Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Does My Dog's Neck Hurt?

Last week, my dog experienced neck pain for what was probably the first time in her life. Thankfully, I was able to quickly and easily identify what was wrong with her. How? Well, after working as a Veterinary Technician for several years I've personally seen other dogs with neck pain and know what the symptoms and signs of neck pain in dogs are.


Still, you don't have to have a background in Veterinary Medicine to be able to tell something is not quite right with your dog. The symptoms of neck pain in dogs is fairly easy to identify.

First of all, I noticed Shiner, my dog, seemed much less active than normal and wasn't quite feeling herself. I knew she was sick, but I didn't know why just yet. I observed her closely for the rest of the day and after watching her, I was able to determine that her neck hurt.

What kind of symptoms did my dog exhibit with her neck pain?

  • Walking very slowly and cautiously. 
  • Unwilling to jump up or down. Even just small steps from our porch to the yard or off of the couch. 
  • Not wanting to lift her head and holding downwards towards the ground. She also wouldn't move it side to side. 
  • Walking around with a hunched back. 
Other symptoms of neck pain that a dog might experience could be not wanting to eat or drink, general lethargy, whimpering in pain. or yelping when touched in a certain spot. Thankfully, Shiner did not experience these symptoms. 

After observing those neck pain symptoms in my dog, I decided to do a little exam on her. I gently massaged her neck to see if she showed any signs of pain. While trying to lift her head upwards, she would begin to tremble and resist. So, I decided to watch her and restrict her activity for the rest of the day. 

The next day, she still seemed to be in pain and her neck was still bothering her. Being that it was Friday and the weekend was fast approaching, I decided to call her Veterinarian and schedule an appointment. I would hate to have made a trip to the Emergency Clinic, so better safe than sorry. And I hadn't seen any improvement with her symptoms anyways, so it was definitely time to go. 

Exploring the exam room. 

Taking your dog to the Vet for neck pain is going to be your best option for treatment. There really aren't safe over-the-counter drugs you can give to your dog for pain. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are toxic to dogs, and should never be given. 

Shiner's Vet prescribed her a pain medication, a muscle relaxer, and an anti-inflammatory drug for dogs. After Shiner took her medicine, she felt much better. Still, I needed to watch her to make sure she didn't do too much jumping. She could easily have injured herself further. 

What caused my dog's neck pain? Well, I'm still not completely sure. Sometimes, it just happens with normal day to day activity. I am thinking possibly our game of tug-of-war could have done it. Or even her pulling on her collar. Which is a good reason why it's smart to wear a harness. Shiner usually wears a harness, but sometimes she just wears her collar. 

Back to doing her normal dog stuff. 

Shiner is feeling much better now after just a few short days. I haven't even needed to give her that much medication. Has your dog ever experienced neck pain before? How did you help them feel better? 

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36 comments:

  1. Shiner I hope the pains go away completely soon. I sometimes worry that Easy could hurt his neck when he pulls on the leash like a mule... maybe we will use the harness more often...
    easy rider

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  2. Hope shiner is better soon. Will definitely look out for this in the future, thanks for sharing the signs to look for

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  3. Aw Shiner, hope you feel better soon!
    Great info to have in my arsenal!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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  4. SO glad you're doing better, Shiner! Great info!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your experience with Shiner. And so glad she's feeling better. There are so many possible causes of neck pain for dogs so going to the vet and limiting activity is the best thing to do. My Caspian has disc disease and syringomyelia, both in his neck and both quite painful. His pain symptoms are similar to Shiner's. Thankfully, with medical management, he can be okay.

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    1. Thank you! Sorry to hear about Caspian, but sounds like you are caring for him well. Another good reason to go to the vet is that this can be more serious, as in your Caspian's case. Fortunately, ours was likely just a sprain or very mild pain.

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    2. Caryn: How have you treated your dog with those 2 problems? My 4 lb Pomeranian has neck soreness right now and we are trying a conservative treatment with meds before doing an MRI because those are two things these say she might have.

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  6. Awww poor Shiner! I hope she's feeling better today! Titan and I are sending love her way.

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  7. No neck pain, but back pain, pulled muscles, stuff like that. It is important to know your dog and know when they do something different. Many people don't pay enough attention to their dog's behavior.

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    1. Definitely true... dogs will try to hide their symptoms a little bit sometimes, but they aren't nearly as good at it as cats are.

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  8. I hope Shiner heals quickly and gets to go back to her usual self. My dog gets them once in a while when she has had an overly rambunctious day. I think its similar to us having a sore neck or shoulder from lifting something to heavy or just feeling achy after a hard workout.
    Good luck :)
    www.southernfolly.com

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  9. Awwww poor baby. I never knew this about neck pain in dogs. But I guess it makes sense, especially if they wear a regular collar and pull on the leash when walking. This is great information. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Glad to hear that Shiner is feeling better. Thanks for sharing these tips!

