Joint pain is a common medical concern among dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes, though it's most often observed in senior canines of larger breeds.
Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds are large breeds prone to decreased mobility, joint pain, and arthritis when they reach their senior years.
If left unchecked or untreated, joint pain in dogs can lead to more serious conditions and injuries. However, it can be difficult to notice your dog is experiencing joint pain unless you know what to watch out for.
In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments for joint pain in dogs to prepare you in case this happens to your pet.
Symptoms and Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs
While dogs tend to remain energetic despite joint pain or any minor physical difficulty, you may notice that your pet will have trouble with activities they’re supposed to be accustomed to, such as walking or running, playing fetch, or climbing the stairs.
However, your dog may continue to participate in these activities as long as they enjoy them, and their joint pain will only worsen over time if nothing is done about it.
Here are other common symptoms of joint pain that you may observe:
- Limping and frequent slipping
- Difficulty sitting and/or standing
- Loss of appetite
- Licking and nibbling on the affected area
- Joint swelling
If you notice your dog exhibiting these behaviors without an obvious cause, we suggest bringing them to your trusted veterinarian or clinic as soon as possible.
What Causes Joint Pain in Dogs?
Two possible types may be causing your pet pain–developmental and degenerative joint conditions.
Developmental Joint Conditions
Developmental joint conditions indicate problems due to improperly developed joints and can lead to hip or elbow dysplasia, among other issues.
Several canine breeds are predisposed to joint conditions that can cause long-term pain. For example, Newfoundlands are most prone to developing issues in their cruciate ligament, and Rottweilers often suffer from knee and ankle joint problems.
If you are looking to purchase a dog from a breeder who specializes in said breed or canine class, it is best to inquire about the predispositions of their lineage. You can also ask if the breed you’re buying is known for developing joint problems in the long run. A respectable breeder would be well aware of this information and provide it unprompted.
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Degenerative joint conditions are caused by repeated use of your dog’s joints and can include the wearing down of cartilage and tendon injuries as they grow older. For instance, senior dogs can develop osteoarthritis due to years of wear and tear on their joints and ligaments.
Cruciate ligament problems are the most common under this type of joint condition. They indicate that pain occurs when your dog’s tissues degenerate over time until the issues become more severe and difficult to handle.
How to Ease Joint Pain in Dogs
Treatment for joint pain in dogs depends on the severity of your pet's condition and its root cause. While some degenerative joint conditions may be treated with a combination of nutrition, rehabilitation, and consistent exercise, as indicated by your veterinarian, others may be better suited to be addressed and corrected surgically
While the methods may vary, the main goal of treating joint pain is to get your dog back to its regular mobility and level of activity. Well-developed and maintained joints will go a long way in reducing your pet's stress and strain.
To arrive at the ideal method of treating your dog’s joint pain, your veterinarian will likely assess your pet’s weight compared to their size. Being overweight can add stress to your dog’s joints, so a specific diet may be prescribed.
Here are other ways to treat joint pain in dogs:
Modifying your home to accommodate your dog’s joint pain will go a long way toward their recovery and maintenance. You can start by eliminating slippery surfaces that may cause your pet to lose its balance.
Purchasing anti-slip rugs, carpets, and mats for areas your dog frequents will help minimize the risk of accidents, even if you aren’t always around to monitor your pet.
An Orthopedic Dog Bed
An orthopedic dog bed made of memory foam will support your dog’s joints and limbs, so it won’t struggle when lying down or getting up. A more comfortable bed option is especially important for thinner canines whose bones may rub uncomfortably on hard surfaces.
Massages are an effective way to improve your dog’s circulation and increase its mobility and flexibility. Note that you may want to avoid directly applying pressure on their bones and instead concentrate on their muscles. You can likewise schedule an appointment with a professional.
A Sling or Harness
You can consider buying a sling or harness to help your dog get around the house or go outside for bathroom breaks and exercise, especially if it just underwent surgery for joint pain. A harness will safeguard your dog’s movements as they recover and protect its affected limbs.
Physical therapy and daily exercise can be beneficial to dogs experiencing joint pain. You can begin with short walks for up to 15 minutes, about three times a day. After allowing your dog to grow accustomed to the routine and consulting your veterinarian, you may try other activities like running, jumping, and chasing.
Oral supplements that contain methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), glucosamine hydrochloride, omega-3 fatty acids – such as eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – and chondroitin sulfate are known for supporting joint health in dogs.
Fish oil, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, is regarded as one of the best supplements for joint pain in dogs. While it won’t cure your pet’s condition, it can help manage pain and aid your pet in becoming more active.
Stryde™ fish oil contains 100 to 200 mg/kg of EPA and DHA to support your dog's heart, joints, skin, and immune system. For more information on how fish oil improves the overall well-being of our pets, visit our blog today.