11 Ways to Deal With Joint Pain in Your Dog

Joint pain in dogs is rather common, with arthritis being the main source of such pain and discomfort. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 20% of all dogs will develop arthritis at some point in their lives, prompting the need for some form of treatment protocol to manage their pain.

Of course, there are other reasons why your dog’s joints might be experiencing pain, such an injury or hip dysplasia. But regardless of why your dog is experiencing discomfort, it’s up to you as the owner to take measures to make sure your dog is as comfortable as possible.

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help manage your dog’s joint pain. Let’s dig a little deeper into what these are.

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Joint pain in dogs is uncomfortable, but there are a number of different remedies that you can employ that can help your dog live a more fulfilling, pain-free life.


How Can You Tell if Your Dog is in Pain?

If your dog is feeling pain or discomfort at the joints, you may notice any one of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Problems standing, sitting, or lying down
  • Difficulty when getting up
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Hesitance to run or jump
  • Decreased level of activity
  • Less interest performing regular activities
  • Limping
  • Holding a limb off the ground
  • Swelling or stiffness at the joint

If you notice any one of these symptoms, be sure to have your pooch checked out at the vet.

1. Weight Management

If your dog is suffering from joint pain for whatever reason – whether it’s an injury or chronic disease like arthritis – one of the first things that your vet will tell you is to make sure to keep your dog’s weight in check. Every extra pound that your pet packs on will add more stress to the joints, thereby causing more pain and discomfort.

As such, it’s important to make sure that your dog’s weight stays in check in order to minimize any added weight and pressure to the joints. It can also help avoid any further damage to the joints and decrease inflammation as a result of excess body fat.

2. Strengthening

Adding more muscle mass to surround the affected joints can protect the joints and reduce the pain experienced. In this case, exercise is essential and extremely effective.

Depending on the severity of your dog’s pain and her mobility, the type of exercise that you engage your dog in will vary. If regular exercise at home – such as walking, climbing stairs, or even swimming – is too much for your pet, consider getting your dog into a physical therapy treatment protocol, which we’ll get into next.

3. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy for dogs is not that much different than that for humans. Canine physical therapy makes use of things such as :

  • Cold and heat compresses
  • Stretching
  • Manipulation exercises to increase range of motion
  • Massage

Such measures will help to improve joint health, gain muscle strength and mass, and decrease discomfort.

4. Acupuncture

It may sound strange to provide your dog with acupuncture, but it may actually be effective. Not necessarily just for humans, acupuncture has been shown to be helpful in dogs suffering from arthritis and other sources of joint pain. This type of treatment involves inserting very fine needles into certain areas on the body to produce a healing response.

5. Healthy Diet

Not only will a healthy diet help to keep your dog’s weight in check – which we’ve already determined is essential for minimizing pain at the joints – it will also supply your dog with the necessary nutrients needed for optimal joint health. And healthier ligaments, tendons, and cartilage at the joints will help to reduce pain and discomfort as a result of inflammation and damage at the joints.

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Dogs suffering from joint pain may show signs such as being disinterested in regular activity, difficulty getting up stairs and standing up, or stiffness at the joint.

6. Nutritional Supplements

While a healthy diet is certainly important for ensuring that your dog gets all the nutrients needed to maintain optimal joint health and reduce pain, it can be difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals needed from diet alone. To fill any dietary voids and give your dog certain nutrients to boost joint health, there are supplements that can be administered in addition to the food you feed your furry friend.

For instance, giving your dog fish oil supplements can help decrease inflammation, and glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been shown to help regenerate the joints, thereby helping to reduce pain. Glucosamine helps to produce glycosaminoglycan in your dog, which is used to develop and repair body tissues that are crucial for the joints, like cartilage. Glucosamine has also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which helps reduce pain.

7. Pain Medication

There may be times when your dog is in too much pain to be comfortable and be able to rest properly. In these cases, there are pain killers available specifically for dogs to help manage their pain, regardless of the source. NSAIDs, in particular, are especially effective for joint pain in dogs.

These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – such as Previcox, Carprofen, and Etodolac – as well as glucocorticoids can alleviate joint pain and inflammation in your dog. If the pain is still unbearable and NSAIDs don’t seem to be effective, there are also other types of analgesics that can be used as well. Your vet will prescribe the right medication for your dog based on her symptoms.

8. Keep Your Dog Dry and Warm

Damp, cold conditions are usually more conducive to aggravated joint pain. But the opposite is true when you keep your dog warm and dry. Get your dog a padded bed and apply warm compresses to the joints when necessary.

9. Modify the Home Environment

You can make life easier for your dog if she is unable to do certain things as a result of joint pain. Some things you can do at home include:

  • Lay carpeting down to soften the floor
  • Secure area rugs to give your dog more traction when walking
  • Offer a soft bed to soothe aching joints
  • Provide ramps to help your dog more easily get in and out of the car or bed
  • Keep all of your dog’s things on one level of the home so there’s no need to go up a flight of stairs

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Always keep your eye on any changes in your dog’s behavior in order to pinpoint when she may be in discomfort, as this may be a sign that she’s in pain and needs some medical attention to address the issue.

10. Go For Regular Vet Checkups

Take your pooch in for regular check-ups at your vet so your dog’s condition can be closely and regularly monitored appropriately. If any changes are noticed, adjustments to your pet’s treatment protocol can be made in a timely fashion to ensure the most comfort and least amount of pain.

11. Consider Surgery

Surgery is the absolute last resort after all other measures have been exhausted. If you’ve tried everything and your dog still seems extremely uncomfortable and in constant pain, surgery may be an option. Just remember that surgical procedures come with a chance of complications, such as:

  • Infection
  • Further damage to the joint
  • Ineffective results

Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of surgery, as well as the surgical procedures that may be useful, before making your decision about taking this route.

Final Thoughts

Joint pain is no fun for your dog, but luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help keep your beloved pet as comfortable as possible.

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