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Spondylosis, also known as Spondylosis Deformans is a degenerative condition which affects the spine and tends to be seen in older dogs. It is most commonly seen in the thoracic vertebrae (chest), lumbar spine (lower back) and in the lumbosacral spine (hips and back legs) and can either be found in a single site or multiple locations. Spondylosis begins with the degeneration of the sharpey fibres which are the outer portion of the intervertebral disc. The inner disc then starts to protrude, stretching the ligaments allowing bony spurs or osteophytes to develop causing bridges between the vertebrae. These bridges can limit flexibility and range of motion and in some cases can actually fuse the vertebrae together. The osteophytes can also start pressing on to the surrounding tissues and nerves resulting in pain and discomfort and in some cases causing motor and sensory disturbances. Referred pain is often seen with this condition as any pressure on exiting spinal nerves can cause pain in other areas of the body.


Spondylosis is normally seen in older dogs but can be caused by repetitive bone wear and stress or through a major injury or trauma. It can also be caused by a genetic predisposition but can also be seen in dogs who have poor nutrition, high levels of stress and  who have no or very little exercise.

Symptoms of Spondylosis


  • Stiffness

  • Lameness

  • Sensitivity to touch

  • Motor and sensory disturbances

  • Reluctance to sit

  • Lack of proprioception on pelvic limbs

  • Back pain

  • Loss of balance

  • Yelping when turning or twisting

  • Roaching of back

  • Restricted movement and rotation

  • Growths you can feel along the dog's back

  • Difficulty standing

  • Gait irregularities

  • Muscle weakness in thoracic limbs

  • Paralysed

How massage can help


  • Ease overall pain

  • Help to control referred pain

  • Ease surrounding tissues

  • Increase mobility and flexibility

  • Helps any other secondary muscular and compensatory issues

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Helps to remove metabolic waste and damaged cells from the body’s tissues

  • Releases endorphins which helps manage pain

  • Relaxes the dog, improving mood and sense of well being

  • Increases metabolic rate, helping to reduce weight on joints

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