Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Your dog's quality of life is seriously impacted when they are suffering from joint pain, and if their condition is not addressed quickly they could develop more severe conditions or injury. In this blog, our Memphis vets share with you the early signs of dog joint pain you should look out for, the types of joint pain, its causes, and treatment options.

Joint pain can be seen in dogs of every age and breed, however, it's seen most often in geriatric dogs. What a lot of dog owners interpret as their pet's "slowing down", can often be brought on by joint pain and not just old age. And, if this issue isn't diagnosed, it could cause more serious conditions or injuries later on. Today, our veterinarians discuss the kinds, causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options for joint pain in dogs.

What are the Types of Joint Pain Dogs can Experience?

There are two types of causes for joint pain in dogs: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Issues

Developmental joint problems are present in your pooch from the beginning. These issues are due to improper development of the joints while your pup is young, which is frequently rooted in their genetics, and can lead to more problematic injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia.

Lots of dog breeds, most often large and giant breeds, are predisposed to varieties of painful joint problems. For example, Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems, Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia and Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.

If you are getting your dog from a breeder, we recommend asking them about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have to joint conditions. A good breeder will give you this information unprompted, however, it's always good to ask if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Joint Issues

Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use of your dog's joints over time, including tendon injuries or the wearing down of cartilage. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common kind of degenerative joint issue. Pain develops when tissues degenerate over time with repeated use until it increasingly gets more severe.

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

What are the Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs?

It can be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. They tend to be somewhat stoic and, especially if they are young, will keep enthusiastically participating in activities that could be causing them pain (which can lead to their condition getting worse).

You can help prevent your dog's joint pain from getting more severe by looking for these early signs and symptoms of joint pain; 

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

If your dog is displaying any of these behaviors without an obvious cause, take them you're your primary care vet, or for after-hours care see our emergency vets in Memphis so your pooch can be examined for joint pain and its underlying causes.

What are the Treatments for Joint Pain in Dogs?

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

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

Most treatments will also include an assessment of your dog's weight compared to its size. If they are overweight, they are placing extra strain on their joints and a diet might 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.

If notice your dog displaying any signs of joint pain contact our Memphis vets immediately for after-hours care or see your primary care veterinarian.

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