Joint pain is a common condition affecting dogs of all ages, affecting their quality of life and potentially leading to quite serious conditions and injuries if left unchecked. This pain may be hard to notice unless you know what to look for. So, here our Thornton 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 too. 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
There are two possible varieties of joint issues that can be causing your dog pain: degenerative and developmental joint pain.
Developmental Joint Issues
Developmental joint issues are present in your dog from their birth. These issues are generally caused by genetic issues causing your puppy's joints to develop improperly when they are young. Conditions like elbow or hip dysplasia are examples of more serious injuries this could lead to down the line.
Many breeds of dog 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 will be able to 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.
When it comes to degenerative joint issues, the root cause will vary wildly. They can range from stress fractures to injuries and osteoarthritis. But often, they will develop in larger dogs since their weight places more stress on your pup's 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 will tend to be somewhat stoic and, when they are young, they will also often continue to enthusiastically play. 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 into your Thornton vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The appropriate treatment for joint pain and its underlying cause in your dog will vary based on its severity and the specific root cause. 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 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 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.