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August 19, 2021 – This month we’re taking a virtual tour of the United States in celebration of National Dog Day, and recognizing the work of our funded researchers to help dogs live longer, healthier lives.

The fifth stop on our tour is The Ohio State University, where researchers are testing a new, non-invasive therapy for dogs suffering from lower back pain.

It might come as a surprise that dogs suffer from lower back pain just like people do, given their conformation and activity (such as not sitting in office chairs all day).

Back pain can impact any dog’s quality of life, and it can shorten others’ athletic and working careers. Surgery and medication often help dogs with pain, but some reports suggest that 10% to 30% of dogs fail to improve regardless of treatment, and up to 27% of dogs that initially experience relief will have recurrence of pain after treatment.

Surgery also can be expensive, and many older dogs are poor surgical candidates. Medications fall short for some dogs and can have side effects that prevent their use. It’s clear new therapies, especially ones that don’t involve surgery or medication, are needed to improve care and quality of life.

The team at The Ohio State University took on this challenge and are studying a new treatment called extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) for use in dogs. This therapy uses soundwaves delivered externally via a probe placed on the affected tissues. ESWT has had positive outcomes in people suffering from low back pain, and the Ohio State team is optimistic it will help dogs as well.

“We really don’t have any objective evidence at all for this treatment yet, but if it is effective for pain management, it could really make a difference in these patients’ lives,” said Dr. Nina Kieves, Assistant Professor of Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery at Ohio State. “Right now, we are limited to oral medications or invasive injections into the spinal area, so this could hopefully be an additional treatment option for these dogs.”

The clinical trial is currently in progress, and we can’t wait to see the results!

Next up, we’ll be traveling to the Bay State, Massachusetts, where we’ll be stopping by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

This Work Would Not Be Possible Without Your Support!

Canine health research would not be possible without the help of dog lovers like you. For more than 73 years, Morris Animal Foundation has been dedicated to funding innovative research to make the lives of our dogs healthier and happier, meaning more time together with the people they love.

Your help allows us to fund new, innovative therapies in development around the world. These high impact studies provide hope for a better tomorrow for the dogs we love. Learn more about how you can help!