Recognizing the Signs of Joint Pain & Providing Relief
Dogs of all ages can experience joint pain; it’s not just a problem for seniors anymore. Common causes of joint pain in dogs include:
- Tendon, ligament, or muscle diseases leading to tears or ruptures
- Joint fractures
- Congenital and metabolic disorders
- Hormonal, dietary, or inflammatory conditions, like Lyme disease
Another major cause of joint pain is obesity. That’s because carrying extra weight can be as hard on a dog’s body as it is on ours!
But how do you know if your dog is in pain? And is there anything you can do to help?
Symptoms of Joint Pain
It’s not always easy to know if your dog hurts because they may not yelp, whine, or hold a paw out in pain. Fortunately, dogs offer other clues to let you know they’re uncomfortable.
Common signs of joint pain in dogs include:
- Moving slowly or stiffly when getting up
- Lagging behind on walks
- Having problems climbing stairs
- Being reluctant to run or jump
- Holding a limb off the ground or limping
- Having difficulty standing, sitting, or lying down
- Expressing less interest in normal activities
- Decreasing energy levels
- Becoming irritable
- Losing muscle
Some dogs also have visible swelling or stiffness in their joints or obsessively lick tender areas of their body.
Treating Joint Pain
If you think your dog has joint pain, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. After diagnosing their condition, your vet might recommend a variety of therapies based on the severity of your dog’s symptoms, their age and overall health, and the cause of their discomfort.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your dog healthy and comfortable is address any existing weight issues. Losing weight helps minimize joint pain and inflammation by decreasing excess strain on your dog’s body. Talk to your vet about the safest way to help your dog lose weight, especially if they have health issues or pain that affects their ability to exercise comfortably.
Foods & Supplements
Certain ingredients or additives — like fish oil, chondroitin, and glucosamine — can have a regenerative quality on joints and help with pain. Before supplementing your dog’s diet, talk to your vet about your concerns, and ask for their nutritional and supplement recommendations that support joint health.
Physical Therapy & Complementary Treatments
Vets with advanced training in canine rehabilitation and sports medicine — like Dr. Julia Tomlinson at Twin Cities Animal Rehab and Sports Medicine in Burnsville — offer a wide range of complementary treatments, such as physical therapy, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture. These therapies can offer significant pain relief, especially if your dog has a chronic or degenerative condition.
Sometimes, pain relievers might be the best option to keep your dog comfortable. But, never give your dog pills made for humans. After talking with your vet, they might recommend prescription medications, like carprofen, meloxicam, or glucocorticoids, to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
Remember, if you think your dog is in pain, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. With their help, your dog will feel better in no time.