Grunting a sign of pain - Premier website for Dog Back Disease (IVDD)


Grunting a sign of pain

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Neuro Corner Answers

Dr. Andrew Isaacs
DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Dogwood Veterinary Referral Center

Primary interests include intervertebral disc disease, seizure management, luxations/fractures of the spine, and surgery for brain tumors



Hello, I have a 3 year old Shih Tzu who has been diagnosed with IVDD. She has spent the last three days at the vet and has been given steroids.

She was sent home yesterday with steroids but no other medication.

She has some movement in her back legs and can get around some on her own. Whenever she moves or is moved to go outside she tenses up her stomach and grunts. Is this a sign of  pain? She does not yelp or whine so I am unsure if this is a sign of pain or just part of the IVDD. My vet says he does not think she is in pain. What should I do? Thanks, Ty.


It sounds like she has the potential to be in some discomfort. It is not going to hurt to ask your vet for some pain meds on top of the steroids.

Typically, we like to use gabapentin +/- tramadol. By no means do I want to second guess your vet, but it wouldn’t hurt to see if the meds help with the grunting as a trial to see if she is uncomfortable as long as your vet does not see any contraindications.

The use of a GI tract protectant in cases that are receiving NSAID’s  or steroids would definitely be warranted under the supervision of the patient’s veterinarian.

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