While joint pain may be common in dogs, especially as they age, there are some things you can do to help relieve your pup's discomfort. Today, our Las Vegas vets explain.
Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Joint pain can happen to a dog of any age or size, but it is most commonly seen in senior large-breed dogs.
Often what many dog owners interpret as their dog "slowing down" due to old age, is actually a symptom of joint pain rather than just the aging process. If joint pain isn't addressed it could lead to more serious injuries or complications down the road. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.
Types of Joint Pain
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 birth.
Many dog breeds, particularly large and giant dogs, are predisposed to painful joint issues such as:
- Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
- Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
- Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Degenerative joint conditions are caused by repeated use of the joint over time that causes the cartilage and tendons to wear down. Cruciate ligament tears or injuries are one of the most common degenerative joint conditions.
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 Be On The Lookout 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 affected area
If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it's a good idea to book an appointment with your vet, to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
Treatment for joint pain will vary based on the severity of your dog's condition and the specific root 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 dog's examination will also involve an assessment of your pup's weight compared to their size. If they are overweight, they may be placing extra stress on their joints and your vet may recommend a special diet to help ease the weight their pained joints have to bear.
Treatment for joint pain is all about returning your pup to their regular mobility level and activities with the least amount of pain possible. 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.