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Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in a Dog's Neck

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in a Dog's Neck


Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

What Exactly Are Pinched Nerves in Dogs?

So what are pinched nerves in dogs and what are the symptoms? First and foremost, let's take a lesson in basic anatomy so we can better understand how your dog may have gotten a pinched nerve in the neck in the first place.

A Lesson in Anatomy

Your dog's spinal column is composed by several overlapping small bones known as vertebrae which allow smooth movement and flexibility in the neck and back area. Between one vertebrae and another, are several disks which are meant to cushion and prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other.

These disks, commonly referred to as "intervertebral disks" are meant to protect the spinal cord, a cable of nerves which branch off the spine and are responsible for relaying important information between your dog's brain and the rest of his body.

From head to tail, your dog's spinal column is composed by 4 vertebral regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. In this article, we will be focusing on the cervical vertebrae, basically, the ones in the neck area.

Dogs have seven vertebrae in the neck region (see picture below). The function of these vertebrae is to support to head and protect the vital spinal cord. They are displayed in such a way as to form a curvy "S" which allows flexibility and movement.

Let's take a brief look at their main functions. The first neck vertebrae is known as the "Atlas" and its main purpose is to allow your dog to raise his head up and lower it down. The second neck vertebrae is known as the "Axis". This vertebrae allows the head and neck to rotate. The remaining 5 vertebrae are quite similar in structure among each other.

Problems With Herniated Disks

When all goes well and your dog's cervical vertebrae are in good shape, your dog is happy and healthy. He flexes his neck without problems and enjoys every day activities.

Problems start when for one reason or another (trauma, genetic predisposition as seen in dogs with long backs such as dachshunds, being overweight, the presence of a tumor or simply an effect of aging due to degeneration) an intervertebral disk herniates and presses on the nerve roots, special fiber bundles that come off the dog's spinal cord triggering pressure, pain and a variety of symptoms.

It's the neck version of intervertebral disk disease, except for the fact that it affects the neck rather than the spine. In the next paragraph, we will take a look at the main symptoms of pinched nerves in the neck in dogs.

Which Dogs Are More Prone to Cervical Disk Herniations?

According to veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks, cervical disk herniations tend to occur in 15% of dogs affected by disk herniation and 80% of dogs affected are dachshunds, poodles, and beagles. The most susceptible vertebrae to disk herniation appear to be the C2-C3 vertebrae.

Symptoms of Pinched Neck Nerves in Dogs

Whether your dog's cervical vertebrae pinch the the nerves in the spinal cord or compress the spinal column, you may see a variety of symptoms that may not be readily recognized or are not taking seriously. Depending of how severe the condition is, your dog's symptoms may range from being mild to quite severe. It's very important to see the vet immediately should your dog show these signs.

1. Pain

Dogs may manifest pain in different ways than us humans. As vocal beings, humans are prone to vocalizing their pain through an "ouch!" or by complaining.

Dogs, on the other hand, are less vocal and their pain manifestations aren't recognized. Yawning, panting, smacking lips, breathing fast and moving from one resting spot to another, may be signs your dog is in pain.

While some dogs may yelp or whine when in pain, don't take lack of vocalizations as a necessary sign that your dog is not in pain!

When my dog developed a pinched nerve in his neck, he was restless, unable to find a new position, getting up repeatedly, breathing fast, panting, lip smacking, licking and yelping when he was getting up from a sleeping position and lifting his chin. Small dogs may yelp when being picked up.

2. Stiff Neck

The neck is painful and quite stiff. Your dog will assume positions in an attempt to give relief to the neck area. He may arch his back or point his nose to the ground. You may notice tension and tremors in the muscles of the neck area.Your dog may be reluctant to move his head side-to-side or to turn around in tight spaces.

When my Rottweiler developed a pinched nerve in his neck last week, he refused to spin around (a trick he does sometimes) and he was showing me whale eyes (the white of the eyes) because he was looking at me without turning his neck.

Eating requires dogs to lower their head and this can be painful in a dog with neck pain so some dogs may back away from the food bowl or refuse to eat.

3. Changes in Walking

If your dog appears to walk as if he's drunk, that may be a sign of cervical problems. Some dogs may not clearly stumble but may appear slightly uncoordinated. Some dogs may simply walk slowly with their head kept low, others may even buckle over in their front legs as they walk and stumble.

Some dogs may limp or hold up a leg. When my dog developed a pinched nerve in his neck, we saw him once limp on his front leg for a few seconds and for a split second it appeared as if he was limping on a back leg too.

4. Paralysis

As we mentioned earlier, the spinal cord is responsible for relaying important information between the brain and the rest of the dog's body. When the nerves in this area are damaged, the nerves responsible for relaying information to the limbs stop transmitting this information.

While relatively minor spinal cord damage may just cause loss of coordination (ataxia) and a "drunken" gait, as mentioned before, significant damage may lead to paralysis and a loss of pain sensation in the limbs. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, depending on the length of time pain sensation was lost, affected dogs may carry a very poor prognosis for recovery.

5. Lack of Proprioception

Proprioception may sound like a complicated term, but all it means is your dog's ability to sense the way his body is positioned. When this ability is not present, it could be indicative of a neurological condition affecting the brain's ability to relay information to the body, and a spinal cord issue may be a cause for this.

Affected dogs may be seen dragging their legs in an abnormal fashion and failing to reposition their legs as they normally would during a neurological exam. See video below for an example.

An Example of Testing Proprioception

How to Treat a Dog With Pinched Nerves

Dogs with spinal problems may need different treatments. Treatment varies based on what the dog has. For instance, if the nerve is simply pinched or if it's herniated and actually ends up pressing on the spinal column causing neurological signs, treatment will be different. It may also vary based on how severe the dog's symptoms are and how promptly the owner takes the dog to the vet.

1. See Your Vet

If you suspect a spinal problem in your dog, it's vital to have your dog see your vet immediately. With certain conditions, the longer you wait to seek help the worse the prognosis, since things can progress quickly.

Your vet will likely examine your dog, move his head around and palpate his spine. He'll look for signs of pain and reluctance to turn the head. While x-rays are often done to diagnose conditions, in the case of a pinched nerve, x-rays aren't very effective in showing prolapsed discs.

