Canine Hip Joint Pain Causes

Some dogs can be plagued by hip joint pain due to age, disease or hereditary. Arthritis and hip dysplasia are two of the major diseases related to hip joint pain. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and the accompanying pain, affecting any breed, size, gender and age of dogs. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition affecting the actual growth, formation and development of the hip joint and is prevalent in certain breeds. 

Diseases Can Cause Hip Joint Pain

Arthritis is the leading cause of hip joint pain, especially in older dogs.

Some of the more common symptoms are:

  • Limping
  • Joint tenderness
  • Swelling around the joint area
  • Inflammation
  • Difficulty sitting, standing, lying down, getting up, squatting, climbing or jumping
  • Slow movements
  • Reluctance to walk, run, play or move up and down stairs
  • Stiffness
  • Change in pace or gait
  • Heat in affected area
  • Pain in and around joints

Hip dysplasia is prevalent in certain breeds, meaning that it is a hereditary condition. The disease affects the growth and formation of the hip joint during the gestation period and then affects the development of the hip after birth.

Hip Pain Can Develop with Age

As a dog ages, the cells do not replace themselves as quickly or in the same quality as they had in the dog’s youth. There is wear and tear on all the tissues, muscles, bones, cells, joints and cartilage. When the cartilage in the hip joints wear down, bone touches bone within the joint and grind against one another causing pain.

Treatment for Canine Hip Problems

There are several medications that can be used to minimize the hip joint pain, including glucosamine and chondroitin. Both of these enzymes are naturally produced by the body since they are extremely important in forming and maintaining ligaments, nails, tendons and cartilage. Chondroitin blocks the cartilage destroying enzymes and glucosamine helps produce cartilage. However, as the body ages or is disease is present, the body cannot produce enough glucosamine. These medications can be supplemented with NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) to help reduce inflammation; however, use of any NSAIDs must be monitored for any adverse reactions.

NSAIDs suppresses the chemical cyclooxygenase in the body that causes pain and joint inflammation. One of the most common NSAIDs used is aspirin. Common side effects for NSAIDs use include lethargy, depression, appetite loss, diarrhea, changes in stools, jaundice, itchy skin, changes in urinary habits and vomiting. Common risks include kidney damage, liver problems, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and digestive tract perforations. NSAIDs are prescribed by a veterinarian and frequently monitored for any potential damage.

If NSAIDs do not work, then a veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone or prednisone. Their use has some serious risks, such as kidney damage or failure, skin damage, or gastric ulcers, especially if used for a long period of time. They dramatically reduce pain and joint inflammation, improve damaged cartilage and slow bone density loss.

Hip joint pain is manageable with various medications prescribed by a veterinarian. Monitoring the use of such drugs is important to prevent any further damage.