Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs - Causes and Treatment

Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs - Causes and Treatment

Joint pain is a common condition in dogs of all ages, affecting their quality of life and potentially causing more serious conditions and injuries if untreated. It may be tough to notice that your dog is experiencing pain in their joints unless you know what to look for though. Here, our West Chester vets walk you through its types, causes and treatments. 

Joint pain is quite common in dogs of all ages and breeds but can be much more common in our dogs as they grow older. While many pet parents may interpret their dog's movements as just "slowing down," what is actually happening may very well be that your pup is suffering from joint pain. And, if this condition isn't addressed, it can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms and treatments 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 problems are present in your pup from the outset. These are issues caused by improperly developed joints while your dog is young, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. 

Many breeds of dog are predisposed to some kind of joint pain that will create health issues. These issues are often much more common in larger dogs, but they can also be found in dogs of any size. For example, Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint issues. Bernese Mountain Dogs will commonly develop elbow dysplasia in their lifetime and Newfoundlands commonly injure their cruciate ligament. 

If you are purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should consider asking them about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have to joint issues. A good breeder will provide you that information unprompted, 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 in your pup's joints. This includes the wearing down of their cartilage or the injury of their tendons. The most common joint issues in dogs are cruciate ligament issues. When a dog suffers from a degenerative joint issue, their tissue slowly degenerates over time until they begin causing pain and mobility issues. 

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 dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time.

Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs

It may be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. They tend to be somewhat stoic and, especially if they are young, they will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that 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:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • 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 West Chester 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 specific treatments may vary, the primary goal of treating your dog's joint pain is the get them back to their regular amount of mobility and activity levels. This is especially important since well-developed muscles around your dog's joints actually help to reduce the weight and strain placed on their joints themselves. When your dog is activity, your dog is healthier. 

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.

To learn more about the treatment and diagnosis of joint pain in your dog, contact our West Chester Veterinary Medical Center veterinarians today. We will be happy to examine your dog and speak with you about the possible causes and appropriate treatments of their joint pain.

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