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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint pain can affect dogs of all ages, reducing their quality of life. Ignoring this issue could result in serious conditions and injuries. Recognizing signs of joint pain in your dog can be challenging unless you understand what to observe. Our vets in Ankeny outline the various types of joint pain in dogs and their causes and treatments.

While joint pain is common in dogs of all ages and breeds, our canine friends are much more prone to suffering from it as they age. Many pet parents observe their dogs "slowing down," often attributing it solely to old age without recognizing that joint pain may be the underlying cause. Failure to address the condition responsible for the pain can result in the development of more serious conditions or injuries in the future. In this post, our vets delve into the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for dog joint pain.

Types & Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Two types of joint issues may be causing pain for your dog: developmental and degenerative. 

Developmental Joint Issues

If your dog's joints develop improperly while they are young, they can experience persistent developmental joint problems that cause painful symptoms and affect their quality of life. These issues often stem from genetics and may lead to more serious injuries such as elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia.

Many dog breeds are predisposed to joint issues that cause pain. Although larger dogs are much more likely to experience these problems, developmental joint issues can affect dogs of any size. For instance, Bernese Mountain Dogs often develop elbow dysplasia. At the same time, Newfoundlands are prone to issues in the cruciate ligament, and Rottweilers are susceptible to joint problems in their ankles and knees.

If you plan to purchase a dog from a breeder, our Ankeny vets recommend inquiring about any predispositions their lineage or breed may have to joint issues. A good breeder will provide that information unprompted, but it's always prudent to ask if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Joint Issues 

Repeated use of a joint over time causes these problems. A dog's joint cartilage can wear down, or the tendon can suffer injury. One common type of degenerative joint issue is cruciate ligament problems, which result in tissue degeneration over time due to repeated use, leading to more severe problems and pain.

The root causes of degenerative joint issues can vary widely, from injuries to stress fractures or osteoarthritis. Larger dogs often develop these issues, as their weight imposes more stress on their joints over time.

Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs

Detecting joint pain in your dog can be challenging. Dogs often exhibit stoic behavior, and particularly when they're young, they may persistently engage in activities that could exacerbate their discomfort without showing obvious signs.

However, your pup may still communicate joint pain through various symptoms, including: 

  • Limping and stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Frequent slipping while moving about
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Depression
  • Licking, chewing or biting the affected area
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it might be time to bring them to your Ankeny vet to examine them for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs 

Conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia necessitate surgical intervention for correction. Conversely, when detected early, some degenerative joint conditions can be addressed through a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise prescribed by your vet.
The primary goal of treating joint pain in your dog is to restore their regular mobility and level of activity. Well-developed muscles around your pup's joints help reduce the stress and strain they endure. An active dog is a healthy one.

Most treatments also involve assessing your dog's weight relative to their size. If they are overweight, they exert additional strain on their joints, and a prescribed diet may alleviate the burden on their pained joints.

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.

To learn more about how joint pain in dogs is diagnosed and treated. Please contact our vets to book a consultation. 

New Patients Welcome

Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our Ankeny vets take the time to get to know our clients and treat every pet as if it were our own. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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