Joint pain is a frequent issue in dogs, no matter their age. It can impact their well-being and, if ignored, may lead to severe problems. This pain may be hard to notice unless you know what to look for. Our Ypsilanti vets explain joint pain in dogs, including its varieties, causes, and treatment options.
Joint pain can be quite common in dogs of any breed or age but is much more likely to develop in dogs as they grow into their senior years. While dog owners may interpret this as "slowing down," this process can much more often be caused by pain in your pup's joints than old age on its own.
If this condition isn't properly addressed, it can also often lead to more serious injuries and conditions. Here, our vets explain the possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options for your dog's joint pain.
Types and Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Two possible varieties of joint issues can be causing your dog pain: degenerative and developmental joint pain.
Developmental Joint Issues
Your dog can have joint problems right from birth, mainly because of genetics affecting how their joints grow when they're young. Serious issues like elbow or hip problems might happen later.
Many breeds of dogs are predisposed to some variety of joint issues that 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 you're purchasing a dog from a breeder, it may be a good idea to consider asking them about any genetic predispositions their breed or lineage may have to joint issues. A good breeder can provide you with this information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use over time of your dog's 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.
These joint problems can have different causes, such as stress fractures, injuries, or osteoarthritis. They often occur more frequently in larger dogs because their weight puts more stress on their joints over time.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
It can be hard to tell whether or not your dog is suffering from joint pain. Our canine companions tend to be somewhat stoic, and when they are young, they will also often continue to play enthusiastically—worsening their condition.
That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms of joint pain that your pup may express:
- Limping and stiffness
- Loss of Appetite
- 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 to your Ypsilanti vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
How your vet treats your dog's joint pain depends on how bad it is and what's causing it. If your dog has something like hip or elbow problems, they might need surgery. But if it's an early-stage joint issue, your vet might suggest a mix of good food, exercise, and therapy.
While the specific treatment may vary from case to case, the goal of treatment is to get them back to their regular level of activity and mobility. This is especially important for your dog's long-term health since well-developed muscles around their joints will actually help to reduce the load those joints have to bear themselves. An active dog is a healthy dog.
Most treatments will also involve an assessment of your dog's weight compared to its 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.