Why Does My Dog Arch His Back? (11 Causes)

Have you noticed that your dog has been arching its back? There are various reasons why your dog could be arching its back, some as natural as sneezing, while others are worrisome.

Understanding why your dog is arching its back is crucial in ensuring that your dog acquires the treatment it needs timeously. Understanding the various reasons can also spare you from worrying unnecessarily. We have listed 11 reasons why your dog is arching its back and ways to identify the various causes.

Why Does My Dog Arch His Back?

Your dog could be arching his back because he is in an unfamiliar environment and is scared, or your dog could simply be stretching. On the other hand, there are serious reasons why your dog is arching his back, including pain, spinal conditions, inflamed prostate, and back problems.

11 Causes Why Does My Dog Arch His Back 

11 Causes Why Does My Dog Arch His Back 

1. Your Dog Is In Pain

Dogs should generally have straight backs unless your dog’s breed naturally has arched backs; dogs should generally have straight backs. If your dog is constantly arching its back, you should take them to a veterinarian. Your dog could be experiencing severe discomfort or pain.

When dogs are in pain, they will arch their backs in an attempt to lessen the pain. If your dog is also shaking, limping, and hanging its tail, it is an indication that they are in pain.

2. Back Problems

There are several causes of back problems in dogs. Among those causes are old age, injuries, and arthritis. As dogs get older, their bones weaken and become more prone to pain. Arthritis is a condition that results in damaged joints. 

Symptoms of back problems include stiffness, shaking legs, lack of balance, restricted mobility, and back arching. If you notice these symptoms, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for a diagnosis.

3. Abdominal issues

Dogs tend to arch their backs when they experience abdominal discomfort. In contrast, abdominal pain is usually a common occurrence and might not require you to worry much because they generally go away after a while.

However, abdominal pain may indicate that your dog is affected by health issues such as canine parvovirus, pancreatitis, and cancer. 

4. Stretching

dog stretching downward

If your dog only arches its back for a few seconds now and then, it means that your dog is stretching. They often arch their backs and lean backward in a ‘cat-like’ stretching pose. Like us, dogs experience stiffness and feel the need to stretch the stiffness away.

5. Spinal conditions

Spinal conditions can be the result of trauma to your dog’s spine. This trauma could be caused by external factors such as bites, hard impacts, car accidents, and other injuries. 

While it is true that various external sources can generally injure dogs, your dog’s spinal condition would be a result of a disease such as intervertebral disc disease. This disease is common in dogs affected by dwarfisms, such as Pugs and Beagles.

6. Spondylosis Derformans

Spondylosis Derformans is a degenerative condition of the spine. This condition usually affects old dogs; however, it may manifest in younger dogs due to an injury. Some dogs may not experience any symptoms, while others may experience pain and arch their backs.

Symptoms of Spondylosis Derformans include lameness, stiffness, pain, arching of the back, and limited motion. The treatment for this condition depends on its severity. In mild cases, the veterinarian may treat your dog with medication; however, your dog will require surgery in more severe cases.

7. Scared

If your dog finds itself in an unfamiliar environment and you notice that they arch its back, then it is because they are scared. Dogs tend to arch their backs when nervous, scared, or uncomfortable. 

Dogs tend to arch their backs in uncomfortable situations to make themselves appear smaller and establish that they are not a threat. This allows them to avoid altercations with other dogs. Puppies usually do this when they are first introduced to other older dogs. 

If you observe that your dog often arches its back around other dogs, it is not alarming. However, you should note that your dog may have high anxiety levels.

8. Swollen Glands

Swollen glands can be a result of anal sac disease. Anal sac disease is a condition characterized by inflamed ducts resulting in impacted anal sacs. The impacted sacs create tension which can be painful for dogs.

To reduce the tension and pain, dogs tend to tilt their hind quarters and arch their backs. Anal sac disease can affect any dog and require medical attention, or it may develop into a more severe condition such as an abscess. Anal sac disease is often treated with antibiotics prescribed by your veterinarian.

