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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Just like us, dogs have the potential to experience injuries that affect their joints, especially as they age. Here, our Westminster vet specialists share some of the key information about joint pain in dogs, the signs and when you should seek veterinary care.

While joint pain can affect dogs of all ages, it can be especially common among senior dogs. May pet parents mistakenly think that their dog is just slowing down as they age when in reality they are suffering from joint pain. Unfortunately, if this condition is left untreated it can lead to a number of more serious complications.

What causes dog joint pain?

If your dog is suffering from joint pain it will fall under one of two categories: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Concerns

Developmental joint issues are present in your dog from the time they are born. Typically this type of joint condition stems from the improper development of the joints when your dog is still a puppy. Some of these common concerns are genetic such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. 

While this issue can affect dogs of any breed or size they are more common among the larger breeds. 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 most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.

When choosing a dog you should speak with the breeder about any potential issue that the breed may specifically suffer from. A good breeder will provide you with that information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Joint Concerns

If your dog suffering from degenerative joint issues it means that their joints have been consistently wearing down over time. 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. This type can be common in larger dogs that need to carry more weight than other breeds.

What are the signs that my dog may have joint pain?

Pinpointing pain in dogs can be a frustrating task. dogs will typically push through the pain without showing any signs, especially if it means doing something that they love!

some of the most common signs of joint pain in dogs are:

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

If your dog is showing any of the above signs or symptoms you should bring them to your vet in Westminster to have them examined as soon as possible, our veterinary specialists are here to help with any diagnostic tools if necessary.

When to Seek Care For a Dog Experiencing Joint Pain

When you first notice the signs of pain in your dog's joints you may be wondering what you can do to help them. Here is what to do if you think it may be time to seek veterinary care.

You should first contact your vet to schedule an examination. If you are noticing more serious symptoms that show that more may be wrong then you should bring them to your nearest emergency veterinary clinic right away.

Along with a complete physical examination, your vet will also look at the results of diagnostic tests. In order to better understand the problem, your vet may need to do X-rays, blood tests, or an ultrasound.

Treatment Options For Joint Pain in Dogs

As with many other health concerns, the severity and positioning of your injury will determine the possible treatment options. 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.

By treating the joint pain your vet can help to get your pet moving and feel better again. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your pup's joints actually 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 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.

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.

If your dog is in need of diagnostics beyond the scope of your regular vet to help determine the underlying cause of their joint pain, contact our Westminster vet specialists. 

New Patients Welcome

Choice Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary specialists are passionate about improving the health of Westminster animals with complex healthcare needs. Contact us today.

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