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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint pain is a condition that can seriously affect your dog's quality of life and while early detection is crucial, it can be difficult to spot the signs of until it has developed complications. Our Orange vets discuss the different types of joint pain in dogs, what signs to look out for and what you can do to help treat your canine companion.

While it is possible for joint pain to affect dogs of all ages and breeds, it is more likely to develop in geriatric dogs. Unfortunately, joint pain is most often overlooked as your older dog slowing down. This condition, however, is more than just your dog feeling their age and if left untreated it can develop into more complicated conditions. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

The Types & Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

If your dog is experiencing joint pain, it will fall into one of two main categories, developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Issues in Dogs

Developmental joint problems are present straight from the beginning. Typically these issues are caused by the improper formation of your dog's joints, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip or elbow dysplasia. 

While it can occur with many breeds of dogs it mostly is known for larger breeds of dogs to be predisposed to varieties of painful joint issues. 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 choose to procure your new dog from a breeder it may be a good idea to discuss 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 Issues 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. 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.

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 of Joint Pain in Dogs

Joint pain can be particularly difficult to diagnose in dogs as the signs may not be obvious and dogs can be very good at hiding pain and continuing to play as usual.

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 Orange vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatment Options For Joint Pain In Dogs 

If your dog is diagnosed with joint pain then the treatment that is recommended will depend on the type of joint pain and how advanced it is as well as any other related conditions that your dog might be experiencing. 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.

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.

During the treatment process, your vet will also make 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 manage their weight and relieve the stress that it may be causing their joints.

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.

Are you worried about the signs of joint pain in your dog? Contact our Orange vets right away to schedule a visit for your dog.

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