Our Norristown vets often see dogs in their office due to symptoms of joint pain. Although a common reason for joint pain is aging, there are effective treatments available to relieve discomfort in dogs of any age or activity level.
Joint Pain in Dogs: Causes
Dogs of all breeds and ages can experience joint pain, although it is more commonly observed in senior large breed dogs.
Many dog owners may mistake their aging animal friend's decrease in activity as a natural result of getting older, when in reality, it could be a sign of joint pain rather than simply the aging process. Failure to address this condition can often result in more serious injuries or conditions in the future. Continue reading to find out what our veterinarians have to say about the various types of joint pain in dogs, what causes it, the symptoms to look out for, and the available treatments.
Your dog may experience joint pain due to two types of conditions: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Conditions
Improper joint development during puppyhood is referred to as 'developmental' joint conditions. Genetics often play a role in this medical condition, which can lead to more severe injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia. Your pup has these issues right from the beginning.
Painful joint issues are common in many large and giant dog breeds, including:
- Rottweilers: prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
- Bernese Mountain Dogs: commonly develop elbow dysplasia
- Newfoundlands: prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Your dog's joints degenerate over time due to repeated use, just like in humans. Conditions like cartilage wearing down or tendon injuries can occur. These kinds of joint issues often involve problems with the cruciate ligament, which can cause pain as tissues degenerate over time. Your beloved pet may experience increasingly severe issues and extreme discomfort as a result.
Degenerative joint issues can have various root causes, ranging from stress fractures to injuries or osteoarthritis. Larger dogs often develop these issues due to the increased stress on their joints caused by their weight.
Symptoms to Look For
Dogs thrive on activity and enjoyment, making it challenging to detect any signs of joint pain they may be experiencing. Dogs in their youth and middle age who are dealing with initial joint pain often persist in engaging in activities with great enthusiasm, even if it causes them discomfort or exacerbates their condition.
Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs of joint discomfort to prevent their pain from worsening. Look out for early indicators such as:
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving
- Loss of appetite
- Licking, chewing, or biting at the painful 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 Your Dog
Treatment for joint pain in dogs depends on the severity of their condition and the underlying cause. Surgical intervention is necessary to correct conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia, while a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise can be used to treat other degenerative joint conditions if detected early.
During your dog's wellness exam, we will assess their weight based on their breed and size. Being overweight puts extra strain on the joints, so a diet might be recommended to alleviate this pressure.
Helping your dog regain their regular mobility and activities, pain-free, is the main focus of joint pain treatment. It is crucial to note that strong muscles surrounding your dog's joints can effectively minimize the pressure and tension exerted on their joints. A healthy dog is an active dog!
Note: The advice provided in this post is for informational purposes and is not to be considered medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.