Symptoms of Neck & Back Pain in Small Dogs

Written by emilytrudeau
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Symptoms of Neck & Back Pain in Small Dogs
Back or neck pain in your dog could result from intense jumping or falling. (jumpin' jack image by Lee O'Dell from

Dogs can get back or neck pain from a variety of causes. It could come from an injury from jumping or falling, from an infection that came from a bite or injury, spinal disorders or cancer. It is also possible that the real problem is another part of its body, such as an internal organ, and the pain is referred to the back. Some symptoms will let you know that it is time to take your small dog to the vet to get it checked out.

Lack of Movement

Many small dogs are rambunctious and energetic, frequently jumping and running in circles. If your dog is refusing to jump up on things that it normally does, or avoiding running, climbing stairs or even walking, this could mean it is suffering from back pain. The dog may also have a difficult time moving its head around, which may indicate a stiff or sore neck. In more severe cases, the dog may be unable to move at all. This could be from paralysis or just severe weakness of the affected body part. These symptoms require immediate professional care, and you should avoid moving the animal yourself to keep from injuring it further.

Direct Pain Response

Though dogs cannot talk to you to let you know what hurts, it is possible for it to tell you in other obvious ways. Small dogs tend to be quick to respond to a painful touch, so if your dog yelps, twitches or bites at your hand when you press along its spine, it likely has acute back or neck pain. Start at the top of the dogs head, and press down gently on the bone. Continue working your way down the neck and spine of your dog with your hand, pressing directly but gently onto the bone as you go. Watch your dog's face for wincing or whining that may be less obvious in some dogs than others.

Subtle Strange Behavior

Some dogs are more difficult to read than others, and you'll have to go by less obvious behaviours to understand if they are in pain. Your small dog may hide in a corner or under a bed when it is not feeling well. It may sit with a strange posture that would suggest sitting normally is uncomfortable. It also may be extremely tired or refuse to eat or go to the bathroom, which are subtle hints that something is wrong. Pay close attention and try palpating the body to find out if there is pain in the back or neck and visit the vet if you are unsure.

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