Our Staten Island vets see a lot of dogs suffering from joint pain. While joint pain can often be an age-related condition it's important to spot the signs early so that treatment as soon as possible to avoid further complications or worsening symptoms.
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.
What many dog owners interpret as their dog "slowing down" with age is frequently a symptom of joint pain rather than the aging process. If left untreated, this condition can frequently progress to more serious injuries or conditions in the future. Our vets explain the various types of joint pain in dogs, as well as the causes, symptoms, and treatments.
There are two types of conditions that can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative.
Developmental Joint Issues
Developmental joint problems are caused by improper joint development in your dog as a puppy, which is often inherited and can lead to more serious injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia. These problems are present in your puppy from the start.
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.
If you are buying a dog from a breeder, you should inquire about any predispositions their breed or lineage may have to joint problems. A good breeder will give you that information without prompting, but it never hurts to ask if you don't.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Repeated use causes degenerative joint issues over time. These conditions include tendon injury and cartilage wear and tear. The most common type of joint problem is cruciate ligament damage. Pain occurs when tissues degenerate over time as a result of repeated use, resulting in progressively worse problems.
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 can be stoic, making it difficult to tell if your dog is suffering from joint pain. Young and middle-aged dogs in the early stages of joint pain will frequently continue to engage in activities that are causing them pain (or leading to the worsening of their condition).
To help your dog avoid increasingly severe pain due to joint issues watch for the earliest signs of discomfort, including:
- Limping and stiffness
- Frequent slipping while moving
- Loss of Appetite
- Licking, chewing, or biting the affected area
If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog that don't have an obvious cause, it's time to take them to your Staten Island vet to be checked for joint pain and its underlying conditions.
Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs
The most effective treatment for your dog's joint pain and its underlying cause will depend 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 correct, whereas other degenerative joint conditions if detected early, can be treated with a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise.
Most treatments will also involve an assessment of your dog's weight compared to its 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.
The primary goal of treating joint pain is to return your dog to normal mobility and activity levels. This is especially important because strong muscles around your dog's joints help to reduce the stress and strain on their joints. A healthy dog is active.
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.