dog joint pain

Key takeaway

There are two types of joint pain in dogs, categorized as degenerative joint issues and developmental joint issues. Treatment requires veterinary diagnosis. Age, weight, breed, and overall health can affect a dog’s joints and make joint pain more likely. 

 When people get older, they tend to experience joint pain. Going up and down the stairs is suddenly a workout for your knees and you find it more difficult to do simple tasks. And just like how humans tend to get joint pain with age, so do dogs.

Joint pain can affect any breed of dog, and it can happen at any age, but it’s most common in older dogs. You might first notice that your dog is experiencing joint pain when they have a hard time doing the things they used to enjoy, like playing or going on walks. Joint problems in dogs is common, but it can lead to more serious complications in your pup if it goes untreated for a long period of time.

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of dog joint pain so that you can get your pup the proper treatment they need. In this article, we’ll talk about the various dog joint pain symptoms, what causes dog joint pain, joint problems in dogs treatment, and more. Read on from start to finish for a comprehensive understanding of dog joint pain, or use the links below to skip to a section of your choice.

Signs That Your Dog Is Suffering From Joint Pain

It can be hard to tell if your dog is suffering from joint problems, especially if they tend to cover up their pain. You might think that your dog walking more slowly than usual is just because they’re tired, and not because they’re suffering from joint pain.

Dog joint problems tend to get worse over time, so even if you can’t tell that your furry friend is in pain in the beginning stages, you’ll likely be able to tell once it progresses. However, it’s always better to catch joint problems in their beginning stages so that you can treat it early on. This is why it’s so important to be aware of the common dog joint pain symptoms, which include:

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

If you notice any of these above symptoms in your pup, you should bring them to the vet as soon as possible. If your dog is getting older, you should also be more hyper aware of your dog’s behaviors. You should also keep an eye out for dog deafness, vision loss, and weight changes in your pup as these are all signs of old age. Once your dog reaches a certain age, they’re more likely to experience joint pain, so it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for. 

What Causes Joint Pain in Dogs?

In order to effectively treat joint pain in dogs, you need to know what is causing it. There are two types of joint pain in dogs, which we will discuss in more detail below:

Two Main Types of Joint Pain in Dogs

  • Degenerative Joint Issues

This type of joint pain in dogs is caused by repeated use of the joints. This causes the cartilage to wear down within the joint, resulting in bone on bone contact, which leads to joint pain. Cruciate ligament injury within the knee  is one of the most common injuries that leads to degenerative joint disease. This injury is characterized by tearing of the cranial cruciate ligament, joint instability, and arthritis development over time. 

Degenerative joint issues can be caused by stress, osteoarthritis, or injuries. However, this type of joint pain is most common in bigger dogs, as there’s more weight that is being put on their joints. 

  • Developmental Joint Issues

A dog is born with this type of joint abnormality. Developmental joint issues are typically due to genetics and cause a dog’s joint to develop poorly at a young age. 

This type of joint pain is most common in larger dogs, but it can happen to any breed or size of dog. However, certain dog breeds are more susceptible to developmental joint issues. For instance, Bernese Mountain Dogs are more likely to have elbow dysplasia and Rottweilers commonly experience knee and ankle problems.

Risk Factors That Make a Dog More Likely To Experience Joint Pain

There are certain risk factors that make a dog more likely to experience joint pain. It’s good to be aware of these risk factors so that you can keep a close watch on your dog, especially as they get older. These risk factors include:

  • Age: Older dogs are much more likely to develop joint problems than younger dogs. 80% of dogs will show signs of arthritis by the time they’re eight, while only 20% of dogs show signs before the age of one.
  • Weight: Larger dogs who weigh more are more likely to experience joint pain as their weight puts more stress on their joints. It’s crucial to keep your dog at a healthy weight and make sure they eat properly and exercise regularly, especially if they are a larger breed.
  • Breed: Certain dog breeds are predisposed to experiencing joint pain at a young age, such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. 
  • Health issues: If your dog has any genetic health issues, such as hip dysplasia or knee problems, then they’re likely more at risk of developing joint pain. If your dog has had any injuries that have damaged their joints, that also puts them more at risk. 

How to Treat Joint Pain in Dogs

Treating joint problems in dogs ultimately depends on the primary cause and the severity of the pain. For example, if your dog suffers from hip or elbow dysplasia, they will likely need surgery to fix it. Certain degenerative joint issues can be treated with exercise and rehabilitation if they’re caught early enough. 

If your dog is experiencing joint problems due to being overweight, your vet may recommend a specialized diet plan and exercise regimen to help them lose weight. Your vet may also recommend medication to relieve joint pain. Joint supplements are typically prescribed to improve function and reduce inflammation, and NSAIDs are prescribed to reduce pain and decrease inflammation in the joints. The main goal of any treatment is to increase the comfort and mobility of your dog.  

Dog Joint Pain: Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do for my dog's joint pain?

There are a couple of ways you can go about treating your dog’s joint pain. Depending on the cause and severity of the problem, your vet may recommend surgery, medication, or weight loss. There are a few at-home treatment methods you can try out as well, such as massage therapy and natural supplements. But as always, your vet will have the best idea of how to go about treating joint pain in a dog. Always consult your vet first before trying out any home remedies for your pup’s joint problems.

pet owner feeling dog’s leg

How do I know if my dog has joint pain?

You can tell if your dog has joint pain if they are more irritable than normal, are walking slower, take longer to get up in the morning, are sleeping more, and are reluctant to go on walks or take part in regular activities. If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog, you should consult with a vet as soon as possible.

What are the first signs of arthritis in dogs?

The first signs of arthritis in dogs that an owner will typically notice are difficulty getting up and down, stiffness while walking, reluctance to go up or down the stairs, and stiff or swollen joints. The signs of dog joint pain progress slowly over time, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog so you can identify the symptoms early on.

What is the best joint pain relief for dogs?

Your vet will have the best idea of the right joint pain relief for your dog. However, NSAIDs are typically prescribed to relieve joint pain and reduce swelling.

Final Notes

Dealing with dogs and joint pain can be stressful. You know your pup is in pain, but what can you do to help them? Fortunately, there are various ways you can go about treating dog joint pain so you can get your pup up and walking like normal. But you can’t treat your dog’s joint problem without the help of a vet. And you can get this help on Dutch.com

Dutch provides convenient telemedicine for pets, so you can focus more on treating your dog than securing an appointment with your local vet. Dutch-affiliated vets are qualified to help with all sorts of issues, from prescribing a dog laxative to identifying the difference between dog ear mites vs. ear wax.

Here at Dutch, we want you to receive the care you need as quickly as possible, which is why we offer prescription delivery right to your home. So whether you need help diagnosing a trembling dog or treating dandruff in dogs, we’ve got you covered with high-quality care that you can access right from home. With Dutch, there’s no need to stress about not getting an appointment with your vet. We’ll bring the vet to you, so your pup can be healthy and thriving before you know it.