vets will recommend that pets with back problems stay immobile until it heals. But holistic vets recommend short, easy walks to keep in shape the muscles that surround the back and hold it in place. A 5-minute walk three times per week is a good start.

Magnetize it.