Many dogs are brought to our Los Angeles vets because they are experiencing joint pain. While joint pain is frequently associated with aging, there are effective treatments available to alleviate joint pain in dogs of any age or activity level.
Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Joint pain can be seen in dogs of all breeds and ages but is much more common in senior large breed dogs.
What many dog owners interpret as their dog "slowing down" as a result of old age is often a symptom of joint pain rather than the aging process. And, if not treated, this condition can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions in the future. Our veterinarians explain the different types of joint pain in dogs, as well as the causes, symptoms, and treatments.
There are two types of conditions that can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Conditions
Developmental joint problems are caused by improper joint development in your dog as a puppy, which is often inherited and can lead to more serious injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia. These problems are present in your puppy from the start.
Many dog breeds, particularly large and giant dogs, are predisposed to painful joint issues such as:
- Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
- Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
- Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Over time, repeated use causes degenerative joint issues. These conditions include cartilage wear and tear as well as a tendon injury. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common type of joint problem. Pain occurs when tissues degenerate over time as a result of repeated use, resulting in increasingly severe problems.
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.
Symptoms of Joint Pain To Be On The Lookout For
Dogs enjoy being active and having fun, which can make determining whether or not your dog is experiencing joint pain difficult. Young and middle-aged dogs in the early stages of joint pain will frequently continue to engage in activities that are 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 joint discomforts, such as:
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving
- 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's a good idea to book an appointment with your vet, to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The severity of your dog's condition and the specific root cause will determine how you treat joint pain. Conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to correct, whereas other degenerative joint conditions if detected early, can be treated with a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise.
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.
Treatment for joint pain is all about returning your pooch to pain-free with regular mobility and activities. 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.