Joint pain is an incredibly common condition burdening dogs of all ages, reducing their quality of life, and likely evolving into more serious issues and injuries. Joint pain in dogs can be obvious at advanced stages, but it is important to be able to identify the subtle symptoms before they become increasingly painfull and less treatable.
Joint pain can be seen in any breed of dog and at any age but it is most commonly seen in dogs as they get older. Owners who don't recognize the signs might just think their dog is slowing done with age. If these issues are left untreated, they can lead to more serious conditions in the long run. Here our Grand Prairie vet address some common types, causes, symptoms and treatment for joint pain in dogs.
Types and Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
There are two types of joint issues which can be causing pain for your dog: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Issues
Developmental joint pain is seen in puppies with improperly developed joins often caused by genetics. These may result in injuries like hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia.
Many breeds of dogs are predisposed to some variety of joint issues which will cause them pain. These issues are much more common in larger dogs, but can be found in dogs 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 are purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should consider asking them about any joint issues they may be predisposed to based on their breed and family tree. A good breeder should have already provided this information, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.
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 or overweight dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time.
Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs
Dogs are experts at hiding injuries so it may be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. They tend to be somewhat stoic and, especially when they are young, they will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities which 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 Grand Prairie vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
Finding a proper treatment plan for your dog's joint pain will vary based on its root cause and the severity of the damage. Conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to fix, while some of the degenerative conditions when caught early, can be treated with rehabilitative therapies, appropriate exercise and nutrition recommended 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.