Joint pain is a common source of discomfort in dogs of all ages, affecting their quality of life and potentially developing into serious lifelong conditions and injuries. It may be hard to notice that you dog is experiencing joint pain unless you know what to look out for. Here, our Johns Creek veterinarians explain the types of joint pain in dogs, its causes and your treatment options.
Joint pain is a common condition in dogs of all ages and breeds. That being said, it becomes much more common in our dogs as they age. What many dog owners interpret as their pup "slowing down" as they grow older is often more than just old age, it's joint pain. If this condition isn't promptly addressed, it may lead to more serious injuries or other conditions down the road. Here, our veterinarians explain the causes, types, symptoms and treatment options for joint pain in dogs.
Types and Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
There are two types of joint issues which can be causing pain for your dog: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Issues
Developmental joint issues are present in your dog from birth. These are issues that are caused by improperly developed joints while your pup is young influenced by their genetics and that may result in serious injuries like elbow or hip dysplasia.
Many breeds of dog are predisposed to some variety of joint issue which will cause them pain. These issues are much more common in larger dogs, but can be found in pups of any size. For example, Rottweilers 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.
If purchasing a dog from a breeder, consider asking them about any predispositions they lineage or breed has to joint pain or other issues. A high quality breeder will give you that information without being prompted, but it doesn't hurt to ask if you don't get it initially.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use (or misuse) over time of your dog's joints, including the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons. The most commonly encountered kinds of joint issues are cruciate ligament problems, where the tissues of your dog's joints degrade 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.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
It may be quite difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. Our pups will often be quite stoic when they are uncomfortably and (especially if they are young) will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may cause them more pain or harm if they enjoy doing them.
That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms of joint pain that your pup may express:
- Loss of Appetite
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving about
- 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 in to your Johns Creek vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The appropriate treatment for pain in your dog's joints will depend on the severity of the condition and its underlying cause. Conditions such as elbow or hip dysplasia will require surgical intervention in order to be alleviated, while some degenerative conditions can be treated with a combination of rehabilitation, nutrition and exercise if prescribed by your vet.
While the specific treatment may vary, the primary goal of treating joint pain in your dog is to get them back to their regular mobility and level of activity. 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.
Most treatments will also involve an assessment of your dog'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.