9. Inflamed Prostate

An inflamed prostate is an issue that occurs to most unneutered male dogs. The increased growth of specific cells often causes it, and this increased growth is, in turn, caused by testosterone. 

The inflamed prostate obstructs the urethra and leads to painful urination. Signs of an inflamed prostate include flat stool, bloody post-mating discharge, and back arching. 

10. Heritage

Some dog breeds are born with backs that tend to arch naturally. This is common in dogs who were bred to be notably agile and fast, such as Greyhounds and Whippets.

Their arched backs allow them to reach incredible speeds without putting too much strain on their bodies. In this case, your dog’s arched back is no reason to worry. However, since they have naturally arched back, it may be challenging to identify when your Greyhound/Whippet is arching their backs for any other reason.

11. Nausea

Just like humans, dogs can experience nausea due to various reasons. Some of those reasons may be worrisome, while others are natural and do not require you to worry. Dogs can experience nausea due to motion sickness, allergies, overeating, or simply eating something that does not agree with their stomachs. 

Dogs tend to eat grass which will cause them to experience nausea and gag while arching their backs. In some cases, your dog’s nausea could be a symptom of a health issue.

Why Does My Dog Arch His Back When I Pet Him?

Your dog may be arching his back while you pet him because he enjoys it. Your dog is showing their appreciation and indulgence by arching its back. On the other hand, he may be communicating that he requires you to scratch him, or he may be in discomfort.

Why My Dog Is Arching Back And Whining?

If your dog arches its back and whins simultaneously, it most probably means that your dog is in pain. The pain may result from a stiff back or a health issue, and you should look out for other symptoms to figure out the cause of your dog’s pain.

Why Does My Dog Arch His Back When He Wakes Up?

Your dog arches his back when he wakes up because he is stretching. Like humans, dogs experience morning stiffness and need to stretch their bodies after sleeping hours to be still. It could also be a morning greeting to you, signaling that they are awake and ready for the day.

Why Does My Dog Arches Back When Excited?

When male dogs are excited around female dogs, they may arch their backs in response to their arousal. Along with arching their backs, they may perform some pelvic thrusts. This is not only limited to male dogs but can also occur to puppies and female dogs, and it is entirely natural in dogs.

Why is My Dog Walking With Arched Back And Tail Down?

If your dog is consistently arching its back and its tail is down, it may indicate that your dog is in pain. You should note whether your dog is also hanging its head, limping, or whining. If you conclude that your dog is in pain, you should take them to a veterinarian as soon as you can. 

Why My Dog Is Hunched Back While Sitting?

Your dog may be hunching their back while sitting due to Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. Better known as bloat, this condition is life-threatening and must be treated immediately. It is often caused by dogs eating too quickly or too soon before engaging in strenuous physical activity.

Why Does My Senior Dog Keeps Arching His Back?

If your senior dog keeps arching his back, it may be affected by Spondylosis Derformans. This is a prominent condition in older dogs and causes them to experience stiffness and pain in their backs.


What Does It Mean When A Dog’s Back Is Arched?

It depends on the consistency and other symptoms being displayed. If your dog arches its back now and then, it could simply be stretching or nauseous. However, if your dog arches its back consistently, then it may be affected by a health condition such as a spinal condition, inflamed prostate, or anal sac disease.

Why Does My Dog Arch His Back Like A Cat?

Dogs arch their backs like cats when they are stretching. This usually happens when they wake up in the morning or from a nap during the day, and this could also occur when your pet scratches them.


There are several reasons why dogs arch their backs. Some require you to take action, while others are as natural as sneezing. As a rule of thumb, you should take note of the frequency at which your dog arches its back and other symptoms that it may be displaying.

Suppose they arch their back frequently and display symptoms such as limping, shaking, or even limited movement. In that case, your dog is affected by a health condition and should be taken to a veterinarian.

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