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Dog Joint Pain - How to Spot the Signs

Dog Joint Pain - How to Spot the Signs

If your dog is suffering from joint pain the quality of its life could be greatly impacted. If joint pain goes untreated it can lead to a more serious condition or injury. However, it can be hard to detect the early signs of joint pain in dogs. In this blog, our Tigard vets discuss the types of joint pain in dogs, its causes, ways to recognize it, and how it's treated. 

Joint pain is a common condition that is seen in dogs of all breeds and ages, however, our vets see it most often in geriatric dogs. What many dog owners believe is their pup "slowing down", can often be caused by joint pain instead of old age. And, if this issue goes without treatment, it could cause more serious conditions or injuries in the future. Today, our vets discuss the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for dog joint pain.

The Types & Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

In regards to joint pain in dogs, there are two kinds of issues that can cause your pooch pain: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Problems

Developmental joint issues are present in your dog from the beginning. These problems are brought on as a result of improper development of the joints when your pooch is young, which is often rooted in their genetics and can cause more severe injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia.

Lots of dog breeds, particularly large and giant breed dogs, are predisposed to a range of painful joint problems. For example, Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems, Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia and Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.

If you are purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should consider asking them about any predispositions their breed or lineage might have to joint issues. A good breeder will provide you with that information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Joint Problems

Degenerative joint issues are caused by repeated use over time of your dog's joints, including 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.

In terms of degenerative joint issues, the actual underlying cause can range greatly from injuries to stress fractures or osteoarthritis. However, they will often develop in larger dogs, whose weight adds more stress to their joints over time.

Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs

It can be hard to tell if your pooch is suffering joint pain because dogs can be fairly stoic, especially if they are young. Dogs will keep enthusiastically participating in activities that could be causing them pain (or making their condition worse).

To help your dog avoid increasingly severe pain as a result of joint problems monitor them for the earliest signs of discomfort, including:

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

If you see your dog displaying any of these behaviors without a known or visible cause, you should take them to the vet, so your veterinarian can diagnose your pup's condition and provide treatment.

Treatments Available For Dog Joint Pain

The appropriate treatment for joint pain and its underlying cause in your dog 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.

While the actual treatments can vary, the main goal of treating your dog's joint pain is to get them back to their regular mobility and activity level. This is very important because well-developed muscles around your dog's joints can help to reduce the strain and stress they apply to their joints. An active dog is a healthy one.

Most treatments will also consist of an assessment of your dog's weight compared to their size. If they are overweight, they are placing extra strain on their joints and your veterinarian might prescribe a diet to help ease the amount of weight your pup's pained joints have to bear.

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 showing signs of joint pain? Contact our Tigard vets immediately to schedule an appointment.

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Cascade Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients! Get in touch with us today for information on how to book a specialty appointment for your pet. 

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