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Many dogs suffer in silence

A recent survey has shown that dogs are unnecessarily suffering from undiagnosed neck injuries.

Research by the Galen Therapy Centre has found that 38% of dogs who had visited one of its Myotherapists in the past year had been found to be suffering from serious, undiagnosed neck issues. Without correct diagnosis the problem can intensify creating a complexity of symptoms that can range from behavioural changes to extreme pain and discomfort and a lack of sensory perception, especially the ability to scent.

‘Diagnosis is always difficult because the area (neck) is particularly well muscled therefore making palpation difficult and conventional methods of diagnosis e.g. radiography don't always show changes immediately,’ says Veterinarian Andy Mead BVet Med MRCVS.

Of those surveyed 2% of the dogs were about to be put to sleep, but thanks to myotherapy treatment which involves palpation (a study of the body’s muscular and fascial connections using the hands) the Galen Myotherapists® were able to identify the injury and return the dog to full health in an average of only three treatments.

Another surprising finding was that 78% of those found to have the undiagnosed neck problem were pet dogs and only 42% working dogs. The most common reason for neck problems in a dog is that they have suffered an accident, such as, crashing into immovable objects when they are young, such as stairs or walls. They may also have jumped down from a great height i.e. over walls/barriers that were higher than the dog thought and incurred whiplash injuries, fallen onto the top of their heads, or their heads were forced upwards during boisterous play.

Alternatively, an injury can occur elsewhere in the body, such as when the hind legs or lower back is compromised and all the weight is thrown forwards onto the neck causing strain and eventually injury.

Although an owner may be aware of the accident, the dog’s real injuries may not immediately be apparent (according to the survey these have shown to occur on average 13 months after a known event), as the body compensates and may actually only show once the dog develops a symptom, such as, a limp due to carrying its neck in the wrong position.

Julia Robertson, Head Practitioner at the Galen Therapy Centre says: ‘These accidents could have happened when they were a puppy but can become evident up to 6-8 years later. An injury does not just go away without suitable management and treatment.’

Flicka is a 12-year-old Border Collie who suffered a neck injury when she fell backwards and her handler tried to catch her with her collar, which caused a massive trauma over the brachial plexus that lies under a neck muscle and supports the main motor nerves for the muscles. As a result her muscles deteriorated very quickly and Flicka was on Trimadol, one of the most powerful pain killers. But after only three treatments from a Myotherapist Flicka was soon back to full health!
Signs of neck issues in dogs:

l Dry nose (in an otherwise healthy dog)

l Front leg lameness

l Having a bad neck can affect a dog’s behaviour. Signs could be: eating more quickly due to the discomfort of stretching down, gathering their beds into a bundle to form a pillow, not turning to the right or left easily, laying their head in your lap to rub their neck, stretching their front legs more often than just when they get up.

l With a neck issue it affects the whole as 2/3 of the dog’s weight is on the front end therefore if they are trying to get the weight off that end then they will have back issues.

l Reduced scenting ability

l Visible symptoms, such as, a dry nose, bad eyes/ears, thickened neck (you will notice the collar getting too small or they will seem to have gained weight over their neck and shoulders.

l Heat in their neck or more likely on the top of their heads that can also connect with other signs of a headache such as seeking dark areas or moving themselves into a quiet place.

l 100 dogs who had visited the Galen Therapy Centre in the past year were selected at random for this survey.

For further information regarding the Galen Therapy Centre or Galen Myotherapy, visit or contact the Galen Therapy Centre on 0845 3751767 or email

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