Dog joint pain is, unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence. While large breed dogs are the population most affected by joint issues, research indicates that 20% of all dogs will suffer from some form of arthritis during their lifetimes. Indeed, it is one of the most common causes of chronic pain that veterinarians treat. Read on to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of dog joint pain.
Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs
Dog joint pain is caused by either developmental or degenerative problems. Developmental problems are the result of a hereditary predisposition, two of the most common being elbow and hip dysplasia. Degenerative problems are those that have developed over time, usually due to age or overuse. Older dogs, for example, can develop osteoarthritis as a result of years of wear and tear on their joints and ligaments.
Certain dog breeds are predisposed to joint problems. Large breeds that carry a lot of weight on their joints are in general more likely to have developmental or degenerative problems. Some breeds are more susceptible to specific joint problems -- Rottweilers tend to have knee and ankle issues, Bernese Mountain dogs are prone to elbow dysplasia, and Newfoundlands have the highest prevalence of cruciate ligament disease, which can lead to arthritis.
Joint Pain Symptoms
Joint pain symptoms tend to appear gradually, and may include:
- Difficulty sitting, standing, or lying down
- Slowness or stiffness when getting up
- Trouble climbing the stairs
- A reluctance to jump or run
- Decreased activity or less interest in normal activities
- Limping or holding a limb up off the ground
- Joint swelling or stiffness
8 Joint Pain Treatment Options
If your dog’s symptoms don’t go away after two weeks, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. Chances are, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and take some x-rays. The sooner you begin treatment for joint pain, the better off your dog will be.
The course of treatment will depend on the cause of your dog’s joint pain and the severity. Some joint problems may require surgery while others can be treated with lifestyle changes, supplements, and/or medications.
Surgical treatment may include:
- Arthroscopic cleaning of the joint
- Tissue replacement
- Joint replacement
Non-surgical treatment may include:
- Weight Management -- Getting your dog down to a healthy weight reduces strain on the joints and can also decrease joint inflammation caused by fat.
- Strengthening -- Better muscle mass and muscle function protects your dog’s joints. Strengthening can be accomplished through a regular, safe exercise such as physical therapy.
- Food & Supplements -- Many foods and supplements contain ingredients or additives that can improve joint health for dogs. For example, fish oil helps decrease inflammation and chondroitin and glucosamine for dogs have regenerative properties for joints. Dasuquin for dogs is prime example of a useful joint health supplement.
- Medications -- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, (such as Carprofen, Rimadyl, and Previcox) and glucocorticoids (such as Prednisone) offer relief from joint pain and inflammation. Certain analgesics or pain relievers may also be used if pain cannot be controlled with other medications.
More on Joint Pain
Joint Health Products for Pets with Arthritis
5 Ways To Prevent Joint Problems in Your Dog
Comparing Rimadyl vs. Novox for Dog Pain
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.