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  11. Dang Shiner, we sure hope the all better finds you and stays around!

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  12. Thanks for telling us about the symptoms as it is always good to learn about these things. We so hope Shiner is better soon. Sending healing vibes and POTP. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  13. Aww, Shiner :( I'm so glad she is feeling better. I haven't experienced neck pain with Mauja or Atka, but I'm sure it's something that will happen in the future. Thanks for the tips on symptoms to be aware of.

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  14. Poor Shiner. I am glad she is better.

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  15. So glad that Shiner feels better! What we learned is think of how you feel with a stiff and sore neck and notice that you do the same things that Shiner did. Good job diagnosing. Love Dolly

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  16. That's some scary stuff! So happy this has a happy ending. Thanks for sharing the signs also, I didn't have a clue.

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  17. Thanks for the tips on what to look for. I am really glad to learn that Shiner is feeling better.

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  18. First of all, I'm so glad Shiner is feeling better! We haven't experienced this yet, but it is great to know what to watch for. I think beagles might be prone to neck problems (or maybe it's back), so we have stairs going up to our high bed and our couch to try to reduce Cricket's jumping, and we almost always use harnesses too.

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    1. Thanks! You are right, they are prone to both back and neck problems. Our bed is really not that high off of the ground thankfully. It might be about as tall as Shiner's back I guess. Stairs and harnesses are great for reducing injuries!

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  19. My doggie had back pain so I took her to the chiropracter and it helped so much! I think she's due for another visit. She was not wanting to jump as much and when I rubbed her shoulder blades, they were warm to the touch and her skin would jump. I'm starting to notice it again and will make another appointment. So many people don't realize that animals get back pain, too! Thanks for sharing your story.

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  20. Whenever either of my dogs get something like this I do energy healing on them which seems to work really well in these cases. It help them relax deeply and allows them to self heal quicker. Not sure what your thoughts are on energy healing but from personal experience it works for me. Of course I always say it's a complementary therapy and should be used with the vets suggestions.

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  21. My doggie is Max a lhasa apso and hes got neck pain as well. Night before last he wouldnt walk or lay down. He just stood there shaking and crying. He wouldnt eat or drink or lift his head up, so was impossible to give meds. Id try to lift his head to take meds and hed scream. This went on from 9pm til 230pm the next day. He finally laid down for 2 hrs. Then he was at it again. Wouldnt eat or drink, or sit or look up but now he was panting hard. Doc had him on Rimadyl, Tramadol, and methocarbomene. I called the vet and he scalled in prednisone and checked him again. Neck trauma. This has been a nightmare. Its so important that they take their meds. My poor doggie was in agony. I thought I was gonna have to put him down. He finally collapsed after standing again for 7 more hours. After a long 7 hour sleep he awoke hungry and took his meds but was in pain. Were better now. This has been hell though.

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    1. I'm sorry Jem, but glad that he's better now. My dog also took the same medications for her neck pain. Fortunately, hers was not as severe as your dog's and she started feeling better within just a few days. It's tough when they are hurting!

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    2. That's crazy that you say that because my dog is having the same issue. We don't know what he did. He was on 4 meds and now he's on 3... I really hope he gets better. It's so upsetting to see them like that.

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    3. Oh and how long did it take to heal?

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    4. It is hell ~ going thru it right now ~ my poor baby has had 3 painful spasms today

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  22. Well, I dont know whats wrong with my puppy but hes not able to move his neck sometimes, and when it happens i have to put him on heat, i need to figure out whats wrong with him but i've tried everything, only time he feels better is when hes on the heat, when he was born he wasnt able to breathe, he was born may 7th but i dont know what could be causing his neck to go stiff and all this, I swear the thought of him being hurt is killing me inside, i love him to death.

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  23. I too am trying conservative treatment with my 7 lb yorkie. I see that this was back in March. I am trying to avoid an MRI as I was quoted at 1500. She was at the vet 2 days ago because of sudden neck pain. Yelping for no reason, shaking, hunching over, and standing in place. We have her on crate rest, the vet gave her an anti inflammatory, and I've done spinal massages plus warm compresses. What was the out come for your dog? I'm also going to look in to acupuncture but will call the vet before we do so. I can't wait out the 2 weeks they gave me. I just want her to feel better she's only 9 and my baby.

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    1. Sorry to hear this! My dog's outcome was very good. She actually felt better in about 2 days and acted as though nothing had ever happened to her. My vet does believe she has a "stiff neck" still, possibly causing some discomfort. Another thing you might look into is a chiropractic along with acupuncture.

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  24. We did strict crate rest for 5 weeks minimum; I bought a couple small puppy play pens for feeding/water & going potty, we transported her in her kennel so we could avoid picking her up at all. Fortunately she uses potty pads so we never had to take her outside. She was on Gabapentin and Rimadyl for a month and I still restricted her freedom for probably a total of 2 months...kept her separated from my other two because they like to rough play. I can safely and thankfully say she's recovered. The playpens helped a lot and she was happy in them, I would recommend it!

