How to Avoid Painful Canine Joint Problems

canine joint problems

(Photo credit: Clare Jackson/EyeEm/Getty)

There are multiple causes behind troublesome canine joint problems, which affect a dog’s bones and ligaments. Joint problems are painful for puppies and often expensive to treat, but there are courses of action humans can take to avoid costly canine orthopedic surgery. Not all joint problems in dogs can be prevented, but understanding how to keep your dog fit and active can postpone or alleviate the need for more serious interventions.

Typically, a dog exhibiting joint pain will fall into one of four categories:


Figgy, a healthy young mutt, charges a squirrel speeding through his backyard. A moment later, he is limping..

A leg injury that lasts more than a day or two should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Your vet can prescribe a safe anti-inflammatory for dogs (don’t give your dog aspirin!) and recommend rest. If R&R doesn’t help, you may be referred to a canine orthopedic surgeon.

Orthopedic surgery can cost several thousand dollars, but it may be your dog’s only option for a full recovery. Animal hospitals typically offer credit or billing plans, but pet insurance can give you real peace of mind (and save your bank account) when faced with a decision for surgery. Pet insurance must be purchased prior to an injury, but will pay only if your pet needs a knee repair.


Bailey, an aging Golden Retriever, has trouble jumping to her favorite spot on the couch and struggles upstairs..

Older dogs are prone to arthritis from years of wear and tear on their bones, just like humans. The age at which a dog is neutered or spayed can also affect his joints. According to veterinarian Dr. Jeff Grognet, early spaying (before six months) delays growth plate closure, which makes spayed dogs taller and lankier. This changes the angle of the knee and possibly predisposes a dog to future ligament damage. An older dog with arthritis may benefit from anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications, along with gentle exercise prescribed by your veterinarian.


Sofie, a German Shepherd, enjoys regular exercise and obedience work, but suddenly loses her back legs..

Some large or giant dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia. This genetic condition is aggravated by multiple factors. The American Kennel Association recommends speaking with a veterinarian to learn about treatment options (which may include medication, physical therapy, or surgery) and lifestyle changes. Before buying a purebred dog, ask to see the dog’s Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) report, as well as health records.


Oliver, a burly Basset Hound, lives for treats and weighs 20 pounds. over weight. He moves slowly and can only walk short distances..

Obesity aggravates canine joint problems. It’s the only condition that humans can 100 percent prevent their puppies from suffering from. It’s tempting to reward good behavior by giving dogs yummy treats, but an overweight dog is an unhealthy dog. If your pup is gaining weight, talk to your vet about the right diet, and make dog treats healthier by using fruits and vegetables!

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