A myelogram done with contrast dye is more effective. If your vet suspects a pinched nerve, he'll likely put your dog on a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory drug. Some vets may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the swelling.

When my Rottweiler got his pinched nerve, he was prescribed methocarbamol (a muscle relaxer) and meloxicam (also known as Metacam, a popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). The vet wanted to originally prescribe Rimadyl, but my dog got side effects on that medication once as a puppy and I was afraid.

As much as I do not like giving my dogs NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) unless absolutely necessary, my Rottweiler's pain was almost unbearable.

2. Get Bloodwork Done

The vet asked me if I wanted to run blood tests to check my dog's kidneys and liver before sending me home with the medications and I said "yes, absolutely." This is very important because dogs with undetected liver or kidney problems taking these meds can develop serious side effects.

Also, it's not a bad idea to get blood work done also during and afterward, especially if your dog will be on them some time.

3. Watch for Side Effects!

When your vet prescribes a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, watch your dog for side effects! Be wary of vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, bloody stools, dark, tarry stools, jaundice and increased water consumption. I would recommend going out with your dog and checking his stool every time.

If you notice anything abnormal, notify your vet immediately. My Rottweiler vomited on day 6 of taking his Meloxicam and he was to take it for 7 days. When I called the vet, she told me to stop giving it.

Thankfully, he was doing better already so it was OK. If your dog is prescribed other medications, read the leaflet carefully so to learn what to watch for and report any side effects immediately to your vet.

4. Let Your Dog Rest

Your dog will need rest to allow a scar to form over the disc material. This is the most important step as you want your dog to heal properly. If you allow exercise too soon and your dog has a herniated disk, the disk may herniate more causing the condition to worsen.

Be specifically careful not to let your dog jump on or off furniture, going up and down stairs, playing tug and letting your dog shake his toys with his head. Accompany your dog outside to potty and keep him on leash.

5. Use a Harness Instead of a Collar

When you take your dog outside to potty, make sure he's on a harness rather than a collar. The last thing you want is having a collar encircle your neck when you have neck pain.

It would be in your dog's best interest to wear the harness all the time from now on to prevent future problems. The harness will put less strain on the neck if your dog should pull.

6. Give Warm/Cold Compresses

Cold compresses can help give temporary relief on top of giving prescription medications as suggested by the vet. Veterinarian Dr. Drew suggests applying an ice pack or cold compress for about 10 minutes if you are able to locate the painful area.

Whether to use ice or a warm compress is a matter of what you are dealing with. Dr. Dan says that if the pain is due to a pinched nerve, then ice works best as it decreases the local swelling around the nerve and it helps relieve pressure, but if there are muscles spasms and tension which are commonly seen with pinched nerves, then warm compresses will feel better but it's important to cover a large area for best relief. He therefore suggests starting using ice for 10 minutes at a time, and if no relief is seen after 2 to 3 treatments, then heat may be tried.

7. Consider Chiropractic Care

Some dog owners report success with chiropractic care. Yes, there are chiropractors catering to dogs too! Chiropractic care though isn't meant to replace veterinary care or surgery; it's simply an alternate care option for chronic cases or when there are side effects from medication.

What does chiropractic care accomplish? It focuses on the alignment of the spine. It's best to play it safe and look for a certified animal chiropractor .The American Veterinary Chiropractor Association offers listings for certified chiropractors.

8. Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture is another option for dogs with disk problems. Sometimes it's used in conjunction with chiropractic care. My vet suggested that this is an option for my dog if things don't get better. She is an awesome vet that also does acupuncture.

9. See a Specialist

Unfortunately, some cases don't respond well to medications and rest. According to veterinarian Nicholas Trout, medical management was found to fail in a study and didn't work in about 33 percent of dogs.

Some dogs may respond well to rest and medications initially, then once taken off, the're back to being painful or have relapses some time later. According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, dogs showing neurological symptoms are the ones that are least responsive as their neurological symptoms suggest large quantities of extruded disk material pressing on the nerves. In such cases, a referral to a veterinary surgeon may be helpful so you can fully explore your options.

10. Consider Surgery for Complicated Cases

Severe cases or those that don't respond to rest and medications may necessitate surgery. The surgery is meant to to remove disc material. This is a delicate surgery as the nerve tissue is delicate. Surgeons cannot make guarantees on the outcome, but when things go well, affected dogs may improve significantly.

It's best to have the surgery carried out by a veterinary specialist such as a neurologist/neurosurgeon.

Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a replacement for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your dog has a pinched nerve, please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Vetri-Disc for Connective Tissues Associated With the Dog's Spine

A Pinched Nerve in My Dog's Neck

Questions & Answers

Question: My vet diagnosed my Pomeranian with being completely paralyzed. He was not peeing or pooping on his own. Two days ago, he began peeing on his own as well as pooping. He is standing on his back legs when I stand him on them, but he is not walking. Could this mean he is not completely paralyzed in his rear?

Answer: The improvement sounds promising. What did your vet diagnose your dog with exactly? With Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) for instance, it is found that 74% of dogs (according to one study) showed improvement. The maximum improvement tends to occur by 3 weeks after injury, with some dogs demonstrating some additional slow improvement over the course months.

© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 28, 2020:

Hi Sammi,

How unfortunate that both your dogs got pinched nerves around the same time! I can't imagine going through that twice. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Sammi on June 27, 2020:

I have a rotti and a frenchi who we just took to the vet within one week of each other, and they both have pinched nerves :( the x rays looked crazy how jumbled the spine looked- they put them on a pain med/steroid mix and so far it really seems to be working- rest is the best of course!! I just want to thank you for this read- it REALLY helped me learn more, and actually calmed me a bit :)

M pilson on May 06, 2019:

I have noticed past couple of days my Frenchie 10 months old her back legs shake uncontrollably if u touch her neck almost like she cannot control like she is being tickled !

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 07, 2018:

Lucky, your dog needs veterinary care and pain meds from your vet. So sorry your dog got injured, I hope it wasn't intentional.

Lucky on August 06, 2018:

Some one hit his neck and and hi can't move his neck can't down his neck how I treat her please tell me

Aaron on April 26, 2018:

I have a golden doodle, 8 months old and he’s about 70lbs. I have noticed a lot lately that he will be just standing around and twitches his neck like there is something wrong with it. The motion is very similar to like he’s shaking his head to rotate his collar around. It’s almost as he wants to shake it but goes to far and stops it and then tries again. I’m not sure if he tweaked his neck or slept wrong but noticed it for a bit now.