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    1. We aren't really sure but we think that my dog was scared from lightning so he jumped off the couch and sprained his neck. A few days later it become worse. I took my dog to the emergency vet on August 6th. They put him on Methocarbamol and Tramadol. Then I needed to take him into the primary for a follow up which was on the 8th. The primary vet gave him Gabapentin and Rimadyl so he was now taking all 4. He was extremely messed up. I gave him his last dose of Methocarbamol on the 11th and now he seems to be in more pain because he wouldn't let me put his harness around feet and up to his legs. I barely touched him with it on his chest/neck area and he gave out a big yelp so I had to just let him walk out in the backyard. The emergency vet wouldn't refill any medications until I came in there again but it turns out that he heard the mailman and ran about 15 feet and started barking but then let out a big yelp and walked slowly back to his bed. He now has an appointment tomorrow on the 13th for a checkup at his primary. I am not sure how much more I can take this. He has only been hurt since like Monday the 2nd but I didn't get back home till the 4th. I thought I was going to be able to play with him. This is been very stressful and it is VERY hard watching your baby go through so much pain.

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  25. Mike and Gay LyallDecember 2, 2016 at 6:40 PM

    I did a search a few moments ago hoping to find solid information on neck pain in dogs. That is how I found this site. Our dog, Toby, is 20 pounds and between 12 and 14 years old. My husband can't remember the year he adopted him. We have six dogs, 4 birds and one cat who is, believe it or not, over 25 years old. Toby has more personality than all the rest of them put together. About two years ago, I stepped to the door to look outside and saw Toby just sitting there. He was whining very quietly. I called to him but rather than hop up and come barreling up the ramp to the doggie door, he just looked over his shoulder at me with the most pitiful little face I've ever seen a dog make in my life. He couldn't pick his back end up. They were all out there playing. Two of our dogs are standard poodles, over twice Toby's weight and a great deal taller. I picked him up and brought him back in the house and spent the rest of the day on the floor with him. He was still paralyzed in his back end when my husband got home, so since I had a class he took him straight to the vet...where he stayed for over a month getting meds and kept on crate rest. He eventually was able to stand and walk again and before long, he was back to his usual bouncy self. My husband can't remember if the vet gave Toby a specific diagnosis but my husband has always believed that the larger dogs must have accidentally jumped on him when they were all playing and injured his back. Whatever the problem was, it has been getting worse the past month. Toby's preferred way of getting on the bed is to put his front paws on the side of the bed, we put a hand on the back of his neck, he pushes against our hand and that way, he's able to get up on the bed without having to use his back end. He just walks the floors at night if he is not allowed to sleep between us, underneath both the sheet and the blanket. Sometimes I worry he's going to have a heat stroke under there but he loves it like nobody's business. Three days ago, he hopped off the bed by himself and since then he wobbles when he walks, keeps his head low, can't turn in a tight circle, cries when we put our hand on the back of his neck, cries when I tried (once) to help him up by grasping him immediately behind his front legs and tonight, worst of all, he was sitting in my husband's lap, turned his head to the left and screamed. I did not know a dog could actually scream but he did and his neck seemed to get stuck for a few seconds. It was horrifying. Friday night, way the hell out in the country, with no vet anywhere we could get him to until tomorrow morning. When he was recovering from the temporary paralysis, the vet told my husband Toby needed laser treatments weekly. We never followed up on that because we just assumed the cost would be prohibitive. I just learned last week that treatments are only $45 each so definitely starting those ASAP. We just can't figure out what's wrong with him. Two years ago, it was his back end. Now, quite quickly, it has become his entire back, his neck, his front legs and when he walks, one of his back legs will just take on a life of its own and flops around almost like it isn't even attached to his body. We are worried sick. We adore all of our animals. Of course, we do, else we would not have an entire pack of them living inside our home. Toby, however, is a very, very special little dog. His vet of many years has just implemented a new rule whereby we are not allowed in the exam room with our animals anymore. I don't like that one little bit. There is another vet no further away who is a bit more expensive but he does let the animals have their humans in the exam room with them, so I'm trying to talk my husband into changing vets. Do you have any idea what condition could just overtake a little guy? Why in the world would his head get stuck like that? It happened about an hour ago and my stomach is still in knots over it.

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    1. Sorry to hear about little Toby! I do agree that this particular instance sounds like neck pain. It really could be any number of problems... perhaps some less debilitating than others ranging from a sprain to ruptured discs that may require surgery. My dog had another episode with her neck since I've written this post that was much more dramatic. I actually tried acupuncture for her and it worked great. I don't have much experience with the lasers but have heard good things about it. Good luck to you and Toby. I hope he's feeling better soon.

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