Joint pain can affect dogs of all ages, causing pain and leading to a reduced quality of life if left untreated. In today's post, our Argyle vets discuss some of the common symptoms, causes, and treatment options for joint pain in dogs.
Types and Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Joint pain can affect dogs of all breeds and ages but is more commonly found in older dogs. What many pet parents interpret as their dog "slowing down", can often be a symptom of undiagnosed joint pain rather than just old age. If joint pain isn't addressed it can cause your pup a lot of pain and could lead to more serious injuries down the line.
There are two types of joint issues which can be causing pain for your dog: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Issues
Developmental joint problems are present in your pup from a young age. These are issues caused by improperly developed joints while your dog is a puppy, often due to genetic abnormalities. Developmental joint problems can eventually result in more serious injuries like hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia.
Many breeds of dogs are predisposed to joint issues which 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 prone to developing problems with their cruciate ligament.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use of your dog's joints over time. Normal wear and tear can eventually wear down the joint cartilage or put a strain on the tendons, causing injury.
When it comes to degenerative joint issues, the actual root cause can widely vary from stress fractures to injuries or osteoarthritis. However, degenerative joint problems are most likely to develop in larder dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain, particularly if they are young as they will most likely continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain.
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 into your Argyle vet in order to discover the root cause of the symptoms.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The appropriate treatment for joint pain will depend on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. 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 lessen the weight their pained joints have to bear.