If your dog has sore joints it can have a profound effect on their overall quality of life, yet this pain can often be effectively treated or managed. Wondering if your dog may be suffering from joint pain? Today, we explain the signs of chronic joint pain to watch for how it can be treated.
Is my dog suffering from joint pain?
Joint pain is common in dogs of all breeds and ages but becomes increasingly common as our canine companions age. In fact, what many pet parents interpret as their dog "slowing down" with age, can often be a sign of joint pain. Left untreated, your pup's joint pain can lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road.
Below, our Westminster vets explain the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for joint pain in dogs.
Are there different types of dog joint pain?
Joint pain in dogs can be divided into two categories; developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Issues in Dogs
Developmental joint problems are present in your pup from the outset. These are issues caused by improperly developed joints while your four-legged friend is young. These conditions are often rooted in their genetics and may result in more serious injuries like hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia.
Many breeds of dogs are predisposed to painful joint issues, however, they occur most commonly in larger dogs. Rottweilers for example 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 (similar to ACL injuries in people).
If you are purchasing a dog from a breeder, ask about 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. The most common of these kinds of joint issues is cruciate ligament problems, where their tissues degenerate over time and with repeated use until more severe problems and pain develop as a 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.
How can I tell if my dog is experiencing joint pain?
It can be challenging for pet parents to determine whether their dog is experiencing joint pain. Our canine companions tend to be stoic and, especially if they are young, will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain (or leading to the worsening of their condition).
That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms of joint pain that your pup may express:
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving about
- 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 might be time to bring them to your Westminster vet to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Can joint pain in dogs be treated?
The appropriate treatment for your dog's joint pain will vary based on its underlying cause and severity. Conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to rectify, while some degenerative joint conditions if caught early, can be treated by a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise prescribed by your vet.
The primary goal of treatment for joint pain in dogs is to get your four-legged friend back to their optimal level of activity and movement. 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.
Your pup's weight plays a key role in the management of joint pain. Carrying extra weight increases the strain on your pup's joints and increases discomfort. Helping your dog to achieve a healthy weight for their breed and size can be a very effective way to reduce the severity of your dog's joint pain. As part of your pup's pain management program, your veterinarian may recommend a well-balanced, calorie-reduced diet for your dog.
Many senior dogs benefit from proactive care provided before symptoms begin to affect their quality of life. Bringing your senior dog in for regular age-focused care will help allow your veterinarian to monitor your pet for developing issues and provide treatment in the earliest stages when it is most effective.
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.