What Causes Joint Pain in Dogs?
Dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes can suffer from joint pain, although it's seen more often in larger breeds of senior dogs.
What lots of dog owners believe is their pup "slowing down" as a result of old age, could actually be a symptom of joint pain, instead of the aging process alone. And, if this condition goes untreated, it can cause more severe injuries or conditions later on. Today, our vets discuss the types of joint pain in dogs, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options available.
There are two kinds of conditions that can lead to joint pain in dogs: 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.
Lots of dog breeds, most often large and giant dogs, are predisposed to painful joint conditions including:
- Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
- Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
- Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Degenerative joint problems are caused by repeated use over time. These kinds of conditions include the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common among these types of joint conditions. Pain occurs when the tissues degenerate over time with continuous use until the issues become more severe.
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.
The Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
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 making their condition worse).
To help your dog avoid increasingly severe pain as a result of joint problems look for the earliest signs of joint discomforts, such as:
- Frequent slipping while moving
- Limping and stiffness
- Licking, biting, or chewing the affected area
- Loss of Appetite
If you see your dog displaying any of these behaviors without an obvious cause, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian, to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treating Your Dog's Joint Pain
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 are placing extra strain on their joints and a diet may be prescribed to help ease the weight their pained joints have to bear.
The goal of joint pain treatments is to help your dog get back to enjoying pain-free activities and mobility. 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.