Dogs of all ages can suffer from joint pain, which can impact their quality of life. Left untreated, this type of pain can develop into serious injuries and conditions. Your dog's pain might be difficult to detect unless you know what to look for. Our vets in the Pacific Northwest explain the types, causes and treatment for joint pain in dogs.
While joint pain is common in dogs of all ages and breeds, it's much more common in our canine companions as they grow older. Many pet parents start to see their senior dogs slow down, but many symptoms we see in aging pooches are often caused by joint pain.
Unfortunately, if this condition isn't addressed, it may lead to more serious conditions or injuries in the future. Today, our vets will explain the causes, types, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.
Joint Pain in Dogs: Types & Causes
Developmental and degenerative joint issues are the two types of joint problems that may cause pain for your dog.
Developmental Joint Issues
These types of issues linger in your pet's body from the time they are young. These problems are caused by joints that haven't properly developed in the early stages of your dog's life and are often rooted in genetics. They may lead to more serious injuries such as elbow dysplasia or hip dysplasia.
Many dog breeds are predisposed to some type of joint issue that will become painful. While these issues are more common in larger breeds, they can be found in pooches of any size.
For example, Newfoundlands are one breed that's prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament. Rottweilers often develop ankle and knee joint problems, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are likely to develop elbow dysplasia.
If you are considering purchasing a dog from a breeder, ask about predispositions their lineage or breed may have to joint issues. A good breeder will offer these facts unprompted, but you can always ask if this is not the case.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Joints that are repeatedly used by dogs over time, including tendons and cartilage, become susceptible to injury and wear. Cruciate ligament problems are one of the most common types of joint issues. With these conditions, the tissues degenerate over time and with repeated use, leading to more pain and development of severe problems.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
It may be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. They tend to be somewhat stoic and, especially if they are young, they will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities which may be causing them pain (or leading to worsening of their condition) if they enjoy it.
That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms of joint pain that your pup may express:
- Limping and stiffness
- Loss of Appetite
- Frequent slipping while moving about
- Limping and stiffness
- Licking, chewing or biting the affected area
If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it might be time to bring them in to your Apple Valley vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The appropriate treatment for joint pain and its underlying cause in your dog will vary based on its severity and the specific root cause. Conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to rectify, while some degenerative joint conditions, if caught early, can be treated by a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation and exercise prescribed by your vet.
While the specific treatment may vary, the primary goal of treating joint pain in your dog 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 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.