Isiah on September 03, 2017:

Add Your Comment.my dog has this neck pain like below his ear an like in his inner neck I feel, he acts just fine at times when we take him out but yelps when he moves his head to the right is this a sign of a pinched nerve he also puts less weight on his right paw as well...please I need help can someone please lemme know what's wrong

[email protected] com on May 25, 2017:

Molly my min Yorky began limping on front left leg, then later calapsed. Vet xrayed her but found nothing. The neurologist said she has a neck trauma. She was treated with steroids and antinflamitary drugs which have helped along with rest. But still limping slightly at times on front leg. Will this improve?

Hannah on May 17, 2017:

So our vet thinks our pup might have a similar problem, he wasn't able to get a exam because she gets nippy at the vet and couldn't get a muzzle on her. It all started Monday morning she was yelping and crying, we had a lot of trouble with getting her to jump into the car, but out she did fine. She's on rimadyl twice a day. She seemed to be a lot better so we decided to take her for a short walk. Well a minute into the walk she was in pain again, she pulls quite a bit, so I'm wondering if her neck is where her problem is. The vet thinks that she might have a pinched nerve. Any advice to make my husky more comfortable?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 07, 2017:

Sandra Goode, yes, Pepcid A/C can help prevent side effects of NSAID use such as Rimadyl. Only thing is vets not always prescribe it. My vet will write me a script for Metacam, but I had to personally ask if it was OK to give Pepcid, vet never suggested it and she told me she didn't think it was necessary with such short-term use of NSAID as in the case prescribed for my dog, 7 days for neck pain. Always best to ask the vet first as Pepcid needs to be used with caution in dogs with heart problems.

Sandra Goode on May 04, 2017:

FYI:

If you going to use Rimadyl give your animal pepsid,,, not pepto pesmol, put pepsid, im surprised vet didn't tell you that.... I went between....a couple days Rimadyl, then medcam. My cat now on medcam, but sparingly for his arthritis in hips...kidneys don't like, throws up a lot after, but he's use to throwing up...so I wait till I see his leg shaking after laying... after meds he's running. Play, etc. They gave me liquid opiod, but nope, kill animal fast with those and my cat hated Being messed up.

Just a price of info...

We have mom's dog in hospital now, her dog collapsed, have mass of none spurs in neck pressing on brain.... under a specialist neurologist...get redLtd of MRI today.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 17, 2017:

Ask your vet whether you can have a script for an appetite stimulant or should try Hill's A/D. With pain in the neck area, your dog may feel better for the time being, being hand fed or fed from an elevated bowl since it might hurt to lower the head to eat. Also, crunchy foods may hurt, so you may want to try canned or soak the food with a little broth (with no onion or garlic) or warm water. I find it concerning though that he hasn't been getting better in these days (or is he better, but just won't eat?) despite the injections.

deepti on April 16, 2017:

my 10 year old dog is suffering from cervical injury he dosent wants to eat his meds or have his food

its getting very hard now for me to feed him its been 7 days he hasn't eaten and I have to take him to vet every single day for his saline drips and takes his meds thru injections only

what should I do ?

Jennifer Harvey on February 05, 2017:

My dog has the symptoms of moaning when changing elevation, restlessness, head hung low, and sensitivity when petted around the neck and back. My dog could easily have serious back problems but she only gets it at certain times. Usually, it's after she's had to wear her cone. My dog is allergic to the grass in the back yard and occasionally she'll get hot spots so I put a cone on her to prevent her from reaching her raw spots. She does sleep in it otherwise she'll irritate her spots while I'm asleep. Could all of this pain be a result of sleeping in her cone? Does anybody have a pet that experienced temporary back pain?

jenny on February 04, 2017:

13 1/2 year old pit bull with pinched nerve. scared and looking for advice to alleviate some pain in the meantime. she's on anti inflammatory and pain meds for 5-7 days

Lisa terreault on December 25, 2016:

Very helpful article

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 26, 2016:

Pam May, got to dodgerlists website, you will find a forum with lot of people going through the same ordeal. Some vets even recommend 8 weeks of rest.

Elena Cabezas on September 03, 2016:

Thank you. Very helpful insight

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 29, 2016:

Shana, Make sure you follow your vet's direction to a T, restrict exercise and give medications as prescribed, and report back to him if you notice any pain. Your dog may need his pain meds adjusted or another med may need to be added. Softer foods like kibble soaked in water may help with the pain. From what I know, prognosis varies on several factors and one important factor in spinal injuries is whether your dog has sensation in the limbs. Presence of sensation in the front legs has a better prognosis. In some cases, surgical repair may be needed.

Shana on August 19, 2016:

my chihuahua fractured his atlas first vertebra bone after the skull and he's 10 months old will he heal ? , they gave him meloxicam for pain and inflammation and amoxidrops and I notice when he yawns it hurts him , and he can barley open his mouth . Do you think he will get better ? I'm so scared and worry for him

Teddy on April 15, 2016:

I know, I was in agony these days not to give him anything, and somehow we did it without rimadyl, but if Teddy couldn't lay down in 30 minutes - sure I would do anything to make his pain to go away. Maake sure he eats with those meds, and I think he will be fine in few days. The biggest problem after mads is to keep him resting, I so quite big improvment after I have succeeded to make him lay and sleep for 12 hours. I put my matrace on the floor so he could not jump during the night on the bed ( I know it sounds crazy, but what you gotta do, you gotta do :) Today, after whole 7 days, is the first daz that he wasn't in any pain and he didn't freeze with his spine arched and head down. I hope that everyday I will see some improvment. We are holding our fingers and paws crossed for fastest recovery!!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 15, 2016:

Awww, thanks! Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your dog too! My vet told me to give tramadol on top of metacam and methocarbonal in case he still has problems falling asleep. So picking up a prescpription for tramodol today. I hate to give all these meds!

