Is your dog limping, slipping or seemingly irritated for no reason? They may be experiencing joint pain. Here, our Westport vets share some of the signs and causes of joint pain in dogs and what you can do to help manage this condition.
When a dog experiences joint pain it may not be entirely obvious. This can be especially true in older dogs as their reduced activity levels can often be caused by joint pain rather than just old age. 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.
The Types of Dog Joint Pain
There are two main types of joint pain experienced by dogs. They are:
Developmental Joint Conditions
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 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 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 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 with that information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
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 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.
Dog Joint Pain Symptoms
The signs of joint pain may be difficult to spot as your dog may continue to carry on as usual and they may not begin to show the symptoms until they are more severe and can't be hidden any longer.
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 to your Westport vet to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatment Options For Dog Joint Pain
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.
There are a number of different treatment options for joint pain in dogs but the main goal is usually just to get the joints moving again. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your pup's joints help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. Dogs are at their healthiest when they stay active.
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.
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.