Chronic Joint Pain in Dogs

Chronic joint pain in dogs is often a debilitating condition that can cause a great deal of discomfort. The key to improving the quality of life in a dog that suffers from chronic joint pain is to be informed about the condition and to be aware of which treatment methods can be the most beneficial.

Chronic Joint Pain Explained

The first step to understanding your dog's condition is to understand the difference between acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain is typically sharp, intense and immediate, and has a relatively short period of duration. Chronic pain, in contrast, can be mild, moderate or severe, but the key difference is that it lasts for longer than six months, even after the original injury has healed. Chronic joint pain in dogs follows this methodology in that it is a condition that can cause long-lasting pain even after treatment has been implemented.

Causes of Chronic Joint Pain

The causes of chronic joint pain in dogs are numerous. Aging is typically the number one factor. As the bone and tissue structures of the dog's body begin to age, these structures become lax in their composition and normal functions become more difficult. Some of the other causes of chronic joint pain in dogs include:

  • Congenital joint defects
  • Traumatic injury
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Immune-related health conditions

Signs and Symptoms

It is important that dog owners be aware of the signs of chronic joint pain so that prompt medical treatment can be sought. Although it's not a life-threatening condition, it often affects a dog's quality of life both mentally and physically. Some of the signs to look for include:

  • Total or partial lameness
  • Difficulty walking, running or exercising
  • Urinating or defecating inside the home
  • Crying or yelping while walking or moving
  • Stiffness or limping
  • Tender to petting around joint areas
  • Noticeable swelling of joint areas

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step to correcting chronic joint pain is to have it diagnosed. Because joint pain is only a symptom of the underlying problem, X-ray imaging of the joints often shows dislocation, abnormal structure or age-related degeneration, and the diagnosis is easily made.

Once chronic joint pain has been confirmed, the goal is to help the dog live comfortably so that he can return to his normal activities. In order to do this, the true cause of joint pain must be identified. In most cases, the best solution will be a combination of the following:

  • Corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory)
  • Glucosamine Chondroitin (assists in building and strengthening cartilage)
  • Diet Control
  • Daily exercise

While some methods of treatment may be more successful in some dogs versus others, all of the above treatment methods are common in controlling chronic joint pain.