Teddy on April 14, 2016:

Oh, no! I am so sorry to hear that, but I am sure that it will soon go away as he is in great hands!! Keep us posted, we are keeping our fingers crossed to get better as fast as he can!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 14, 2016:

Teddy, you may find it hard to believe, but just like an hour after writing the above post saying that my dog has been fine ever since last year's pinched nerve, my dog gets up and yelps and it looks like after a whole year he's getting his neck problem again;(

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 14, 2016:

You will have to ask your vet for the Rimadyl, each dog responds differently, and you have to always check for side effects. I know dogs who have been on it with no problems others who have gotten very sick. My dog was on Metacam which in my vet's opinion would have less side effects. My dog had to take it for 7 days, but had to stop at day 6 due to vomiting. The muscle relaxer was prescribed for the muscle spasms. Restricted activity can be tough, that means on leash to go potty, no jumping, running etc which can be difficult with an active dog.

Teddy on April 14, 2016:

they gave him only once Rimadyl, altough during under the drug he was feeling super happy jumping around, while I was trying and running around the house after him to make him rest..Then after the drug was out of his system, he was worse than on the begining (i think it was because he was so active) so we wanted to try without the drug, because he is not in constant pain. I can see some improvments, but it is still so slow as I would like him to get better fast. Anyway, it"s good to know that we have to be very patient and that still after few weeks we could expect him to have ups and downs - I will keep then to carry him upstairs and downstairs for a long time :) Do you think it is neccesery to give him NSAID or not? I am scarred of rimadyl since I have read horror stories about it...

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 14, 2016:

Hello, my vet told me the pinched nerve in my dog's neck was acute and that he would get better with 1 week of rest and anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxer. Is your dog on any of these? While my vet said only 1 week of restricted activity, I found that it was better to do about 3 weeks of it, and even after these 3 weeks he was bit sore. Now he is fine, but he has had a few ups and downs every now and then.

Teddy on April 14, 2016:

I forgot to mention that his periods that he is "frozen" with his arched spine lasts shorter than before, and he had all listed symptoms except paralysiss, and his proprioception is excelent. Thanks for the answear.

Teddy on April 14, 2016:

I have just read all that you have written, and all the symptoms that you listed (), my poodle has it, for 5 days now,. I was wondering how long did it take for your dog to recover?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 12, 2016:

Tara, so sorry about your loss. Odd how it started as a nerve problem in the front leg and then progressed to the back. I own two senior Rottweilers and feel devastated every time they aren't feeling well, so can't imagine how it must feel to lose one.

Tara on March 12, 2016:

Just lost my ten year old Rottweiler who started w a Bracheoplexus nerve problem in the front left leg. She responded well to steroids and pain Meds after not responding to Rimadyl and Robaxyn. We were doing so well, then her back legs started to go weak. After an examination and X-rays it was determined that she was suffering from arthritis. We increased the steroids which helped for a while but she slowly declined. After watching her fall and become helpless, I made the decision to let her go. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. The nerve problem started after she arrived home from a short stay at a pet hotel. I just have no idea what happened. She was fine and then she wasn't! God I miss her!!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 26, 2015:

Emmmm, first off that video is not made by me. It's made by a veterinarian. When my dog got a pinched nerve in his neck, he was also given a similar examination and he flinched in pain. The vet had to see these pain responses in order to diagnose him. Similar things are done in human medicine, when my dad had pain in his arm they twisted it in all directions and asked if it hurt. When I had stomach pains, the doctor palpated every location to see if it hurt-- and sure it did, but bingo the doctor figured out what if was and I was cured.

Jerk on November 25, 2015:

Why for a video would you cause a dog pain?? You need a new profession.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 18, 2015:

Hopefully, your dog will recover from this. My Rottweiler was in terrible pain, but got better with rest and the meds. Now, he may feel a bit stiff there, but is much better.

Michelle on October 13, 2015:

Took my 11 year-old spayed Dalmatian mix to the vet yesterday for limping in her right front leg as well as an ear infection. After taking her history, watching her walk and trying to manipulate her neck (which she resisted) he diagnosed her with a pinched nerve in her neck. She's now on meds for pain and inflammation which she needs to take for 10 days.

We were way off thinking it was something to do with her foot or possibly arthritis due to her age. This is why you take your dog to the vet. Hopefully she's on her way to recovery and I'm crossing my fingers for a few more good years with her.


Q&A: Treatment Options For A Dog With Pinched Nerve In Back

Q: Our dog has a pinched nerve in his back creating back leg weakness. We’re looking for treatment options.

Lola Michelin, Northwest School of Animal Massage:
Pinched nerves are serious business indeed and once your veterinarian has had the opportunity to diagnose the degree of trauma and the location, there are many therapies that will help. Of course, one of the first things your veterinarian will want to do is get any inflammation under control, which may include medication. This is a crucial step, but there are other therapies that can help with this. Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a very gentle massage technique that supports immune function during inflammatory stages. You will want to find a trained specialist for this particular technique. Most massage will be contraindicated for the exact site of trauma, but generalized massage will be a helpful tool for pain management as well as relieving anxiety or compensatory muscle tension and supporting the immune system.

Acupressure/puncture would also be recommended it is an excellent tool for pain management. Again, you will want to find someone specifically trained in massage and/or acupressure for animals. You can check for practitioners in your area at www.nbcaam.org or www.nwsam.com or www.iaamb.org.

Heat or cold applications can be overstimulating at this stage and should only be carried out under your veterinarian’s guidance both can increase pain where nerves are involved. However, cold laser and microcurrent therapies can be used locally and have tremendous benefit for both pain management and healing. These therapies also require a trained individual and your veterinarian may be a good source for a referral. As your dog’s condition improves, more massage techniques and hydrotherapy can be added to help your animal regain movement and strength. If the condition is related to a degenerative condition such as degenerative myelopathy or spondylosis, these therapies can still be valuable in managing the condition through its stages or even slowing the progression.

In the acute stages, I would also consider energetic therapies such as Reiki where healing energy can be directed to the site without contact. There are also Bach Flower Remedies or homeopathic products such as Traumeel, Zeel or Rescue Remedy that can provide relief. Use caution with topicals though as the dogs skin harbors lots of dirt and bacteria that you do not want to introduce below the skin. I like Rescue Remedy because you can give it orally or in the water or food and you can take it as well so that your own emotional response to your dog’s pain can be alleviated.

