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Signs and symptoms of joint discomfort in dogs

As the Pack Leader you must know if your dog is uncomfortable because of joint issues. Typical signs include:

  • Trouble getting up and down
  • Slow or stiff when moving
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Joint swelling
  • Excessive panting
  • Limping
  • Frequently holding a leg off the ground
  • Favoring one leg

Common causes of hip and joint discomfort in dogs:

Hip dysplasia in dogs

In hip dysplasia the hip socket has not formed properly and this results in damage and arthritis from the poor fit. This condition is most often seen in breeds such as the Labrador retriever, German shepherd, golden retriever, and Newfoundland, but other breeds can be affected. Veterinarians diagnose this condition by taking radiographs of the hips. If a dog has hip dysplasia, the earlier it is diagnosed the more options are available.

  • Surgical options: triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO); pubic symphodesis; femoral head ostectomy (FHO); and hip replacement.
  • Medical options: Weight control is critical. Any excess weight will only aggravate the condition. If surgery is not an option in addition to losing any excess weight, medications and supplements are used to control the dog’s discomfort.

Osteoarthritis in dogs

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that is more commonly seen in older pets from years of wear and tear on the joints. This condition can affect any joint in the body such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, and back.

  • Surgical options: Hip replacement is commonly done and other joint replacement procedures will likely be more available in the future.
  • Medical options: Are aimed at treating the discomfort and inflammation as well as protecting the cartilage in the joints. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is crucial. Exercise is also beneficial to keep the muscles active and strong.

Common medications and therapies for osteoarthritis in dogs.

  • Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are used for their anti-inflammatory effects. The best supplements help to nourish and repair the cartilage in joints. 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Your vet may need to prescribe one of the many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, but a serum chemistry is recommended before starting these medications to detect any underlying conditions that may be made worse by these drugs. So, discuss the best route of treatment with your vet.
  • Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These can have numerous side effects, as with starting a non-steroidal. Blood work prior to use is recommended.
  • Therapy laser. Uses specific wavelengths of light that reduce discomfort and inflammation and accelerate wound healing. These can be expensive.
  • Narcotics. These drugs may be needed if having trouble controlling the discomfort with other medications.

There are numerous conditions affecting the bones and joints in dogs. Make sure to discuss with your veterinarian whether your dog needs a supplement, if she needs to lose weight, and what exercises are best. There are many treatments, medications, and supplements on the market that your veterinarian can prescribe to help your dog.

Does your pooch have joint problems? How have you been treating her?

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