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Joint Pain in Dogs - Signs, Causes & Treatment

Because dogs are generally active, joint issues can occur easily. This is especially true for older or larger breed dogs. Here, our Nashua vets share some information about joint pain in dogs, the signs to watch for and when you should seek veterinary care.

Joint Pain in Dogs

Dogs of all ages can experience joint pain, but it is especially common among senior dogs. Many 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 several more serious complications.

What are the causes of joint pain in dogs?

If your dog suffers from joint pain, it will fall into one of two categories: developmental or degenerative.

Developmental Joint Pain

Developmental joint issues are present in dogs 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 common concerns are genetic, such as hip or elbow dysplasia. 

While this issue can affect dogs of any breed or size, it is more common among 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 the breed may suffer from. A good breeder will give you that information unprompted, but it never hurts to ask if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Joint Pain

If your dog is suffering from degenerative joint issues, it means that their joints have been consistently wearing down over time. The most common of these joint issues is cruciate ligament problems, where their tissues degenerate over time and with repeated use until more severe problems and pain develop.

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 frustrating. Dogs typically push through the pain without showing signs, especially if it means doing something 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 shows any of the above signs or symptoms, bring them to your vet in Nashua for an examination as soon as possible. Our veterinarians 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 wonder how to help. 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 notice more serious symptoms, which suggest that more may be wrong, you should immediately bring the animal to your nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

Your vet will also complete a physical examination and examine the results of diagnostic tests. To better understand the problem, your vet may need to perform 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. In contrast, if caught early, some degenerative joint conditions can be treated by a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation and exercise prescribed by your vet.

By treating the joint pain, your vet can help get your pet moving and feeling better. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your pup's joints help reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. An active dog is a healthy one.

Most treatments will also involve assessing your dog's weight compared to their size. If your dog is overweight, it is 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 shows any signs of pain or discomfort, please contact our Nashua veterinarians to schedule an examination. 

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