Lisa Ruthig, Doggone U at Bancroft School of Massage Therapy:
I spoke with a vet (who stresses she is not a neurologist) who says while the gold standard would be to get an MRI to make sure there is no disc compression, massage would not be contraindicated for a pinched nerve, and may well help if it is a restricted muscle that is compressing the nerve. Fascia can also restrict nerves, and myofascial release would be another option to add to massage.

Lastly, they may want to look into laser therapy to reduce inflammation. The newer MLS lasers are very promising.

Amy Snow, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute:
One option is acupressure. Acupressure has proven to be effective with spinal issues. Acupressure can be combined with physical therapy techniques. Suggested acupressure points to start are: BL 40 if the pinched nerve is toward the back of the dog, Bai Hui, GV 14, CV 12, BL 23, GV 20. There are more specific acupoints depending on the location, root of weakness, and level of weakness.

Beth Innis, DVM:
Definitely acupuncture, potentially chiropractic.

Note about the products mentioned in this post: Traumeel and Zeel are manufactured and sold by the German company Heel Group who unfortunately were forced to discontinue their operations in the US and Canada. A new product, T-Relief, claims to be the same product, but many have experienced that it does not work nearly as well. You are still able to get Heel products on Amazon, or if you are traveling to South America or Europe, stock up! They are available there.


Changes in Movement

Dogs may exhibit symptoms such as a change in gait due to the pain from the pinched nerve. A dog may carry itself differently, favor a leg -- especially a hind leg -- and may exhibit limited range of motion in affected areas. Typically, dogs will become much less active and seem reluctant to play. Some dogs suffer intermittently from the condition and act normally on better days.

Dogs may also seem to lose coordination when suffering from a pinched spinal nerve. A dog may walk or lay down with its back arched or may carry its tail differently. Some dogs even walk on their knuckles when afflicted by this condition.


Disk Disease (IVD)

Disk disease occurs in cats and dogs, with the occasion problem in other species. This dog pinched nerve problem is similar to what happens in us people.

Since it occurs mostly in dogs, this page will emphasize disk disease in dogs, although the diagnosis and treatment of disk disk applies to cats and other species as well. A pinched nerve in dogs is similar to a pinched nerve in cats and other species.

Even though it occurs more often in dogs, cats can get it also. This cat is getting laser therapy on its spine, you will learn more about this later in our page.

Breeders have selectively bred dogs over many years to obtain a certain look or to enhance specific behavioral attributes. One of the more significant tradeoffs with this type of breeding is the propensity for some breeds to have problems with their bone structure. In some dogs this affects the spinal cord.

At a minimum it causes discomfort, but unfortunately, it can cause more severe problems, including complete paralysis. When it occurs it is called intervertebral disk disease (IVD). It is one of the most common diseases causing paresis and paralysis of the rear legs in dogs. It is estimated that up to 18% of dachshunds will have this problem. IVD occurs in cats, but not as commonly as dogs.

In though it is not a common, a pet with IVD can be in severe pain and go into shock. Shock is a medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary care. The Long Beach Animal Hospital, staffed with emergency vets, is available until the evenings 7 days per week to help if your pet is having any problems, especially shock, pain, breathing hard, or bleeding.

Think of us as your Long Beach Animal Emergency Center to help when you need us for everything from minor problems to major a major emergency. We serve all of Los Angeles and Orange county with our Animal Emergency Center Long Beach, and are easily accessible to most everyone in southern California via Pacific Coast Hwy or the 405 freeway.

If you have an emergency that can be taken care of by us at the Animal Emergency Hospital Long Beach always call us first (562-434-9966) before coming. This way our veterinarians can advise you on what to do at home and so that our staff and doctor can prepare for your arrival. To learn more please read our Emergency Services page.

One of the most significant treatment modalities for IVD is called VNA, especially since no drugs are involved. We will talk about it more in the treatment section.

Neuroanatomy and physiology is a world unto itself, and is far too complex to cover completely in this page. It will be summarized and generalized for much easier understanding. It is helpful to be aware of some of the medical terms involved with IVD:

analgesia- lack of feeling or pain hemi paresis or paralysis- problem with the front and back limb on the same side.
ataxia-incoordination para paresis or paralysis- problem with both pelvic limbs
paresis- partial paralysis mono paresis or paralysis- problem with just one limb
plegia- complete paralysis tetra paresis or paralysis- problem with all four limbs

Vertebral Anatomy

  • Cervical (neck)- 7
  • Thoracic (chest) – 13
  • Lumbar (lower back) – 7
  • Sacral (pelvis) – 3 (fused)

Let’s go on a tour of this anatomy by looking at overlapping radiographs:

The 7 cervical vertebrae are quite flexible, for obvious reasons. Disk disease can occur anywhere in the cervical vertebrae. C-1 and C-2 are called the atlas and the axis. There can be an instability in this area in large dogs that will cause neurologic problems. The term breeders use for this is “wobblers”. This is a pinched nerve in dogs neck.

C1 and C2 are the atlas and axis vertebrae

As the cervical vertebrae become the thoracic vertebrae they go past the shoulder (S). The nerves that come off this cervical-thoracic junction at the shoulder are called the brachial plexus (you cannot see nerves on a plain radiograph). They innervate the front legs on each side.

Each of the thoracic vertebrae corresponds to a rib (R) on each side of the chest

As we continue down the thoracic vertebrae you can visualize how high their dorsal spinal processes are. Also notice how these processes start to get smaller as we get closer to the lumbar vertebrae.

Thoracic vertebrae in this area do not typically cause disk disease

Moving towards the end of the thoracic vertebrae we come to what is termed the thoracolumbar (T-L) junction. As we pass into the lumbar vertebrae we have now made our way into the lower back.

It is a very common area to have disk disease

The 7 lumbar vertebrae eventually lead into the sacral vertebrae. The fused sacral vertebrae are hard to visualize because they are within the pelvis. After the sacrum we are at the tail. The section between the last lumbar and first sacral vertebrae is called the lumbosacral (L-S) junction.

Disk disease and arthritis at the L-7 and S-1 junction can be quite painful

For a fun comparison, let’s look at the lumbar radiographs of other animals besides dogs and cats. See if you can guess before looking at the answer below the radiograph picture.

This is a rabbit lumbar spine. Notice any differences?

This is from an iguana. You did see the eggs, didn’t you? Click here to see the surgery on how we removed them.

