Dog Joint Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Beautiful Old Dog

For anyone with dogs, there is nothing worse than seeing them in pain. But sometimes even when a dog doesn’t show pain, they could still be struggling with it.

Joint pain is common in certain dog breeds, and while your dog may sometimes bark to give you a sign of pain, many times, the signs of joint pain are more subtle.

Here is all the information you need to know about dog joint pain, so you can spot the signs and get your four-legged friends to help as fast as possible.

SYMPTOMS OF DOG JOINT PAIN

Dog joint pain is similar to human pain, resulting in pain whenever pressure or movement is applied to a joint where two bones meet.

But while the mechanics may be the same, dogs’ visible symptoms with joint pain are not quite as obvious.

Signs of dog joint pain include:

  • Limping
  • Walking at a slower pace
  • Trouble with/taking longer to get up after lying down for long periods
  • Less interesting in physical activity like games or walks
  • Struggle/reluctance to jump
  • Stiffer gait
  • Sleeping/resting more
  • Swollen joints
  • Making noise or recoiling when touched
  • Repetitively licking their joints
  • Swelling at a joint
  • Having toilet accidents inside the house/changing their posture when urinating or defecating
  • Tiredness

Dogs can often hide their pain, so it’s important to look out for these signs to determine if your dog needs help for their joint pain. Otherwise, they could continue to suffer in silence.

CAUSES OF DOG JOINT PAIN

A range of causes and conditions can result in dog joint pain, and understanding these conditions can help you to quickly identify your dog’s health issues and get them help.

OSTEOARTHRITIS

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that destroys cartilage. The cartilage's role in a joint is to provide a cushion that lubricates the joint and allows for smooth motion of the bones at the joint. When this cartilage breaks down, as it does in dogs with osteoarthritis, the joint loses its cushion, and bone begins to touch bone, resulting in pain, inflammation, and movement loss and function.

Osteoarthritis can develop after repetitive joint stress, injury, malnutrition, or infection related to age and obesity. Specific dog breeds can also be more prone to osteoarthritis, such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid arthritis results in the same erosion of cartilage as osteoarthritis, but it occurs for different reasons. Instead of being caused by an event or stress, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system misfires and starts to attack healthy tissue. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the cartilage tissue, leaving your dog with painful joints and a reduced motion range.

Rheumatoid arthritis is less common in dogs than osteoarthritis. However, some breeds are more susceptible to developing it. Dog breeds, including Great Danes and some smaller-sized breeds, may have a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

CONGENITAL DISORDERS

Congenital birth disorders can also result in your dog experiencing joint pain. For example, Wobbler’s syndrome is a condition where dogs experience a malformation of their vertebrae. This congenital disorder is more common in breeds like Great Danes and Dobermans and can result in a wobbly gait and pain and weakness in the neck and front limbs.

DOG JOINT PAIN TREATMENT

Treatment for dog joint pain depends on the condition or events that lead to joint pain development. Here are some of the common treatment options for dog joint pain.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, work to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever, making them ideal for managing dog joint pain and targeting inflammation.

NSAIDs work by reducing the production of a type of enzymes called prostaglandins that control inflammation and blood flow. By reducing the production of these enzymes, NSAIDs can reduce the inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain that often occurs with joint conditions.

CORTICOSTEROIDS

Corticosteroids are steroid hormones that are strong anti-inflammatories. Corticosteroids can reduce the swelling, redness, and itching that can occur alongside your dog’s joint pain. When given at high doses, corticosteroids can also have an immunosuppressive effect, meaning that they may help prevent or slow down the immune response, resulting in rheumatoid arthritis.

SUPPLEMENTATION

As well as medications like NSAIDs and corticosteroids, supplementation can also improve the symptoms and causes of dog joint pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory effects and have shown to significantly improve the symptoms of conditions that can result in joint pain. A 2009 study found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced several inflammatory markers that play key roles in osteoarthritis development (1). A meta-analysis found that omega-3 supplementation reduced intensity, stiffness, and individual locations of joint pain in human patients (2).

Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich organic compound found in foods like broccoli and brussel sprouts. Sulforaphane has been found to decrease pro-inflammatory markers in studies (3), and a cell study from 2014 even found that it inhibited the development of rheumatoid arthritis (4).

Kaempferol is naturally occurring in broccoli, spinach, and kale. Kaempferol has also been shown to reduce inflammation. Studies have shown it may be able to prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis through its anti-inflammatory action (5, 6).

For a canine supplement covering all of these compounds and offering excellent protection for your dog from joint pain, try Apple Love Pet’s Healthy Joint & Senior Blend.

Dog eating AppleLove Healthy Joint & Senior Blend

This easy-to-give treat provides your dog with spinach, broccoli, omega-3 fatty acids, and all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your dog needs to fight dog joint pain and live a healthier, happier life.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Dog joint pain can be hard to spot as a pet owner but can be extremely painful for your dog and seriously affect their quality of life.

The good news is that there are many effective treatment options for dog joint pain. Ensuring you know the signs and symptoms of dog joint pain means that you’ll be able to get your four-legged friend help quickly, should they need it.