My dog twitches when touched on the back

Medically reviewed by James Edward, PharmD

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You get home from work, and your dog is at the door, ready and waiting for some love. Posturing for a good rub, you oblige with a nice backscratching. As your hand moves back and forth, you notice your dog is twitching in response to the movement.

This blog em-barks on a journey into twitching dog backs, common reasons for twitching, what to do, and when to see a veterinarian.


There are many reasons your dog twitches when you feel its back. A twitch is often just that, a twitch. There may be nothing to worry about as it's often just a dog's muscles, nerves, or excitement.

However, deeper issues may be behind the movements if you encounter chronic or constant twitching.


Here are some of the most common reasons a dog twitches when touched on the back.

  • Muscle Spasms – Muscle spasms may cause sharp movements in the Latissimus Dorsi (dog back muscle). These spasms can be signs of IVDD (intervertebral disc disease).
  • Abuse Response – Dog behavior may be a response to abuse. Food aggression, people aggression, and nervousness are often attributed to prior abuse. Some dogs manifest their abuse in twitches that run up and down their bodies like their human counterparts. CBD calming chews may be a good natural option for relaxing an abused dog.
  • Anal Gland – Signs the anal gland are causing discomfort of the perineal area are inflammation, scooting, twitching, and pain.
  • Bumps on dog's back – Skin irritations may cause bumps an your dog. These bumps can be abscess, alopecia, blister, cyst, pimple, puncture, scab, tick, benign or malignant tumor, which can all cause twitching.
  • Fleas – Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) may irritate a dog leading to itching and twitching.
  • Inflammation – muscular inflammation can cause a dog's back to twitch. CBD for dog pain may be an option to treat muscular inflammation.
  • Injury – Injuries that may account for rapid back muscle movements are disc disease, muscle strain, infection, fractures, Hemivertebrae, Meningitis, Stenosis, and cancer.
  • Itchy Skin – Itchy skin is usually a sign of another problem, including several listed in these bullet points. However, itchy skin can cause a dog to twitch. Our CBD skin-soothing balm may be all your dog needs for relief as it may be a minor issue.
  • Mange – Mange is a highly contagious nasty infection caused by mites. A dog will persistently itch the affected area and cause follicle loss. The itching, biting, and twitching are all symptoms of Mange.
  • Nerves - Nerves can cause back twitching—both the physical nerves in the body and the dog's disposition may be associated with an abuse response.
  • Neurological Issues – Brain activity can be interrupted by a brain tumor, injury, or strokes causing involuntary twitching like Shaker's Syndrome. The Permanente Journal published an article stating that a CBD oil taken sublingually has proven efficacy and safety in treating some neurological disorders. However, only your vet can diagnose these, so you should always consult them for treatment advice.
  • Seizures – Uncontrolled electrical signals send the brain into overdrive, causing temporary abnormalities in muscle movements like limpness, stiffness, and twitching.


A great place to start is a healthy diet and good hydration; these are key to keeping your dog healthy.

If you notice your dog is twitching, first consider how often it is happening. Second, has the dog done this before, and does the animal stop jerking after its rest. Third, is the dog in pain before, during, or after spasms.

If your dog shows constant twitching in conjunction with pain, it is most likely an underlying condition.


A twitching back is not a stand-alone reason to take your dog to the vet. Unfortunately, if your pup has back twitches in combination with foaming at the mouth, passing a bowel movement, vomiting, or urinating, then get to the vet as soon as possible.

Also, chronic or continuous twitching may signify that something is wrong. If in doubt, it's always best to check with the vet.

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