Spinal anatomy

The spinal cord is an extremely sensitive part of the nervous system. In essence, it is an extension of the brain. As the spinal cord moves from the brain down to the tail it sends out nerve branches (called nerve roots) that go to various organs.

Some of these nerve branches bring sensation back to the brain. If you are painfully pinched on your skin it is the nerve branches in your skin that relay a feeling of pain from the skin, to a local nerve branch, and eventually along your spinal cord to your brain.

At the same time that these nerve impulses are going to the brain to tell you it hurts, there are other nerves in the spinal cord that go to the muscle near the area of pain and cause a reflex movement away from the pain. The nervous system is so sophisticated and sensitive that it actually stimulates your muscles to contract so you can move away from the painful stimulus without your brain having to tell the muscles to contract. Your brain perceives the pain, but by the time you feel the pain your muscles have already contracted.

These nerve branches that come off the spinal cord are very complex and overlap with other nerve branches. This makes localization of the exact nerve branch that is causing the problem a complex diagnostic problem. Added to the fact that our patients do not talk to us, the diagnostic challenge in figuring out exactly where on the spinal cord a dog is having a problem is no simple undertaking, and sometimes needs the aid of a specialist.

This side view of a spinal cord model shows 2 vertebrae (V) with a normal disk (D) in between. One of the nerve roots (NR) can be seen coming off of the spinal cord (SC). The head is towards the left, the tail towards the right.

To keep you oriented, this is the same area on a radiograph (at L1-2). The nerve root comes out of the dark structure that looks like a horse’s head. The disk, nerve root, and spinal cord do not show up normally on a radiograph. If the disk material becomes calcified it might show up.

This view of a spinal cord model is an end-on view of how the spinal cord fits into the spinal canal. You can see how the spinal cord is enclosed by bone. If it swells it has no place to expand into, resulting in serious damage to the cord.

Pathophysiology of IVD

Classification

Type I occurs commonly in chondrodystrophic (poor cartilage and long bone development) breeds starting as early as 4 months of age.

The disk loses its moisture content and starts to mineralize. The stresses of daily living, especially jumping up and down, cause it to degenerate, ultimately rupturing its contents into the spinal canal and putting pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord.

The pressure can be so great that the blood supply to the spinal cord can be damaged also, leading to actual death of spinal cord tissue (myelomalacia). Once this starts there is no treatment, and these dogs will become paralyzed and die of respiratory failure.

In IVD disease the disk material (red) in the space between the vertebral bodies puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerve root that is leaving the spinal cord.

Type II occurs in larger dogs starting around 5 years of age. The changes in the disk occur much slower than in Type I disk disease. The disk bulges but does not actually rupture into the spinal canal. The spinal cord is not as severely injured and usually maintains its normal function. These dogs tend to show chronic pain and paresis.


The above classifications are helping in understanding IVD, but they do not always apply in every case. Large breed non-chondrodystrophic dogs can get Type I disk disease, and chondrodystrophic breeds can get Type II disk disease.

Degree of Damage

It is important to note that the speed at which a ruptured disk extrudes its material into the spinal cord is equally as important as how compressed the spinal cord becomes. Some dogs with minimal compression of the spinal cord can have severe neurologic problems because disk material extruded rapidly and severely damaged the spinal cord.

Cause

Trauma to a normal disk can cause disk material to extrude into the spinal canal. The most common cause is the natural degeneration of the disk that occurs in the chondrodystrophic breeds when young, and the larger breed dogs as they age. In most chondrodystrophic breeds it is the thoracolumbar area, the junction of the last few thoracic vertebrae and the first few lumbar vertebrae, that are involved.

Symptoms

The symptoms that occur vary from mild to severe. Much of it depends on which vertebrae is involved, how long the problem has been present, and whether the problem is Type I or Type II. It is important to follow the diagnostic process carefully when making a diagnosis.

The cervical (neck) vertebrae tend to have larger spinal canals for the spinal cord to pass through than do the vertebrae of the mid and lower back. When a disk puts pressure (whether Type I or Type I) the spinal canal has more room, so the spinal cord is subject to less compression in the neck than in the mid and lower back. Less compression means there is less of a chance that paresis or paraplegia will occur.

The following symptoms tend to occur with cervical disk disease:

  • Crying- especially when the neck is manipulated or when lowered to eat or drink
  • Poor appetite (anorexia)- pain can sometimes be so severe as to interfere with appetite
  • Muscle spasms and reluctance to move- another sequelae to the pain that can occur
  • One or both front legs might be lame- nerves to the front legs come out of the spinal canal at the cervical vertebrae.
  • Ataxia- pressure on the spinal canal at the cervical vertebrae can interfere with the nerves that innervate all 4 legs. Only rarely will this cause tetraplegia (paralysis).

When IVD occurs at the junction of the thoracic and lumbar (thoracolumbar) vertebrae, symptoms might be different than in the cervical version. Some of these symptoms depend on whether there is a Type I or Type II problem.

  • Crying in pain or shaking- a consistent symptom noticed by owners is their dog crying as if something hurts. It might happen spontaneously, or it might happen when you pet or pick your dog up. Those of us that have had a pinched nerve understand how severe this pain can become.
  • Reluctance to move- this might manifest itself as a hesitation to jump onto the bed, reluctance to go up or down stairs, or just laying around more than usual.
  • Poor appetite (anorexia)- the pain that occurs can decrease the appetite.
  • Ataxia to rear quarters- a dog might walk around as if the back end is going in a different direction than the front end. This is caused by pressure on the nerve roots that go to the rear legs.
  • Paraparesis or paralysis to rear legs- the pressure on the nerve root can become so severe that it can completely impair the nerve and cause paralysis.
  • Tense abdomen- this is called referred pain, and can mimic the symptoms of other diseases.
  • Hunched appearance- an additional problem related to pain
  • Fecal or urinary incontinence- these are relatively severe signs of thoracolumbar disease

This dachshund is exhibiting signs of pain to its rear quarters. His tail is between his legs and his abdomen is hunched up.

This dog is “down” in his rear quarters, a potential sign of IVD disease

This dog is exhibiting serious signs of IVD. It is partially paralyzed in its rear legs.

