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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Is your dog suddenly having a difficult time getting around? Are they limping or no longer jumping up onto the bed? They may be experiencing joint pain. Here, our Brentwood vets discuss the signs and causes of joint pain in dogs, and what the treatment options are to help your pup feel better.

The signs of joint pain may sometimes be subtle, and they can be very good at hiding them. This can be especially true in older dogs as their reduced activity levels can often be caused by joint pain rather than just old age. 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.

Are there different types of joint pain in dogs?

The two main types of joint pain conditions that affect dogs are:

Developmental Joint Conditions

If your dog has developmental joint conditions they will have had the condition since birth although the signs may not appear until much later. These are issues caused by improperly developed joints while your dog is young, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. 

Many breeds of dogs are predisposed to some variety of joint issues which will cause them pain. These issues are much more common in larger dogs but can be found in pups of any size. 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 purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should consider asking them about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have to joint issues. If you are getting your dog from a good breeder then they will likely have given you this information right away.

Degenerative Joint Conditions

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. The most common of these kinds of joint issues is cruciate ligament problems, where their tissues degenerate over time and with repeated use until more severe problems and pain develop as a 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.

What symptoms might a dog experience with joint pain?

Dogs will usually continue on as usual, not showing any signs of joint conditions until the symptoms are far more severe and the condition is well advanced.

Even so, here are the typical signs of joint pain that you should watch for:

  • Limping and stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Frequent slipping while moving about
  • 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 to your Brentwood vet to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

What are the treatment options for joint pain in dogs?

The treatment required for your dog's joint pain will vary depending on the underlying 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.

There are a number of different treatment options for joint pain in dogs but the main goal is usually just to get the joints moving again. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your pup's joints help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. Dogs are at their healthiest when they stay active.

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.

If your dog is showing any of the signs listed above or you have any other concerns about their health, contact our Brentwood Veterinary Clinic veterinarians today to schedule an examination.

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