Our Corpus Christi 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" as a result of old age is often a symptom of joint pain rather than the aging process. And, if not treated, this condition can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions in the future. Our veterinarians explain the different 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 development of the joints while your dog is young, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip or elbow dysplasia. These issues are present in your pup from the outset.
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
Over time, repeated use causes degenerative joint issues. These conditions include cartilage wear and tear as well as a tendon injury. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common type of joint problem. Pain occurs when tissues degenerate over time as a result of repeated use, resulting in increasingly severe 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 challenging to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. Young and middle-aged dogs experiencing the early stages of joint pain will often continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain (or leading to 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 doesn't have an obvious cause, it's time to take them to your Corpus Christi 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 get your dog back to its regular mobility and level of activity. 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.