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Joint Pain in Dogs

Our Blountville vets often see dogs in their office due to symptoms of joint pain. Although a common reason for joint pain is aging, there are effective treatments available to relieve discomfort in dogs of any age or activity level.

Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Dogs of all breeds and ages can experience joint pain, although it is more commonly observed in senior large breed dogs.

Many dog owners may mistake their aging animal friend's decrease in activity as a natural result of getting older, when in reality, it could be a sign of joint pain rather than simply the aging process. Failure to address this condition can often result in more serious injuries or conditions in the future. Continue reading to find out what our veterinarians have to say about the various types of joint pain in dogs, what causes it, the symptoms to look out for, and the available treatments.

Your dog may experience joint pain due to two types of conditions: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Joint Conditions

Improper joint development during puppyhood is referred to as 'developmental' joint conditions. Genetics often play a role in this medical condition, which can lead to more severe injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia. Your pup has these issues right from the beginning.

Painful joint issues are common in many large and giant dog breeds, including:

  • Rottweilers: prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs: commonly develop elbow dysplasia
  • Newfoundlands: prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
If you are getting a dog from a breeder, you should ask 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!

Degenerative Joint Conditions

Your dog's joints, like humans', degenerate over time as a result of repeated use. Conditions such as cartilage deterioration or tendon injuries may occur. These types of joint issues frequently involve problems with the cruciate ligament, which can cause pain as tissues degenerate over time. As a result, your beloved pet may suffer from increasingly serious problems and extreme discomfort.

Degenerative joint issues can have various root causes, ranging from stress fractures to injuries or osteoarthritis. Larger dogs often develop these issues due to the increased stress on their joints caused by their weight.

Symptoms to Look For

Dogs thrive on activity and enjoyment, making it challenging to detect any signs of joint pain they may be experiencing. Dogs in their youth and middle age who are dealing with initial joint pain often persist in engaging in activities with great enthusiasm, even if it causes them discomfort or exacerbates their condition.

Keep an eye on your dog for any signs of joint pain to prevent it from worsening. Look for early indicators, such as:

  • Limping and stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Frequent slipping while moving
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Licking, chewing, or biting at the painful area
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog without an obvious cause, it's a good idea to book an appointment with your vet, to have them examined for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

Treatments For Your Dog

The severity of a dog's joint pain and the underlying cause determine the appropriate treatment. Surgical intervention is required to correct conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia, whereas a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and exercise can be used to treat other degenerative joint conditions that are detected early.

During your dog's wellness exam, we will assess their weight based on their breed and size. Being overweight puts extra strain on the joints, so a diet might be recommended to alleviate this pressure.

Helping your dog regain their regular mobility and activities, pain-free, is the main focus of joint pain treatment. It is crucial to note that strong muscles surrounding your dog's joints can effectively minimize the pressure and tension exerted on their joints. A healthy dog is an active dog!

When is joint pain in dogs considered an emergency?

If your dog is experiencing sudden and severe joint pain, such as limping or difficulty getting up, it may be a sign of a serious underlying issue that requires immediate attention.

You should contact a vet if your dog's joint pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, redness, or warmth in the affected area. These could be signs of arthritis, injury, or infection that require medical intervention. 

If you’re unsure about whether your dog’s pain is an emergency, it is always better to err on the side of caution and have your dog evaluated by a professional to determine the cause of their joint pain and provide appropriate treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is for informational purposes and is not to be considered medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of joint pain, contact our Blountville vets. They can help your dog to move more comfortably again.

New Patients Welcome

Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

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Contact (423) 279-0574