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How to Diagnose & Treat Joint Pain in Dogs

Just the thought our dogs suffering silently from hidden pain breaks the heart of any dog parent. Sadly, research shows that 4 out of 5 dogs over the age of 8 are suffering from some kind of joint pain.

And while we humans have the ability to reach for pain meds and talk to our doctor about symptoms, our precious pups do not. In fact, dogs are quite good at keeping their joint pain a secret.

Why do dogs hide signs of pain? As pack animals, not showing their suffering has clear survival benefits. The ancestors of modern dogs would commonly leave behind a member of the pack who was in pain and slowing down the group as a whole. As a result, dogs have learned to hide their pain very well.

Fortunately, there are some subtle signs we can look out for:

Top 6 Signs of Canine Joint Pain

Weight Gain: Obesity is often an indirect sign of joint pain, as dogs become less active due to the pain.

Difficulty in getting up to greet you: This is one of the most often cited signals. If your dog usually jumps up to greet you or visitors when they first walk in the door, but suddenly stops this behavior, there may be something wrong.

Limping: Often arthritic dogs experience limping right after getting up from lying down. The limp may not last for long, and might only occur a few moments after getting up.

Decreased energy: If your dogs overall energy has taken a turn for the worse, they may be feeling the pains of inflamed joints.

Irritability: If your dog has become irritable for no apparent reason, they may be suffering from a hidden pain of some kind.

Increased licking, biting, or chewing: Pay attention to where your dog is licking or grooming themselves. Excessive or unusual attention in one area of the body might be a result of joint pain.

If you have not yet noticed any signs of joint pain, you’re very lucky, as most dogs will be affected by the condition at some point in their lives. The best time to take action is before symptoms are present.

Sadly, most dogs will be affected at one time or another by joint pain. There are many factors influencing when or how bad the symptoms might be.

In general, the larger the breed of dog, the more likely they are to suffer from joint pain, and the earlier you need to start preventative measures.

Ways to Help Joint Pain in Dogs

Maintain a healthy weight: Make sure you know the healthy weight of your dog. All those treats and table scraps can add up to a lot of calories!

Consistent exercise: Different breeds need different levels of exercise. Low impact, consistent walks are good for both your dog and yourself. Swimming is a great option for dogs with severe mobility issues.

Massages: For dogs already suffering from joint issues, a massage can go along way to help relieve tension and increase flexibility. Just make sure you pay attention your dog’s responses and notice which areas might be sensitive to the touch.

Comfortable bedding: Do not skimp on your dog’s bed! Make sure they have adequate padding for their weight, and replace when worn out. Better yet, let them sleep with you!

Supplementation: Many veterinarians recommend supplementing with a high quality glucosamine, MSM, and Chondroitin supplement. In recent years, turmeric has also become a popular ingredient for joint support. The larger the breed of dog you have, the earlier you should consider supplementation. The following breeds in particular are prone to more severe joint problems. Many veterinarians recommend supplementation for these breeds as early as three years old.

Breeds Prone to Joint Pain/Arthritis:

  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs
  • Great Danes
  • Dachshunds
  • Newfoundlands
  • St Bernards

Hydrotherapy for Joint Pain in Dogs

Along with hydrotherapy, a pool is typically set at a temperature between 85-90 degrees. This temperature is safe for dogs and gives their muscles lubrication, allowing their joints and muscles to relax and decrease swelling. While providing oxygen to their cells, the warm water also builds muscle mass the fastest and safest way possible, strengthening the affected areas in their joints from arthritis. Dogs can start to lose their muscle mass within 3 DAYS of being immobile! It is vital that you keep your dog active despite his/her’s arthritis, which makes hydrotherapy your best and smartest option for them.

Warm water is overall healing and therapeutic for dogs suffering from painful arthritis. Being in the pool will increase their circulation and hydration levels, causing needed blood and oxygen to flow to affected areas decreasing the pain and stiffness, while simultaneously flushing fluid and toxins away. It is important to keep in mind that hydrotherapy is not simply letting your dog swim in a pool, lake or ocean, and the owner should never attempt to perform therapy on their dog without consulting a professional. A hydrotherapist is educated to locate areas of concern on your dog and will work with them to target specific needs while keeping them safe/supported.

Other things to take into consideration when wanting to swim your dog yourself are skin conditions, ear infections, UTI’s, open wounds, water intake and fatigue. A certified hydrotherapist is trained to monitor and recognize various signs and symptoms of your dog in the water, so for an owner to try and engage in their own “therapy” is highly discouraged and can be detrimental to a dog’s health. Dogs should never be unattended in any water activity and it is not safe to assume that your dog knows how to swim. It is actually NOT instinctual for a dog to know how to swim and you can put your dog at risk of drowning if they are not supervised and handled properly.

About Dip’ n Dogs Hydrotherapy – Orlando, FL

At Dip’n Dogs Hydrotherapy, we are certified and caring professionals devoted to restoring and enhancing the health and happiness of your beloved pup. Encompassing a pool, as well as a certified hydrotherapist, this can provide effective and long lasting results for your pet’s injury or illness. We are conveniently located in Winter Park, FL. Contact us today at (407) 227-0030. Our Services include the following: Outdoor Hydrotherapy and In-Home Mobile Therapy for dogs. We look forward to hearing from you!


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