Ask the vet: spine issues

RACQ, in partnership with Animal Welfare League Queensland, can help solve your pet problems.

RACQ, in partnership with Animal Welfare League Queensland, can help solve your pet problems.

Got a curly problem with your favourite pooch? Is your cat being too catty?

While animals can bring much joy into our lives, they are not always problem free. If there is an animal issue that you need help to solve, send your question to via RACQ to the Animal Welfare League Queensland experts, to find the answer.

Spine issues

What can we do to prevent spinal issues developing for our five-year-old dachshund Ruby? Is this a common problem for all dachshunds to have spinal issues throughout their life?

AWLQ experts say

Intervertebral Disc Disease can occur in about 25 percent of dachshunds. Typically, signs appear when the dog is between three and eight years old. However, they are not ever immune no matter what age. Luckily there are some lifestyle and preventative measures you can take to help reduce the risk.

  • Keep your dog within its healthy weight range. Excess weight can put a strain on their spine.
  • Limit jumping and stairs – always aiding them with ramps or carrying them when required.
  • Stop or limit your dog from walking or crawling underneath low furniture or spaces.
  • Limit slippery floors by using rugs, floor mats, or limit access. Keep your dog’s nails cut short.
  • Walk your dog on a harness. Keep your dog active with regular walks but do not over exert your dog.

There are many other things you can do depending on your dog’s lifestyle so talking to your vet for further advice would be advised.

Getting fishy

Princess, my nine-year-old Maltese Terrier has a limp. I’m wondering if dogs can have arthritis issues and whether fish oil can help?

AWLQ experts say

Yes, dogs can get arthritis and it is becoming much more common as our pets live longer due to improved health care. Often a dog with arthritis will limp when he or she first gets up after lying down for a while. You may also notice that she used to run up the stairs or jump into the car but doesn’t anymore, or that she is particularly bad on cold days.

The first thing you need to do is rule out other causes of limb lameness by having an examination by your vet. Sometimes there has been an injury (torn ligaments or other soft tissue damage, bone damage) or there is a disease process (such as cancer, infection, inflammation) and the vet can have a good look and feel over the leg. X-rays or other diagnostics may be indicated to diagnose of the cause of lameness.

Once you are confident Princess has arthritis you can chose to provide a variety of treatments to help keep her comfortable. Fish oil is a good supplement as the omega 3 fatty acids are known to help joints. There are also numerous other supplements available from pet stores and vets that contain ingredients that seem to help (such as chondroitin, glucosamine and green lipped mussel). Synovan is a drug vets give by injection which many owners find really helps old stiff dogs. It is an anti-osteoarthritic drug that helps slow joint degeneration and can be given once a month after the initial coarse. Sometimes vets will prescribe pain relief/anti-inflammatory medications if pets are really stiff and sore.

A soft bed in a warm place and daily gentle exercise will also help her stay comfortable.

What’s your question?

Send your pet questions to and Animal Welfare League Queensland‘s experts will provide the answers. Letters will not receive an individual reply and should be no more than 120 words.

AWLQ work with local councils, state government, rescue groups and the community to improve the outcomes for stray and surrendered pets.