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Dog Joint Pain - Signs & Treatments

Our Huntersville specialist vets see a lot of dogs suffering from painful joint issues. While joint pain can often be an age-related condition in dogs there are effective treatments available to relieve joint pain in dogs of any age or activity level.

Causes of Dog Joint Pain

Often what many dog owners interpret as their pooch "slowing down" due to old age, is actually a symptom of joint pain rather than just the aging process. And, if this condition isn't addressed, it can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

There are two types of conditions that can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative.

Canine Developmental Joint Conditions

Developmental joint problems are caused by improper development of the joints while your dog is young, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip or elbow dysplasia. These issues are present in your pup from the outset. 

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.
When purchasing a dog from a breeder ask them about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have in terms of joint issues. A good breeder may provide you with that information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.

Canine Degenerative Joint Conditions

Repeated use over time leads to degenerative joint issues. These types of conditions include the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common of these kinds of joint issues. Pain is caused when tissues degenerate over time with repeated use until increasingly severe issues result.

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.

Signs of Dog Joint Pain To Watch For

Dogs really love to be active and have fun, which can make 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 joint discomfort, such as:

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

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.

Treating Joint Pain in Dogs

Treatment for joint pain 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.

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 pain-free 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.

If your dog is suffering from a painful joint condition that requires surgery or advanced care our specialists can help! Contact us to learn more.

Caring for Pets in Huntersville

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral. Our 24/7 emergency service accepts all clients.

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