Joint pain symptoms are a common reason why many dogs are brought to be examined by our Brighton vets. While joint pain can often be an age-related condition there are effective treatments available to relieve joint pain in dogs of any age or activity level.
Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Joint pain can be seen in dogs of all breeds and at any age, but shows up much more often in older large- and giant-sized breeds of dog.
Often what many dog owners interpret as their pooch "slowing down" due to old age, is actually a symptom of joint pain rather than just the aging process. 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.
There are two types of conditions that can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Conditions
Developmental joint problems 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. These issues are present in your pup from the outset.
Many dog breeds, particularly large and giant dogs, are predisposed to painful joint issues such as:
- Rottweilers have a proclivity towards knee and ankle joint problems
- Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
- Newfoundlands are particularly prone to developing issues with their cruciate ligament.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Over time, repetitive use of limbs can lead to degenerative joint issues. These types of conditions can including worn-down cartilage and tendon injuries. 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.
The actual root cause of degenerative joint issues can vary widely 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.
Symptoms of Joint Pain To Look Out For
Dogs really love to be active and have fun, which can make it challenging to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. Young and middle-aged dogs experiencing the early stages of joint pain will often continue to enthusiastically participate 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 joint discomfort, including:
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving
- Loss of Appetite
- Licking, chewing or biting the area that is troubling them
If you notice any of these symptoms and behavior in your dog without an obvious cause, book an appointment with your vet to have them examined for joint pain.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
Treatment for joint pain will vary based on how severe your dog's condition is, as well as what, specifically, is the underlying 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.
Your vet will also check your pup's weight to ensure that they are within a healthy range for their size, breed and age. 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.
When treating your dog for joint pain, the focus is on returning them to their regular mobility and activity levels without pain. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your dog's joints actually help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. An active dog is a healthy dog.
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.