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    PeterDobias.com / Blog / Health Knowledge

    Carrying your dog the wrong way can cause back problems

    By Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

    Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. His love of dogs and passion for natural healing and nutrition led him to writing, teaching and helping people create health naturally, without drugs, chemicals and processed food.

    How to carry a chihuahua and other dogs
    It looks like the world is going to the small dogs. Houses are getting more expensive and having a Great Dane or Saint Bernard is like trying to fit an elephant in the house. It's natural that many people are inclined to get a smaller, 'fuel efficient,' green-certified dog that often weighs only a few pounds.
    What I've noticed over the years is that these little pooches are prone to two common problems, poor breeding (I hate puppy mills!) and back issues.

    I've become intrigued by a very interesting pattern:
    • The dogs that suffer from back problems are usually carried around their underarms with their hind end hanging down over the arm
    • Their back muscles are commonly contracted and twisted to one side
    • They are commonly carried only on one side and the guardians are unaware that they do this
    Thanks to the kindness of a client, I've been able to take the following images to demonstrate the most common mistakes people make when carrying their dogs. 
    Figure 1. You can see that the front legs are extended in an unnatural position, which can cause elbow, shoulder and scapular injuries. The hind legs are hanging down without any support, which causes increased stress on the lumbar spine. 

    Figure 2. You can see here that carrying a dog underarm also places the thoracic lumbar spine in an unnaturally curved position. If the dog is carried on one side repeatedly, a one-sided muscle shortening will likely result in back problems.


    Figure 3. This picture is a little better. You can see that the hind end is supported and is not hanging down. However, the foreleg is still in an unnatural extension and the back is flexed excessively. If a dog is carried like this often, you'll see increased curvature and possible back issues. 


    Figure 4. The back arch is much more straight here and the arms are surrounding the torso for more support. The foreleg is still in an unnatural position. 


    Figure 5. You can see that the thumb is in the armpit here, which is not as safe as moving the palm back to support the chest.

    Figure 6. Another example of too much strain on the shoulder region.  

    Figure 7. Lucky number 7. This is the best way to carry a little dog. It's much better to create a platform with your arms  - support the back and allow the front legs to be in a natural sitting or lying down position. 

    Your dog is as old as his/her spine
    My experience is there is a surprisingly high number of dogs with back problems from being carried around. A healthy spine is important for many reasons - to avoid pain, for proper sensation, due to its relationship to the internal organs and for movement because the spine is integral to the movement of limbs. 
    The lower thoracic and lumbar regions are responsible for the proper function of the kidneys, adrenal glands, the small and large intestines, bladder sphincter and hind leg strength.

    If your dog suffers from back issues here's what I suggest:
    • Carry him or her with the back supported and forelegs in a natural position
    • Never lift your dog by pulling their front legs
    • Consider checking your dog’s minerals levels. Muscles and the back often reflect deficiencies and toxicity
    • A well-nourished body has much greater capacity to recover.  An all-natural, raw or cooked diet is preferred
    • Give your dog all-natural essentials to ensure proper muscle function and muscle fiber regeneration. The body needs all the building blocks to function properly and soil minerals and nutrients are severely depleted in our food. The right supplements will make a huge difference in your dog's ability to recover from injuries. Avoid cheap synthetic products
    • Visit an experienced chiropractor and physiotherapist (physical therapist) to check the spine
    • Take your dog for daily one to two-hour dog walks. The stronger your dog is, the less likely they will suffer from back pain
    If you like to carry your dog around a lot, you now know how to prevent injuries. However, the best place for your dog is close to the ground walking on all fours! 

    © Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

    Product Reference

    Items referenced in this article.

    Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. He graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 in the Czech Republic and obtained the Canadian Certificate of Qualification in 1995. He is currently licensed in the European Union, and his unique approach to healing and nutrition helps holistically minded dog lovers worldwide.

    Dr. Dobias strongly believes that disease prevention, natural nutrition and supplements, the right exercise and a drug free approach to medicine can add years to your dog's life.

    As a formulator of his all-natural vitamin and supplement line and co-inventor of natural, chemical free flea and tick control, FleaHex® and TickHex® his unique healing system and products currently hold the highest independent five star customer rating. For more information click here.

    Any general recommendations that Dr. Dobias makes are not a substitute for the appropriate veterinary care and are for informational and educational purposes only.

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