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Pain, pain, go away: arthritis robs active dogs of mobility

photo of a Golden Retriever playing in the park with a stickOne of the most common conditions affecting older dogs is arthritis or degenerative joint disease. As in humans, arthritis can be very painful for your dog. It can also rob your pet’s mobility and active lifestyle.

Generally, arthritis happens when an unstable joint causes the bones to move unnaturally within the joint. As a general rule, cartilage acts as a barrier between bones by lining the joints. However, over time the abnormal movements cause the cartilage and bone to rub against the bone. In turn, the rubbing creates chronic inflammation and pain.

What Causes Joint Problems in Dogs?

According to WebMD, the two main kinds of joint problems in dogs are degenerative and developmental issues. Degenerative problems are comprised of a wide array of issues like cruciate ligament problems and secondary osteoarthritis. Developmental problems include elbow or hip dysplasia where the joint does not develop properly.

Conferring to PetMD, there is no known cause for primary degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis.

On the other hand, there are numerous causes for secondary DJD like abnormal wear on the joints, trauma or congenital defect at birth like an improper shaped hip (hip dysplasia). Other causes include abnormal development of cartilage and bone, dislocation of the shoulder or kneecap and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).

Signs of Arthritis

In general, the most common sign of arthritis is that your dog does less physical activity or has difficulty doing common activities. Sometimes even getting up on a chair or going up the stairs is very difficult. With more active dogs, the physical activity is quite reduced such as not wanting to play as long as normal or not being able to run as far as their normal distance.
After the initial warning signs, a dog’s condition generally gets worse. Because of the increasing pain, your dog may hold their limb up or hold it awkwardly. As a rule, dogs generally do not show their pain in the beginning of the stages. The pain is typically a slower process.

Breeds Prone to Joint Injury

Rendering to WebMD, there are certain breeds more prone to joint injury. For the most part, it is the larger dogs that are more susceptible to cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injuries such as Newfoundland’s, Rottweiler’s, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and German shepherds. In addition, dogs that are obese and only get occasional exercise are more apt to develop CCL injuries. Certain breeds also have genetic conditions:

  • Rottweilers have more ankle and knee issues
  • Bernese Mountain dogs often get elbow dysplasia
  • Newfoundlands have the highest occurrence of cruciate ligament disease of all breeds


The good news is that there are several steps you can take to prevent arthritis from developing in your dog. One of the best preventative methods is to keep your dog at a healthy weight so that the joints are not so stressed. As well, there are certain diets designed specifically for animals that have arthritis. Some of the recommendations include pet foods high in Omega 3 and 6. However, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian before you place your dog on a certain diet. As well, if you suspect that your dog has arthritis, it is highly recommended that you get a diagnosis from a specialist as soon as possible.

Whitworth Animal Clinic

At Whitworth Animal Clinic, Charles Whitworth, DVM offers premium care for your dog. Dr. Whitworth is renowned for his exceptional care, having over thirty years as a veterinarian in Madison. Moreover, Charles Whitworth, DVM is very passionate about his work and has loved animals and the veterinarian life since he was in the third grade.

If you suspect that your pet has arthritis or your pet is in pain, contact Whitworth Animal Clinic is as soon as possible. The clinic is conveniently located in Madison and serves the surrounding areas including north Alabama and the communities of Madison like Decatur and Huntsville.

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