Alleviating Neck and Back Pain

Phototherapy for Canine Comfort

Patient Profile


Alaska, a spirited Siberian Husky, recently faced a neck injury after a tumble down a hill. Having experienced the exceptional care of PetLight in the past for a torn ACL, Alaska’s owners knew where to turn for help. PetLight swiftly assessed Alaska’s condition and recommended a tailored phototherapy treatment plan.

Alaska underwent ten phototherapy sessions over three weeks, showcasing the incredible potential of phototherapy in healing. Thanks to the dedicated team at PetLight and their innovative treatment, Alaska made a full recovery, just as she had after her previous ACL injury.

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Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from neck and back pain that can significantly impact their quality of life. Recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, and exploring effective treatments are essential for providing our furry companions with the care they deserve. In this article, we’ll delve into how neck or back pain can manifest in dogs, the underlying reasons, common treatments, and the promising role of phototherapy in alleviating this discomfort.

How Neck or Back Pain Can Present Itself in Dogs (Symptoms)

Recognizing the signs of neck pain or back pain in dogs is crucial to ensuring prompt care and relief. Dogs may not be able to communicate their discomfort verbally, so it’s essential to pay attention to behavioral and physical changes. Common symptoms of neck or back pain in dogs include:

Altered Gait: Dogs may exhibit an abnormal gait, such as limping, favoring one side, or moving cautiously. This change in movement is often an attempt to minimize pain and discomfort.

Difficulty Jumping or Climbing: Dogs with neck or back pain may struggle to jump onto furniture or climb stairs, indicating mobility issues.

Reduced Activity: A typically active dog may become lethargic, preferring to rest rather than engage in physical activities. This reduced activity can be a response to pain.

Muscle Stiffness: You may notice tense or stiff muscles, particularly along the spine. Muscle stiffness can result from the body’s attempt to protect the affected area.

Yelping or Whining: Dogs may vocalize in response to pain, especially when touched or moved in a specific way. This vocalization is a clear sign of distress and may sound like crying or screaming.

Changes in Posture: Pets might assume a hunched or arched back position to alleviate pain, or they may have an inability to raise/lower their head. Altered posture is an instinctive reaction to discomfort.

Loss of Appetite: Pain can cause dogs and cats to lose interest in food. This appetite change is often a secondary effect of their primary discomfort.

Why Neck or Back Pain Might Occur in Dogs

Understanding the reasons behind neck or back pain in dogs can aid in prevention and treatment. Some common causes include:

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): This condition occurs when the discs between the vertebrae deteriorate or herniate, putting pressure on the spinal cord. IVDD can lead to severe pain and even paralysis in some cases.

Arthritis: Osteoarthritis can affect the neck and spine, leading to pain and reduced mobility. This chronic inflammatory condition worsens over time.

Muscle Strain: Overexertion or sudden movements can strain the muscles supporting the neck and back. Muscle strain is a common acute cause of pain.

Trauma: Accidents, falls, or other injuries can cause immediate pain or long-term issues. Trauma-related pain often requires urgent medical attention.

Infections or Inflammation: Infections or other inflammatory conditions can affect the spinal area, causing discomfort and the need for treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications.

Common Treatments for Neck and Back Pain in Dogs

When it comes to managing neck pain and back pain in dogs, there are several treatment options. These are ones you may commonly hear from your veterinarian:

Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain relievers may be prescribed by a veterinarian to alleviate pain and inflammation. These medications can provide relief but should be used under veterinary guidance due to potential side effects.

Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation exercises and massages can help improve muscle strength and mobility. Physical therapy is especially beneficial for chronic conditions like arthritis.

Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce strain on the spine and alleviate pain. Weight management often involves a combination of diet and exercise adjustments.

Rest and Restricted Activity: Giving the dog time to heal and minimizing strenuous activity is often recommended. Rest allows the body to recover naturally.

Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary, particularly for conditions like IVDD. Surgical intervention aims to correct the underlying issue causing pain.

How Phototherapy Can Help with Neck and Back Pain in Dogs

Phototherapy or low-level light therapy (LLLT), is gaining recognition as a valuable treatment option for animal neck and back pain. This non-invasive therapy involves exposing the affected area to low-level laser or LED light. At PetLight we use a pad of hundreds of LEDs to apply a dense area of light. Here’s how it can benefit dogs:

Pain Reduction: Photobiomodulation therapy stimulates the release of endorphins, natural pain relievers, reducing the dog’s discomfort. This results in improved comfort and mobility.

Inflammation Reduction: The therapy helps control inflammation, contributing to faster healing. By reducing swelling and inflammation, it promotes a more comfortable recovery process.

Improved Blood Circulation: Enhanced blood flow promotes tissue repair and regeneration. Increased circulation ensures that vital nutrients and oxygen reach the affected area, aiding in healing.

Non-Invasive and Safe: Phototherapy is a non-surgical, non-drug-based option with minimal side effects. It provides a gentle and safe approach to pain management for dogs and cats.

Accelerated Healing: It can expedite the healing process after surgery or injury. Photobiomodulation therapy helps animals recover more quickly and resume their normal activities.

In conclusion, neck and back pain can be debilitating for dogs, affecting their overall well-being. Recognizing the symptoms, addressing the underlying causes, and exploring effective treatments, including phototherapy, can provide much-needed relief and improve the quality of life for our friends. Always consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan for your dog’s specific needs.