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Friday, 28 February 2014

Help my collie get back on track

I've been reading Dogs Today for a few years now but this is the first time I've asked for advice. My Border Collie has suffered an injury to his back. My vet thinks its a trapped nerve or a slipped disk and as given him anti-inflammatory (rimifin) tablets with six-weeks rest. If that doesn't work its not looking good as he's 12 years old.

Has anybody tried anything along the lines of hydrotherapy, Tellington touch or reflexology in cases like this, or could recommend anything to get him more mobile?

Any advice would be much appreciated

Ray Thrush, by email

My advice is to find a vet who practises acupuncture – check the website for details of vets in your area. Acupuncture has a good success rate in relieving pain and discomfort in all spinal conditions, and can often slow or stop deterioration of disc (and other spinal) problems.

Hydrotherapy and manipulative therapies such as osteopathy and chiropractic should be considered with great caution, as there is the possibility of aggravating the condition, and a definite diagnosis of exactly what is causing the symptoms would be necessary before any such therapy could be advised.

Massage therapies such as the Bowen technique and Tellington T touch may have some beneficial effect, as might reflexology, but none of these are likely to give the same level of improvement as acupuncture.

Natural herbal anti inflammatories such as Turmeric, Devil’s claw and Yarrow complex would be helpful and could well be effective enough to replace the pharmaceutical drugs your vet has dispensed, which often cause adverse effects in dogs, especially if given long term.

I’m sure there are natural treatments that will help your Border Collie – in my view 12 years is not old – it should be the prime of life!


  1. Has the diagnosis been confirmed by the vet? Has your dog been x-rayed to investigate?
    If not, I would ask the vet to do so. It would be better if anyone providing a complimentary/alternative treatment was fully aware of the condition they were working with.

    We had a collie of 13 years who had a trapped nerve /slipped disc. His back legs stopped working and we thought we had come to the end. However, his mind was still very much willing and he wasn't giving up. He had pain relief and we helped him move around for a couple of weeks with the aid of a doggy sling/ walking aid. You can actually make a good cheap collie sized one by using one of those eco shopping bags like Wilkinsons sell for less than a pound! They are strong enough to support a collie in comfort. In our lad's case, with his pain relief, gentle slow supported exercise - even though he still wanted to race about because his front legs could, and with some gentle massage and TTouch techniques after about 2 weeks he was back to supporting himself and walking unaided.

    Wishing you and your dog all the best.
    Wiccaweys Rescued Border Collies

  2. I would ask for a referral to an orthopaedic specialist. Our dobermann has been operated on by Noel Fitzpatrick four times (back and legs). Beau recently had another injury so we took him back for another consultation. Beau is 11 years 11 months so it would be dangerous to operate on him. But we're now taking him to Noel's hydrotherapy and physiotherapy specialists. We're given exercises to do at home and he's improving. Two weeks ago I was practically having to carry him outside to go to the toilet, now he's walking well again. But we're being careful with him, not letting him do too much; sleeping downstairs with him and lifting him in and out of the car. Good luck with your dog, hope he makes a good recovery.

    Gill Arney

  3. Christine Dogs Today5 March 2014 at 07:00

    I agree with Gill, I think you really need an expert diagnosis, but once you have that you could consider asking for referral to a chiropractor. Acupuncture is fantastic for pain relief, too.

  4. Hi my german shepherd has acupuncture on her back as she has nerve problems and it works wonders on her, she is like a puppy again enjoying walks and play where as before the treatment she was like an old lady could hardly get off her bed she is 11years old and been having it for four years. glad she has the treatment really would recommend it makes such a difference to her.