Canine Joint Swelling

Canine joint swelling is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the joint space. This condition may be caused by different conditions ranging from arthritis to injuries and may be controlled with pain medication and by treating the underlying problem.

Causes of Joint Swelling

When liquid accumulates in the joint space, the joints get swollen and painful. The joint swelling may have various causes such as:

  • Injuries to the joint
  • Joint disease or arthritis, typically due to aging
  • Genetic polyarthritis, present especially in certain dog breeds such as Greyhounds or Boxers
  • Infectious joint disease
  • Auto immune diseases such as lupus that cause fluid accumulation in the joints and organs
  • Blood coagulation problems
  • Bone tumors or osteosarcomas

Symptoms of Joint Swelling

The swollen joints will cause a lot of pain and will also disable the dog making incapable of performing certain movements. Other symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Limping or weird walking, which may point to the joint that is affected
  • Lameness
  • Visible injuries
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Reluctance to jump or perform certain moves such as standing up

Diagnosing Joint Swelling

The vet will perform a complete physical examination and history of the dog. In addition, other tests will be performed such as blood tests and x-rays of the joints that seem to be affected. Infectious disease titers may also be performed.

A bone biopsy will be performed if the vet suspects a bone tumor.

Treatment Options for Canine Joint Swelling

Joint swelling may be treated according to the underlying cause. If injuries are present, these should be treated and once these are healed, the joint problem should also disappear.

The dog may require pain medication, intravenous fluid administration or antibiotics such as tetracycline or doxyciline, administered orally or intravenously.

A constrictive bandage may also be recommended to protect the joint and promote healing.

Arthritis or polyarthritis are conditions that cannot be treated, but may be managed through medication. Pain relief is essential and the dog may also receive non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs or steroids. If the dog is overweight, a slimming diet will be recommended. You may also add padding to your furniture in the rooms where the dog spends more time to avoid injuries and additional pain.

Preventing Joint Swelling

Certain conditions such as arthritis, bone tumors or inherited polyarthritis cannot be prevented, but you may prevent joint injuries by keeping an eye on the dog’s activities. If you notice a wound, you should always clean the wound with an antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide, which will prevent infections and possible joint swelling. If foreign objects or debris are present, these should be removed.

If your dog has arthritis, you should restrict his physical activities and keep him in a warm room, applying compresses that will reduce the joint swelling.