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Recognizing & Treating Joint Pain in Dogs

Recognizing & Treating Joint Pain in Dogs

Dogs often come to see us at Powder Springs Animal Clinic for joint pain. In this blog, our veterinary team discusses the causes and symptoms of joint pain in dogs and how it can be treated.

What Causes Joint Pain in Dogs?

Dogs of all breeds and ages can develop joint pain, however, it's more common in large dog breeds.

In many situations, what dog owners believe to be is their companion "slowing down" from old age is actually a sign of joint pain, instead of just the process of aging. And, if joint pain goes untreated more serious injuries or conditions could arise in the future. Today, our vets share with your the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

Dogs can develop joint pain for two types of reasons: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Conditions

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.

Lots of breeds, more specifically giant and large dogs, are predisposed to painful joint problems including:

  • Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
  • Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
Are you getting your dog from a breeder? We recommend asking them if the lineage or breed might have any predispositions to joint problems. A good breeder will give you these details unprompted, but if you don't receive these details it's always a good idea to ask. 

Degenerative Joint Conditions

Repeated use over time leads to degenerative joint issues. These types of conditions include the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common of these kinds of joint issues. Pain is caused when tissues degenerate over time with repeated use until increasingly severe issues result.

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.

The Signs & Symptoms of Joint Pain To Watch For

Dogs love having fun and being active, and this can make it hard for you to detect if your dog is suffering from joint pain. If your dog is young or in their middle-aged years, and is still in the early stages of joint pain, they might keep enthusiastically participating in activities that could be causing them pain (or could be making their condition worse).

To help prevent your dog from experiencing increasingly severe pain from joint problems, keep an eye out for these early signs of joint discomfort:

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

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 your pooch examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treating Dog Joint Pain

Treatment for joint pain will vary based 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 rectify, while other degenerative joint conditions may be treated with a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise if caught early.

Your dog's veterinary assessment will also consist of evaluating your pooch's weight and comparing it to their size. Overweight dogs are putting extra strain on their joints, and your vet might prescribe a diet to help alleviate some of the weight their joints have to withstand.

The overarching goal of joint pain is to return your dog to their regular mobility and activities without having to feel pain. 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.

Contact our Powder Springs vets immediately to schedule an appointment if your dog is showing signs of joint pain.

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Looking for a vet in Powder Springs? Our experienced vets at Powder Springs Animal Clinic are passionate about providing outstanding veterinary care to pets and great customer service to their proud owners. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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