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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Our veterinarians in Windsor commonly examine dogs who endure joint pain. Joint pain frequently occurs most often with senior dogs but it is important to monitor for symptoms no matter the age in order to seek treatment as soon as possible. 

Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Joint pain can be seen in dogs of all breeds and ages but is much more common in senior large breed dogs.

Symptoms of joint pain are easily downplayed and often seen as your family pet just slowing down as they are aging. Unfortunately, when these symptoms are not addressed and diagnosed properly this can lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. In this post, our vets at the New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care talk about 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.

Developmental Joint Concerns

Your dog's genetics can cause improper development of the joints which occurs while your dog is still very young. Unfortunately, these developmental joint issues can end up causing more serious injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia. The symptoms of these issues are typically apparent from the beginning of the dog's life.

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.

In the case that you are acquiring your new dog from a reputable breeder, you should be sure to ask them any questions or concerns you might have about the dog as well as about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have. Usually, you shouldn't need to worry about asking these things as the breeder would have provided all information that might be necessary but it is always good to ask and be sure. 

Degenerative Joint Concerns

Over time the repeated use of the joint will lead to degenerative joint issues. These conditions are caused by the overuse and wearing down of cartilage or injury to the tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common of these kinds of joint issues. Over time the pain associated with the tissue degeneration will become more severe as well as repeated use causing further issues.

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 Joint Pain to Watch For

Dogs are proud creatures and therefore they might make it difficult to be able to tell if they are experiencing joint pain. Younger dogs might not show their discomfort while in the early stages of joint pain and therefore may continue to run and play as usual causing potentially more pain and also a worsening of their condition as time goes on.

To help your dog avoid increasingly severe pain due to joint issues watch for the earliest signs of discomfort, including:

  • 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 might be time to bring them into your Windsor vet in order to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs 

The best treatment for your dog's joint pain and its underlying cause 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 vet will also evaluate the size of your dog during the course of evaluation and treatment. They will assess your dog's weight in relation to its size and determine if your dog is overweight. If this is the case then your vet may prescribe a special diet and plan to help your dog reach a healthy weight and relieve the pain and distress that it might be experiencing.  

Treating joint pain quickly and appropriately is important to help get your dog back to its regular level of mobility and activity. 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 and treating joint pain quickly and appropriately is important to help.

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.

Are you concerned that your dog may be suffering from joint severe pain? Contact our 24/7 emergency animal hospital if your dog requires urgent care, or come straight over.

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