Joint Pain in Dogs: Signs, Causes, & Treatment

Joint pain in dogs can heavily impact their quality of life and lead to more serious medical conditions. Today, our Monroe vets explain joint pain in dogs, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Joint pain is common in dogs of all breeds and ages but is much more common as our pups grow older. What many pet parents interpret as their dog "slowing down", can often be caused by joint pain rather than just old age.

If your dog's joint pain isn't addressed, it can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

Types of Joint Pain in Dogs

There are two types of joint issues which can be causing pain for your dog: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Issues

Developmental joint problems are present in your pup from the outset. These are issues caused by improperly developed joints while your dog is young, which is often rooted in their genetics, and may result in more serious injuries like hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia.

Many breeds of dogs are predisposed to a variety of joint issues that will cause them pain. These issues are much more common in larger dogs but can be found in pups of any size. 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 Issues

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. The most common of these kinds of joint issues is cruciate ligament problems, where their tissues degenerate over time and with repeated use until more severe problems and pain develop as a result.

When it comes to degenerative joint issues, the actual root cause can widely vary 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 in Dogs

It may be difficult to tell if your dog is experiencing joint pain. They tend to be somewhat stoic and, especially if they are young, they will continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain (or leading to worsening of their condition) if they enjoy it.

That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms of joint pain that your pup may express:

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

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

Treatments for Dog Joint Pain

The appropriate treatment for joint pain and its underlying cause in your dog will vary based on its severity and the specific root cause. Conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to rectify, while some degenerative joint conditions if caught early, can be treated by a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise prescribed by your vet.

While the specific treatment may vary, the primary goal of treating joint pain in your dog is to get them back to their regular mobility and level of activity. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your pup's joints help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. An active dog is a healthy one.

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.

If you notice any signs of joint pain in your pup, Contact our Monroe vets today.