Many of you have seen and heard of arched back in dogs. This can be a sign that something is wrong. Today we are going to explain the complete topic and help you understand why this happens in dogs and what you should do about it. Keep in mind that it can happen to any dog at any given moment so keep your eye on this sign.
Understanding the Arched Back Posture
An arched back in dogs is a clear, visual indicator that something is amiss. This distinctive posture, characterized by the upward curve of the spine, is not just a random or quirky behavior but a signal that your pet could be experiencing discomfort or pain. It’s a physical expression of underlying issues that can range from mild to severe, requiring an owner’s immediate attention.
So, what makes a dog arch its back? It is a natural reaction to pain, similar to how humans might hunch over when they feel abdominal discomfort. In dogs, the arched back serves as a protective posture, an instinctive response designed to guard vulnerable areas and minimize movement to avoid further pain or injury.
The posture itself is easily recognizable. The dog’s back curves upwards, and sometimes the head is lowered, the ears are pinned back, and the tail tucked. This “hunching” can be accompanied by other behavioral changes, such as a lack of enthusiasm for play, decreased appetite, or an obvious display of physical discomfort when moving.
Understanding this posture is pivotal because it’s the first step in identifying and addressing the underlying issues causing the pain. Dogs, unable to verbalize their discomfort, rely on such physical cues to communicate their distress to their owners. Recognizing an arched back promptly can lead to quicker diagnosis and treatment, significantly improving the quality of life for your pet.
Educating oneself on this particular posture, its implications, and subsequent steps for care will equip dog owners with the knowledge needed to swiftly and effectively respond to their dog’s needs. Every owner must remember that such visual cues are a window into the health and well-being of their pet, and an arched back is a call to action, urging owners to delve deeper into their pet’s health and comfort.
Main Reasons Arched Back
The behavior here is also known as kyphosis and it can be a sign that something is wrong with your pet if he does this on a regular basis and shows some other signs alongside it. Arched back in dogs can also be described as abdomen tucking due to obvious reasons. There are a few reasons why a dog will do this and we will cover them below. But, there are two main ones which will deserve your full attention.
1. Due to abdominal pain
Abdominal pain can cause arched back in all dogs and it happens when your dog has some issue with his stomach. This can be caused by tumors, pancreatic, parasites, toxicity, and even bloat. It simply means that your pet ate something or has some condition that causes pain and discomfort. You will see diarrhea and vomiting as well which will help you deduce the main cause and act immediately.
2. Due to spinal pain
Spinal pain can cause this issue as well. There are two main variations. The first one is due to some pain in the neck or the back. It can be caused by bad genes, trauma, or some condition. If your pet doesn’t have diarrhea or vomiting, but he shows this, spinal pain is the cause.
The second issue here is called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and it probably sounds completely unknown to you. But, you have heard of it as a ruptured herniated or bulging disc. This happens when the soft disc between the vertebrae is damaged. It can rupture in which case the dog will be in massive pain. This condition does happen in humans as well and it is extremely painful. Most dogs can develop it at some point but those with short legs and obese dogs are at a much higher risk.
Your dog will have to go to a vet immediately. You will have to limit his movement, keep him in a crate and take him to a vet as soon as possible. He will probably start with medications. If they do not work, your dog will need surgery. During the surgery, the affected part of the herniated disc will be removed. You can tell when IVDD is present.
Your pet will walk out of balance and he will show other symptoms such as:
- Stiff neck
- Inability to move or walk
- Dragging paws
- Lowered head while standing
- Lack of appetite
- Severe pain
- Fecal or urinary incontinence
Keep in mind that if IVDD is the cause for arched back you must take him to a vet immediately. Every single hour counts and you need to help your dog right now. He will probably stay with an arched back as long as he is in pain.
Other Issues That Can Cause Arched Back
We did explain two main and the most common reasons for arched back in all dogs. But, these are not the only reasons and there are a few more you need to be aware of. These are less severe and more common so you need to know about them as well if you want to help your dog and protect him from pain.
Believe it or not, dogs can make and will arched back when they stretch. As you can assume this will last a few seconds and he will get back into a normal state immediately. Humans do the same thing and there is no need to worry about it. Your dog will also stretch rear legs after he is done stretching the back. Try to remember that this happens daily and always your dog will get back to normal behavior within seconds. He won’t have any other symptoms. There is no need to take him to a vet or worry about the behavior.
Spondylosis deformans is better known as arthritis of the spine and it affects some dogs. It can happen in all parts of the spine but affects the lower part the most frequently. Your dog will be in pain and yes he does need help from a vet. This happens in dogs who have their lower back under stress for years. The best example would be a greyhound or any racing dog. They put a lot of stress on the lower back while running, hence this condition can appear. It will bridge the space in the spine, in the vertebrae more accurately and cause severe issues.
We must add that older dogs are more affected by this condition and they can have even more severe issues and complications. Look and pay attention to the behavior and the movement of your dog. If he has this condition, he will avoid climbing the stairs. Actually, jumping on the couch or climbing the stairs will be extremely painful for him so he will avoid it. You will have to take him to a vet as soon as you can. To treat the condition, you can use medications and also acupuncture.
Some dogs may do this in certain moments or rarely. If there are no other symptoms and signs as we have revealed above, there is no need to worry about it and your dog doesn’t have to go to a vet.
Preventing the occurrence of an arched back in dogs, indicative of pain or discomfort, revolves around proactive measures to ensure the overall well-being of your pet. Here are several strategies to help minimize the risks associated with this condition:
Regular Vet Visits:
Regular Check-Ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s health. Early detection of issues can lead to timely interventions.
Vaccinations and Treatments: Ensure that your dog is up-to-date with vaccinations and preventive treatments for parasites.
Nutrition: Provide a balanced diet that caters to your dog’s specific nutritional needs to boost their immune system and overall health.
Avoid Human Foods: Refrain from feeding them human food that can be toxic or harmful.
Exercise: Regular exercise helps in maintaining optimal weight, reducing the risk of health issues related to obesity.
Playtime: Engaging activities can also minimize stress and anxiety.
Hazard-Free Environment: Make your home safe and secure, eliminating hazards that can lead to injuries.
Temperature Control: Ensure that your dog is not exposed to extreme temperatures.
Grooming and Hygiene:
Regular Grooming: This helps to detect any unusual signs such as lumps, skin infections, or parasites.
Dental Care: Oral health is critical; hence, regular brushing and dental check-ups are vital.
Training and Socialization:
Behavioral Training: Helps in managing behavioral issues and reduces stress.
Socialization: Expose your dog to various environments, people, and other dogs to boost their confidence and adaptability.
Observation: Be attentive to your dog’s behavior. Any changes can be early indicators of health issues.
Immediate Action: Consult the vet immediately if you observe signs of discomfort or pain.
Genetics and Breeding:
Research Breeds: Understanding the genetic predispositions of specific breeds can help anticipate and mitigate potential health issues.
Responsible Breeding: Avoid breeding dogs with known hereditary health issues.
Implementing these prevention strategies is instrumental in minimizing the risk of health issues that can lead to an arched back posture. Being proactive, observant, and responsive to your dog’s needs ensures not only their physical well-being but also their happiness and quality of life.
The Final Word
There is one thing you need to know about arched back in dogs. It is that in most cases it is a sign of some issue or a problem. Your dog does need help from a vet as soon as you can provide it to him and most of the treatments are easy and simple. But, some are severe and they include surgery. Luckily the recovery is promising in most cases.
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