Joint Problems in Dogs

collie jumping into lake - joint problems in dogs

Depending on your dog’s age, breed, size, weight, and activity level it might develop joint problems such as osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis), hip dysplasia or tears in your dog’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). 

While some breeds of dogs such as the Rottweiler are more prone to joint issues, it appears that size and weight are the chief culprits in most dogs.

Common signs that your dog is experiencing joint problems are difficulty climbing stairs or steps, jumping on a sofa, not running as long as it used to, or your dog may start holding up its limb. In the case of hip dysplasia, a dog may exhibit the following symptoms: run with an altered gait, resist fully extending or flexing the rear legs, run with a bunny-hopping gait, display stiffness or pain in the rear legs especially after exercising or early in the morning. In not treated right away, a dog with hip dysplasia will eventually lose its ability to walk.  If you notice one or more of these signs, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Keeping your dog at a proper weight is a good way to help reduce joint problems especially in larger dogs. Excess weight creates undue stress on a dog’s joints. A breeder or your veterinarian will be able to tell you what your dog’s proper weight should be. There are many weight management dog foods that can help your pooch shed those extra pounds.

If your dog is diagnosed with joint issues, your veterinarian might take two approaches: surgical or non-surgical. If the veterinarian chooses a surgical method, it may include arthroscopic cleaning of the joint or a joint replacement in extreme cases.

A non-surgical approach includes a weight loss program as previously mentioned, body conditioning which is basically strength training, and/or supplements for dogs with fish oils to help reduce inflammation in the joints.

Joint Supplements for Dogs – a preventive solution. Dog joint supplements help prevent cartilage breakdown, protect existing cartilage and stimulate cartilage production. Most joint supplements for dogs contain a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin and ASU to help improve joint function. Dasuquin, Cosequin , Glyco-Flex , and VetCrafted are the more common dog joint supplements available on the market. And they are available without a prescription.

For the treatment of hip dysplasia, your veterinarian might recommend one of the following surgical procedures: total hip replacement, triple pelvic osteotomy, or femoral head and neck excision. Non-surgical treatments include: weight management, mild exercise, or physical therapy. Your veterinarian may also prescribe pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications for dogs with arthritis. Some of the more typical medications are Rimadyl, Meloxicam, or Vetprofen.

In summary, dog joint problems are caused by age, size and weight, and level of activity. Certain breeds may be more prone to joint problems than others, but in most cases obesity is at the root of most joint problems in dogs. A slowing down in physical activity, or difficulty in climbing steps or jumping on furniture are signs that your dog may have joint problems. Only your veterinarian will be able to give you a proper diagnosis. While some cases might require surgery, a weight-loss regimen with strength building exercises may help most cases. In addition, dog joint supplements are a great preventative treatment.

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