Dogs of all ages commonly deal with joint pain, impacting their quality of life. Left untreated, the condition can develop into serious injuries and health issues. It might be difficult to detect whether your dog is suffering from joint pain unless you know what to look for. Our Orlando vets walk you through joint pain in your pup, including types, causes and treatments.
Joint pain is a common issue in dogs of all ages and breeds. However, this becomes much more of a concern for our pooches as they grow older. While many dogs appear to slow down as they age, these issues can often be caused by joint pain rather than simply old age. If this condition is not addressed, it can often lead to more serious conditions or even injuries down the road. In this post, our vets list types, causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.
Types and Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
The two types of joint issues that may be causing pain for your dog are developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Issues
Caused by improperly developed joints while your dog is young, developmental joint issues are present in your pup from the outset and are often rooted in genetics. These problems may lead to more serious injuries such as elbow dysplasia or hip dysplasia.
Many dog breeds are predisposed to some kind of joint issue that will cause them pain. Larger dogs are more likely to encounter these issues, however they may be found in pups of any size. For example, Bernese Mountain Dogs often develop elbow dysplasia, while Newfoundlands are one breed most prone to developing issues with the cruciate ligament. Rottweilers are susceptible to knee and ankle joint problems.
If you are considering purchasing a dog from a breeder, you might ask them about any predispositions their lineage or breed may have to joint issues. A good breeder will offer this information unprompted, but if you don't receive it, don't hesitate to ask.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use over time of your dogs 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.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
It may be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. They tend to be somewhat stoic and, especially if they are young, they will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain (or leading to worsening of their condition) if they enjoy it.
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 in to your Orlando vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The appropriate treatment for a dog's joint pain and its underlying cause will vary based on its severity and the specific root cause for your pup. Conditions like 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.
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.