When it comes to pain, various types of joint pain are one of the most common reasons that we see many dogs. Our La Mesa vets discuss some of the causes and symptoms of joint pain in dogs as well as how to manage it.

Most Common Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

While senior and larger breeds of dogs may more commonly experience joint issue, they are conditions that can affect dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages.

Often what many dog owners interpret as their pooch "slowing down" due to old age, is actually a symptom of joint pain rather than just the aging process. And, if this condition isn't addressed, it can often lead to more serious injuries or conditions down the road. Here, our vets explain the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for joint pain in dogs.

There are two types of conditions that can cause your dog to experience joint pain: developmental and degenerative.

Developmental Conditions

If a dog's joints fail to develop properly, it can lead to potential developmental conditions which are more often than not a genetic issue and may result in more serious injuries like hip or elbow dysplasia. These concerns will normally be noticeable from when the puppy is quite young.

Large dogs breeds are particularly susceptible to certain conditions. These breeds might include:

  • Rottweilers are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs commonly develop elbow dysplasia
  • Newfoundlands are one of the breeds that are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament.
If you are purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should consider asking 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 if you don't receive it.

Degenerative Conditions

If a joint is repeatedly used and injured or broken down, this can lead to joint problems that are known as degenerative. These types of conditions include the wearing down of cartilage or the injury of tendons. Cruciate ligament problems are the most common of these kinds of joint issues. Pain is caused when tissues degenerate over time with repeated use until increasingly severe issues result.

There are a variety of potential causes behind joint pain which can be difficult to pinpoint such as stress fractures to injuries or osteoarthritis. But often, they will develop in larger dogs, whose weight places more stress on their joints over time.

Common Symptoms of Joint Pain

Because dogs don't tend to slow down often, it can be hard to tell when they are experiencing joint pain  Young and middle-aged dogs experiencing the early stages of joint pain will often continue to enthusiastically participate in activities that may be causing them pain (or leading to worsening of their condition).

It is important to be aware of all potential signs of joint pain in your dog, such as:

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

It is time to call your vet if you are noticing any of these signs of joint distress in your dog in order to have your vet examine them for joint pain and its underlying conditions.

How To Treat Joint Pain in Dogs

Treatment for joint pain will vary based on the severity of your dog's condition and the specific root cause. Conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia will require surgical intervention to rectify, while other degenerative joint conditions may be treated with a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation and exercise if caught early.

Your dog's examination will also involve an assessment of your pup'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.

The main goal of treatment for joint pain is to get your dog back to living their best pain-free life while enjoying all of their favorite activities. This is especially important because well-developed muscles around your dog's joints actually help to reduce the stress and strain they place on their joints. An active dog is a healthy dog.

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.

Are you concerned about signs of joint pain in your dog? Please contact our La Mesa vets today to have us help your pup live a healthy and comfortable life.