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Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Our vets in Murfreesboro assess a lot of dogs suffering from joint pain. While joint pain may often be related to age, it's important that early signs are identified so that treatment can begin as soon as possible to avoid worsening symptoms or further complications. 

What causes joint pain in dogs?

While dogs of all ages can have joint pain, it's much more common in large breed dogs that are in their senior years. 

What many pet parents often interpret as their pooch "slowing down" due to old age, is actually a symptom of joint pain rather than just the aging process. If the condition is left untreated, it can often lead to more serious conditions or injuries in the future. In this post, our vets list the types, causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs. 

Two types of conditions can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative. 

Developmental Joint Issues 

Improper development of joints in puppyhood is often rooted in genetics, and may lead to developmental joint problems and more serious conditions such as elbow or hip dysplasia. Some pups have these issues from the outset. 

Many dog breeds — especially large and giant dogs — are predisposed to painful joint issues, including:

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs often develop elbow dysplasia 
  • Rottweilers are prone to developing ankle and knee joint issues 
  • Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most susceptible to developing cruciate ligament problems. 

Are you purchasing a dog from a breeder? Consider asking the breeder about any predispositions their lineage or breed may have to joint issues. A good breeder will provide you with this information unprompted, but if you don't receive it, ask. 

Degenerative Joint Issues

These issues are caused by repeated use of joints over time. With these types of conditions, the cartilage becomes worn down and tendon injuries can occur. Issues with cruciate ligaments are the most common type of joint issues. When tissues degenerate gradually with repeated use, this can lead to increasingly severe issues and pain. 

The underlying, root cause of degenerative joint issues can vary widely from stress factors to osteoarthritis or injuries. Often, these will develop in larger dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time. 

Signs of Joint Pain to Beware Of

Dogs can be stoic, making 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 discomfort, including:

  • Lethargy
  • Limping and stiffness 
  • Licking, chewing or biting the affected area
  • Frequent slipping while moving
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Depression
  • Irritability

If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it might be time to bring them in to your Murfreesboro vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs 

The best treatment for your dog's joint pain and its underlying cause 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.

Most treatments will also involve an exam and 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.

The primary goal of treating joint pain is to get your dog back to their regular mobility and level of activity. 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Are you worried that your dog may be suffering from severe joint pain? Contact us to schedule an appointment, or to ask any questions you may have.

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