Dog Joint Pain - Types Signs & Treatments

Joint pain can seriously impact your dog's quality of life. Knowing the early signs of joint pain in dogs may help you to spot the condition early so that your canine companion can receive treatment before the condition becomes more severe. Our Greensboro vets share the causes and symptoms, as well as the treatment for joint pain in dogs.


Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Although much more common in geriatric dogs joint pain is common in dogs of all breeds and ages. Because of how common joint pain is in older dogs the signs of joint pain are often misinterpreted as their dog naturally "slowing down" as they age. If joint pain is left untreated it can lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. Below, our Greensboro vets and team explain the causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

Conditions That Lead to Joint Pain in Dogs

When it comes to dog joint pain, there are two types of issues that can be causing your pup's pain: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Issues

Developmental joint problems are present in your pup from the outset. These issues 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. 

A number of breeds are predisposed to an increased risk for joint pain, particularly large and giant breeds. For example, Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems, Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia whereas Newfoundlands, German Shepherds and Bichon Frise are some 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 happily provide you with detailed information about the health of their breeding line.

Degenerative Joint Issues

Cranial cruciate ligament issues are the most common degenerative joint issues seen in dogs. Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use over time of your dog's joints, including the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons.  Pain is caused when tissues degenerate over time with repeated use until increasingly severe issues result.

When it comes to degenerative joint issues, the actual root cause can widely vary 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.

Signs That Your Dog May Be Experiencing Joint Pain

Dogs can be somewhat stoic, particularly when they really want to play or run. That can cause them to continue enthusiastically participating 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 discomfort, including:

  • 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 might be time to bring them in to your Greensboro vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatments For Dog Joint Pain 

The best treatment for your dog's joint pain and its underlying cause 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.

Specific treatment will vary, but the primary goal of treating joint pain in your dog is to get them back to their regular pain-free mobility and level of activity. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your pup's joints actually help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. An active dog is a healthy one.

Most treatments will also involve an assessment of your dog'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.

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.

Is your dog showing signs of joint pain? Book an appointment with our Greensboro vets today.

A Bernese Mountain Dog outside. This breed is prone to joint pain. Greensboro Vet

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