This dog is paralyzed in its back legs

When the problem progresses to this point these dogs commonly will not be able to urinate. The urine needs to be manually expressed before it passively overflows. Urine that stagnates in the bladder causes discomfort, stretches the muscles in the bladder wall so much so that muscle tone will not return, and sets up the stage for a bladder and kidney infection.

The arrows outline the distended urinary bladder of a dog with this problem

Diagnosis

Since the symptoms of IVD disease mimic those of other diseases, a thorough approach is needed to differentiate them. In every disease we encounter we follow the tenet’s of the diagnostic approach to ensure that we make an accurate diagnosis and that we do not overlook some of the diseases that are also encountered in pets as they age.

Signalment

IVD disease can occur at any age, although it tends to be a problem that affects middle aged and older dogs.
Several canine breeds are prone to getting IVD. They are called chondrodystrophic due to the shape of their bones from breeding:

  • Dachshunds (most common breed by far- up to 18% will get this disease)
  • Welsh corgi
  • Lhasa apso’s
  • Shih Tzu’s
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Bulldogs
  • Beagles
  • Pekingese

History

IVD disease is suspected in any pet that has some of the symptoms described above, especially if the dog seems in pain or has some degree of paralysis. Falling or being hit by a car gives us a clue that the spinal cord might be damaged.

Physical Exam

Routine physical exam findings might include:

  • Shaking
  • Increased heart and respiratory rates
  • Pain upon abdominal palpation
  • Pain when moving the neck
  • Weakness to the back end
  • Lameness to any of the legs

During your dog’s exam you will notice one of our doctors checking some reflexes. This exam helps localize the problem and helps to verify that the problem is indeed IVD and not some other problem. Four of the more common neurologic tests will be explained:

Panniculus

This test is performed by poking the skin gently with a needle. If the pin is felt the muscles underneath will cause the skin to temporarily “crawl”. By finding the junction where the skin no longer crawls it is possible to help localize the nerve root (remember, they overlap). The affected nerve root is usually 1-2 vertebrae in front of the spot where the skin crawls.

A gentle poke with a tiny needle is all we need for this test

Proprioceptive deficits

This is a postural reflex that tests the ability of a dog to recognize the placement of one of its limbs without actually seeing it. This tests the ability of the nerve to respond to the abnormal sensation to a foot that is bearing weight on the wrong surface.

When the wrong surface is bearing this weight it sends a signal from the nerves in the top of the foot to the spinal cord segment innervated by that foot. When the signal gets to the spinal cord segment it also travels to the brain signaling that the foot is in an abnormal position. The brain then sends a signal back down the spinal cord to the muscles that innervate the foot telling them to contract and put the foot back into normal position.

This is a sensitive test, and if a dog does not return its foot to a normal position immediately it potentially indicates a serious problem with the spinal cord. It is easily performed by placing the foot in an abnormal position. This dog should have returned its foot to a normal position immediately. Other diseases besides IVD can cause this problem (ex.- a fractured leg)

If the foot stays like this there is a deficit

Knee jerk (myostatic)reflex

This is a spinal reflex that tests the ability of the spinal cord to react to stretching of the patellar tendon. If absent or diminished it indicates a potential problem with the nerve root. If exaggerated it indicates a potential problem with the spinal cord. Other tendons besides the knee can be checked for this reflex.

Every pet has a different response to this stimulus, so it is usually repeated for accuracy

Deep pain (withdrawal) reflex

In this reflex a toe is pinched, which normally will result in withdrawal of the limb away from this painful stimulus. This occurs independent of whether or not the pain is perceived at the brain level (you already learned this at the beginning of this page in the spinal cord anatomy section). A pet with a problem in its spinal cord will have the reflex, but will not realize it is painful because the nerves that travel along the spinal cord to the brain are injured.

Dogs that show no reaction when a painful stimulus is applied to their legs are considered to have severe spinal cord injury. These dogs carry a poor prognosis for recovery, and most need immediate surgery. This is a subjective test though, and needs to be performed numerous times for proper interpretation. Some dogs don’t consciously show signs of pain, so this critical test can be misinterpreted.

Diagnostic Tests

Radiography

In some cases a radiograph is the diagnostic test of choice. Radiographs help determine if a dog’s pain or paralysis is due to IVD or some other cause. Other causes can include trauma, tumors, cysts, or infections of the vertebrae.

Dogs that have IVD might have calcified disks, collapsed disks, even calcified disk material in the spinal canal. Dogs that are radiographed for IVD disease must be under sedated or under general anesthesia for proper technique and positioning.

Some dogs with this arthritis are in pain and need medication, while others have no symptoms at all. Cats can get spondylosis also, although it is more common in dogs.

This dog has spondylosis, which is a form of arthritis due to instability of the vertebrae. This is not necessarily IVD disease.

This radiograph of a Pug shows a collapsed disk along with spondylosis between L- 2 and L- 3. You can tell it is collapsed when you compare it to the width of the disk in front and behind.

This dog has IVD disease. There is calcified disk material in the spinal canal between L-2 and L-3, and it is painful and weak in its rear legs. It has a funny name- joint mouse.

This is a cat with the problem in its last two lumbar vertebrae.

Spondylosis also occurs in animals like this iguana. The spondylosis is circled in red, along with metal clips, called hemoclips, used to tie off the blood supply to the ovaries when it was spayed.

This radiograph is from an 11 year old dog that is weak on one of its rear legs. Foreign bodies and infections are possible causes, but most likely it is a tumor. What the owner that was a “tweaked back” on their pet turned out to be a cancerous tumor, emphasizing the importance of radiography in diagnosis.

The arrow points to the involved vertebrae.

This is the same dog but from the VD view

Myelogram

As good as an x-ray is in making this diagnosis, it does not give all the information needed in some cases. Plain x-rays do not allow visualization of the actual spinal cord or nerve roots. The dye injected during a myelogram outlines the spinal cord and allows much better visualization of any pathology in the cord. Injecting a radiopaque dye into the spinal canal is of critical importance if surgery is contemplated.

This myelogram is outlining the spinal cord in the lumbar vertebrae of a dog. The vertical column of dye at the top is where the needle was inserted to inject the dye. Now we can actually visualize the spinal cord itself.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This tool is available to veterinarians and is very valuable in making a diagnosis of spinal cord disease. If the myelogram is inconclusive the MRI can provide valuable information on the health of the spinal cord.

