Our Stroudsburg vets often see dogs in their office due to symptoms of joint pain. Although a common reason for joint pain is aging, there are effective treatments available to relieve discomfort in dogs of any age or activity level.
Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Joint pain can develop in dogs of all breeds and ages, but is seen much more often in senior large breed dogs.
What many dog owners interpret as their aging pet "slowing down" due to old age may actually be an indication of joint pain rather than the aging process. If not treated, this ailment can typically lead to more serious injuries or conditions in the future. Continue reading for information from our veterinarians on the different forms, causes, symptoms, and treatments for joint pain in dogs.
There are two types of conditions that can cause joint pain in your dog: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Conditions
'Developmental' joint problems refer to the abnormal development of the joints during puppyhood. This medical problem is frequently hereditary in nature and can lead to more serious ailments such as hip or elbow dysplasia. These problems are present in your puppy from the start.
Many large and giant dog breeds are particularly predisposed to painful joint issues such as:
- Rottweilers: prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
- Bernese Mountain Dogs: commonly develop elbow dysplasia
- Newfoundlands: prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Repeated usage of your dog's joints over time causes degeneration, just like it does in humans. These issues include cartilage wear and tear as well as tendon injury. The most frequent type of joint disease is cruciate ligament degeneration, which causes discomfort as tissues degrade over time. This can result in increasingly serious problems and great suffering for your beloved pet.
The actual root cause of degenerative joint issues can vary widely from stress fractures to injuries or osteoarthritis. Often, they will develop in larger dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time.
Symptoms to Look For
Most dogs enjoy being active and having fun, which can make determining whether or not your dog is experiencing joint pain difficult. Young and middle-aged dogs in the early stages of joint pain will frequently continue to participate in activities that may be painful or worsen their condition.
To help your dog avoid increasingly severe pain due to joint issues watch for the earliest signs of joint discomfort, such as:
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving
- Loss of appetite
- Licking, chewing, or biting at the painful area
If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it's a good idea to book an appointment with your vet, to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Your Dog
The optimal treatment for joint pain in your dog will depend on the severity of the condition and the exact root cause. disorders such as hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to correct, whereas other degenerative joint disorders, if detected early, can be managed with a mix of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise.
Your dog's wellness exam will also involve an assessment of your dog's weight for their breed and size. If they are overweight, they are placing extra strain on their joints and a diet may be prescribed to help ease the pressure on their joints.
Treatment for joint pain is all about helping your dog return to their regular mobility and activities, pain-free. 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!
Note: The advice provided in this post is for informational purposes and is not to be considered medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.