Dog Joint Pain - Signs & Treatments

Joint pain symptoms are a common reason why many dogs are brought to be examined by our South Charlotte vets. While joint pain can often be an age-related condition there are effective treatments available to relieve joint pain in dogs of any age or activity level.

Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Joint pain can be seen in dogs of all breeds and ages, but is much more common in senior large breed dogs.

Often what many dog owners interpret as their pooch "slowing down" due to old age, is actually a symptom of joint pain rather than just the aging process. And, if this condition isn't addressed, it can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

There are two types of conditions that can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Conditions

Developmental joint problems are caused by improper development of the joints while your dog is young, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip or elbow dysplasia. These issues are present in your pup from the outset. 

Many dog breeds, particularly large and giant dogs, are predisposed to painful joint issues such as:

  • Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
  • Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
If you are purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should consider asking them about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have to joint issues. A good breeder will provide you with that information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Joint Conditions

Repeated use over time leads to degenerative joint issues. These types of conditions include the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common of these kinds of joint issues. Pain is caused when tissues degenerate over time with repeated use until increasingly severe issues result.

The actual root cause of degenerative joint issues can vary widely from stress fractures to injuries or osteoarthritis. But often, they will develop in larger dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time.

Symptoms of Joint Pain To Be On The Lookout For

Dogs really love to be active and have fun, which can make it challenging to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. Young and middle-aged dogs experiencing the early stages of joint pain will often continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain (or leading to worsening of their condition).

To help your dog avoid increasingly severe pain due to joint issues watch for the earliest signs of joint discomfort, such as:

  • Limping and stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Frequent slipping while moving
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Depression
  • Licking, chewing or biting the affected area
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it's a good idea to book an appointment with your vet, to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs 

Treatment for joint pain will vary based on the severity of your dog's condition and the specific root cause. Conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to rectify, while other degenerative joint conditions may be treated with a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation and exercise if caught early.

Your dog's examination will also involve an assessment of your pup's weight compared to their size. If they are overweight, they are placing extra strain on their joints and a diet may be prescribed to help ease the weight their pained joints have to bear.

Treatment for joint pain is all about returning your pooch pain-free regular mobility and activities. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your dog's joints actually help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. An active dog is a healthy dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of joint pain contact our Charlotte vets today to book an examination for your pooch. Our vets can help your dog to move more comfortably again.

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