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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint pain is a common condition affecting dogs of all ages, affecting their quality of life and potentially leading to quite serious conditions and injuries if left unchecked. This pain may be hard to notice unless you know what to look for. Here, our Hattiesburg vets explain joint pain in dogs, including its varieties, causes and treatment options. 

Joint pain is a frequent occurrence in dogs, regardless of their breed or age. However, it becomes more prevalent as dogs enter their senior years. While dog owners may perceive this as a natural part of aging and a sign of their pet "slowing down," it is often the result of joint pain rather than simply old age.

Neglecting to address this condition can potentially lead to more severe injuries and complications. In this article, our veterinarians provide insights into the possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options for managing your dog's joint pain.

Types and Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

There are two possible varieties of joint issues that can be causing your dog pain: degenerative and developmental joint pain. 

Developmental Joint Issues

Developmental joint issues in dogs are present right from their birth. These issues often arise due to genetic factors, causing the puppy's joints to develop improperly during their early stages of life. Serious conditions such as elbow or hip dysplasia can stem from these issues later on.

Many dog breeds are prone to various forms of joint problems that can cause discomfort and pain. While larger dogs are more commonly affected, joint issues can occur in dogs of any size.

For instance, Rottweilers are susceptible to knee and ankle joint problems, Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly experience elbow dysplasia, and Newfoundlands are particularly prone to issues with their cruciate ligament.

If you're considering getting a dog from a breeder, it's a good idea to inquire about any genetic predispositions their specific breed or lineage may have regarding joint issues. A reputable breeder will likely provide this information without prompting, but don't hesitate to ask for it as well. Being well-informed about potential joint concerns can help you make a more informed decision when selecting a furry companion.

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 root cause will vary wildly. They can range from stress fractures to injuries and osteoarthritis. But often, they will develop in larger dogs since their weight places more stress on your pup's joints over time.

Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs

It can be hard to tell whether or not your dog is suffering from joint pain. Our canine companions will tend to be somewhat stoic and, when they are young, they will also often continue to enthusiastically play. worsening their condition.

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

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

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

Treatments For Joint Pain In Dogs 

The treatment for joint pain in dogs and addressing its underlying cause depends on the severity and specific nature of the issue. For instance, conditions like hip or elbow dysplasia often necessitate surgical intervention to correct the problem.

On the other hand, certain degenerative joint conditions, if identified early, can be managed through a combination of veterinary-prescribed nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise. It's essential to consult with your vet to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your dog's joint pain, tailored to their specific needs.

While the specific treatment may vary from case to case, the goal of treatment is to get them back to their regular level of activity and mobility. This is especially important for your dog's long-term health since well-developed muscles around their joints will actually help to reduce the load those joints have to bear themselves. An active dog is a healthy dog.

Most treatments will also involve an assessment of your dog's weight compared to their 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.

To learn more about how we can assess, diagnose and treat your pup, contact our Hattiesburg veterinary team right away.

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The Pet Hospital (Parkway) is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals in Hattiesburg and Petal. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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