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Joint Pain in Dogs: Signs, Causes & Treatment

While a dog's joint pain can sometimes be related to aging, there is hope in the form of treatment to help relieve discomfort. In this post, our Astoria vets share symptoms, causes, and treatment options for joint pain in dogs. 

Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs

Most dogs love to be active and have fun, making it hard to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. Young and middle-aged dogs experiencing the early stages of joint pain will often continue enthusiastically participating 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
  • Irritability
  • Frequent slipping while moving
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Licking, chewing, or biting at the painful area
  • Lethargy

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.

To determine the underlying cause of your dog's joint pain, your veterinarian will likely assess your dog's health status, along with their diet and risk factors such as age, weight, and breed. Based on this assessment, the vet can develop a treatment plan to manage or alleviate your dog's joint pain.  

Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Dogs of all ages and breeds can suffer from joint pain. However, joint pain occurs much more often in large-breed dogs that have reached their senior years. 

Many dog owners may notice their aging four-legged companion slowing down and think of this as an inevitable side-effect of their pup growing older. However, a senior dog's slower walk or reluctance to play can indicate joint pain, not just aging. If the underlying condition isn't addressed, it can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions in the future. 

Two types of conditions can cause joint pain in your dog: developmental and degenerative. 

Developmental Joint Conditions 

Developmental joint conditions stem from the improper development of a puppy's joints. This medical condition often originates from a dog's genetics and may lead to more serious injuries like elbow or hip dysplasia. these issues are present in your pup from birth. 

Many large and giant dog breeds are predisposed to painful joint issues. These breeds include:

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs - Often develop elbow dysplasia 
  • Newfouondlands – Susceptible to developing issues in the cruciate ligament
  • Rottweilers – Prone to developing problems with knees and ankle joints

If you are purchasing your dog from a breeder, ask about any predispositions the dog's breed or lineage may have to joint issues. Typically, a good breeder will provide you with this information unprompted. 

Degenerative Joint Conditions

Just like people sometimes experience joint pain due to repetitive strain, this can occur in dogs. These types of conditions include the wearing down of cartilage or injuries to tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common type of joint issue. When tissues degenerate over time, this causes pain. Your pet may suffer from increasingly severe issues and extreme discomfort. 

The root cause of degenerative joint issues can vary widely, from injuries or stress fractures to osteoarthritis. These often develop in larger dogs due to the significant amount of weight placing chronic stress on their joints. 

Treatments For Your Dog

The best treatment for your dog's joint pain will vary based on the severity of your pup's condition and the specific root cause. Conditions like 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.

During your dog's wellness exam, the vet will assess its weight for its breed and size. If your dog is overweight, it is placing extra strain on its joints, and a diet may be prescribed to help ease the pressure on its 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 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.

Is your dog displaying signs of joint pain? Contact our vets at Steinway Court Veterinarian to book an examination. Our vets can help your dog move more comfortably again.

New Patients Welcome

At Steinway Court Veterinarian, we are always accepting new patients. Our vets are dedicated to keeping pets healthy and happy in our Astoria clinic. Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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