Cats can get spinal lesions also. This is the radiograph of a 15 year old cat with a lesion in its spinal canal at the arrow. This cat is painful and not walking well on its rear quarters.

This is the x-ray and MRI report on this same cat

Treatment

Treatment depends on the severity of the problem and whether the problem is Type I or Type II. Fortunately, in many cases, especially if caught early, conservative therapy can be beneficial. Pets that have recurring problems might eventually need surgery.

Cage Rest

This is the most important treatment modality short of surgery. Cage rest means exactly what is says there can be no running, jumping, or playing. A crib or playpen will not work because dogs will try to jump out. It sometimes has to be utilized for several weeks for an adequate outcome.

Dogs that are cage rested need to be monitored carefully for progression of the problem. Serial neurologic exams are used to monitor their condition. They should be hospitalized for the first few days in order to monitor their progress.

Medication

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications are used routinely in Type I disease. Medications are highly beneficial in reducing pain and minimizing inflammation at the delicate spinal cord. The mainstay when it comes to medication is cortisone.

Muscle relaxants are also used to minimize the spasms that accompany this problem. It is imperative that any pet with IVD that is put on medication is under strict cage rest.

Pets that feel better with medication might be inclined to resume their normal activity, greatly increasing the chance that their spinal cord will suffer more damage.

Our goal is to give just enough pain medication to make the dog more comfortable, yet not so much that the dog resumes its normal activity. If a dog’s condition improves with cage rest it should be continued for up to 3 weeks. Exercise should be restricted for an additional 3 weeks.

Unfortunately, recurrence is common. Dogs that are unable to urinate properly due to this disease might also be put on antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections.

Dogs with Type II are routinely placed on anti-inflammatory medication. There are many highly effective ones available to veterinarians that greatly enhance a dog’s quality of life. You can learn more about these medications, called NSAID’s (Non steroidal anti inflammatories) in the treatment section of our arthritis page.

Surgery

Surgery is the treatment of choice for recurring problems, dogs that have not improved with conservative therapy, or those that have neurologic deficits. Dogs that are paralyzed (paraplegic) in the back legs need immediate surgery. During the surgery the goal is to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. This is done by removing a piece of the vertebral body or cleaning out the disk material that is putting pressure on the cord.

Surgery is also used to verify a diagnosis since the actual spinal cord can be visualized. In addition, even if the prognosis for recovery from paralysis is poor, surgery can minimize pain at the spinal cord if an owner is willing to deal with the long term paralysis.

Post operative care is important in dogs undergoing back surgery. They might need hydrotherapy, manual expression of their bladders, controlled walking with assistance, and lots of TLC.

This chart gives an idea of how these treatment modalities are used. These are not hard and fast rules, but more of a guideline.

Medical Therapy Surgical Therapy
First episode of pain only Several episodes of pain only
First episode of paresis or mild ataxia Several episodes of paresis or mild ataxia
Medical conditions that prevent surgery Condition that worsens with only medical therapy
Paralyzed and no deep pain response for > 48 hours Mild paralysis with deep pain response present
Symptoms of progressing myelomalacia Paralyzed and deep pain response present for less than 48 hours

A paralyzed dog can lead a very high quality of life. These dog carts work quite well.

Acupuncture

A relatively new treatment modality for IVD in dogs is acupuncture. It can be helpful in dogs that are not paralyzed or in those where anesthesia or surgery are contraindicated. Our acupuncture page has more details.

It is important to remember that it does not always work, and the prolongation of other treatment modalities should not be undertaken due to the severe and potentially irreversible nature of this disease.

Dr. P wanted to make sure the needle did not hurt an already painful dog, so he volunteered to be the “pain guinea pig”. He is happy to report that there was no problem (and he could now actually dunk a basketball!).

Here are the needles in use in Addison (the Pug whose x-rays you saw previously).

VNA (also called VOM)

In the last few years our doctors have been using this treatment method in almost every case of IVD when the pet is not paralyzed. It is called VNA, and it stands for Veterinary Neuronal Adjustment. It has changed the way we look at this disease, and give us a new tool to treat without the use of drugs. Our VNA page has more details.

VNA is used on a variety of different species like this iguana

We even use it on rabbits


In addition to VNA we also use the Therapy Laser as mentioned in the dog VNA video. Our Therapy Laser page has the scoop on this treatment of this painful disease also.

Pets that are uncomfortable or painful from disk disk just lay there while we treat them. They even get to wear the cool laser glasses if they want!

Prevention

Since this seems to be a heritable disease it is theorized that screening of dachshunds at 2 years of age with radiographs, looking for disk calcification, can be an early indicator for IVD.

Keeping these dogs out of the breeding pool might decrease the incidence of this disease. This is similar to taking radiographs for hip dysplasia at 2 years of age to screen for this problem before breeding.

Keep your dogs weight normal for its breed, and do not let it do any excessive jumping.

Be observant for any signs of this problem so we can institute medical therapy and not need to resort to surgery.

Prognosis

IVD is a serious and potentially crippling disease. If your dog exhibits any of the previously described symptoms it needs an immediate exam by one of our doctors. If the problem is caught early enough the outcome of this disease is usually satisfactory. If you own one of the breeds that is predisposed to this disease it is important to closely observe for the symptoms of IVD disease.


Pressure on a nerve by bone or by soft tissue such as tendons, muscle or cartilage is the cause of a pinched nerve. The pressure on a nerve interrupts the nerve's normal function and your dog is likely to experience symptoms of pain, weakness in the limbs, numbness or tingling. Injury through over-energetic exercise is one cause of the condition, but it can also be hereditary. It is most likely that your dog will experience a pinched nerve in his neck and upper spine, although the leg and hip joints can also be affected.

He won't be able to tell you about the numbness or tingling, but he will show you that he is in pain and you'll be able to see if he has weakness in his limbs. One of the signs you should watch for is a stiffness in his walk and a lack of mobility generally. He is also likely to yelp when you touch him or try to make him move. This might also result in a sudden aggressiveness in your ordinarily placid dog, and you may find he growls, or tries to bite you, when you come near him. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, you should get him to your vet as soon as possible, as the longer the condition is left untreated, the harder it can be to treat.


Watch the video: Top Chest Opening Exercise to Help Pinched Nerve and Neck Pain. Dr Mandell