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How to Tell If Your Dog Has Joint Pain: Signs to Look Out For



Joint pain is a common problem for dogs, especially as they age. It can make it difficult for them to move around and enjoy their daily activities. Unfortunately, dogs can't tell us when they're in pain, so it's up to us as their people to look out for signs that something might be wrong. In this blog post, we'll outline some of the key signs of joint pain in dogs to help you identify if your furry friend is experiencing discomfort.

Changes in Behaviour


Dogs with joint pain may exhibit the following changes in behaviour:

  • Becoming less active or energetic: If your dog suddenly loses interest in playing or going on walks, it may be a sign of joint pain. Dogs with joint pain may become less active because they are in discomfort or pain, and they may be reluctant to move around.

  • Reluctance to go on walks or play with toys: Dogs with joint pain may avoid activities that involve jumping or running because it puts pressure on their joints. They may be hesitant to go on walks or play with toys, even ones they used to enjoy.

  • Difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying down position: If your dog has difficulty getting up from a lying down or sitting position, it may be a sign of joint pain. This could be due to stiffness in the joints or discomfort when putting weight on the affected limb.


Changes in Movement


Dogs with joint pain may exhibit the following changes in movement:

  • Limping or favouring one leg over the other: Dogs with joint pain may limp or favour one leg over the other. This could be a sign of pain in the affected limb or joint. They may also hold the limb up or avoid putting weight on it altogether.

  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping onto furniture: If your dog is hesitant to climb stairs or jump onto furniture, it could be a sign of joint pain. These activities can be difficult for dogs with joint pain because they require a lot of effort and put pressure on the joints.

  • Stiff gait or moving more slowly than usual: Dogs with joint pain may move more slowly than usual or have a stiff gait. This could be due to stiffness in the joints or discomfort when moving.


Changes in Appearance


Dogs with joint pain may exhibit the following changes in appearance:

  • Swelling or redness around the affected joint: If your dog has swelling or redness around a joint, it could be a sign of joint pain. This could indicate inflammation or a joint injury.

  • Licking or biting at the joint: Dogs with joint pain may lick or bite at the affected joint. This could be a sign of discomfort or pain in the joint.

  • Muscle atrophy (wasting) in the affected limb: If your dog has joint pain, they may use the affected limb less often. Over time, this can lead to muscle atrophy, or wasting, in the limb.


Other Signs


Dogs with joint pain may exhibit the following additional signs:

  • Yelping or whining when touched or picked up: Dogs with joint pain may be more sensitive to touch. If your dog yelps or whines when you touch or pick them up, it could be a sign of joint pain.

  • Difficulty sleeping or seeming restless at night: Dogs with joint pain may have difficulty sleeping or seem restless at night. This could be due to discomfort or pain.

  • Being more irritable or grouchy than usual: Dogs with joint pain may be more irritable or grouchy than usual.


If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it's important to take them to the vet for an evaluation. Joint pain can be a serious problem for dogs and can lead to other health issues if left untreated. Your vet can help diagnose the problem and recommend treatment options to help manage your dog's joint pain. These options may include pain medication, joint supplements, weight management, and physical therapy. By being aware of these signs, you can help ensure that your furry friend stays happy and healthy for years to come. Remember, early detection and treatment can make a big difference in your dog's quality of life!


Are you a dog professional? Why not consider professional membership of the National Institute for Canine Ethics?



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