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Joint Discomfort In Dogs: The Signs Every Dog Owner Should Know

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One in five adult dogs suffers from joint discomfort in the United States. 

The most prevalent joint disorder in dogs, destroys bone cartilage near the joints. They cause the joints to lose their protective cushioning, which leads to decreased mobility.

No matter how old Fido is, pet owners need to be on the lookout for signs of dog joint discomfort. Recognizing joint issues in dogs is crucial if you want to prevent your pooch from suffering in silence. 

Let’s review the signs of joint problems in dogs and how to help mitigate them in your doggo.

Dog Joint Discomfort Symptoms

Canine joint issue symptoms are not always obvious, making them easy to overlook. Your pooch may get tired easily or seem a little stiff from time-to-time. But many pet owners overlook these subtle signs of joint discomfort which commonly affects the:

  • Hips 
  • Elbows
  • Lower back
  • Knees
  • Wrists

Signs your dog is suffering from joint issues include:

  • Stiffness or lameness
  • Limping after sitting or laying down
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Being reluctant to walk, run, play, or climb stairs
  • Urinating in the house
  • Unprovoked irritability and aggression towards other people or dogs
  • Loss of stamina
  • Whimpering or growling when certain areas are touched

Dogs can exhibit joint issue symptoms when they are one year and older, although 80% of extreme joint issues cases occur in dogs over eight and large dog breeds like Labrador retrievers and German shepherds are more prone to them.

Identifying Joint Issues in Dogs

If you suspect your pooch has joint stiffness, visit your veterinarian. The vet will conduct a physical examination to determine if an underlying health concern is causing Fido’s discomfort. 

If nothing is found, the vet will perform palpation. The vet uses his or her fingers to feel the joints and find the inflammation. The palpation can also determine the severity of the joint issue. Some veterinarians may use imaging technology, like an x-ray, to get a more in-depth look at what is going on with your dog’s joints. 

Once the veterinarian has confirmed a joint issue in your dog, they will work with you to devise a suitable treatment plan based on your dog’s age, breed, and severity of the joint discomfort.

Medical Treatments for Joint Discomfort in Dogs

Similar to humans, joint discomfort in dogs does not have a cure. Medical treatments aim to manage joint discomfort, support mobility, boost cartilage repair, and address joint degeneration.


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) help with joint discomfort. These medications include Aspirin and Rimadyl. Before prescribing NSAIDs to dogs, a vet will run a blood test to make sure the dog’s liver and kidneys can handle the medications.

Chondroprotective Drugs

Chondroprotective drugs are drugs that stimulate cartilage repair. They inhibit enzymes that attack and destroy cartilage around the joints. Researchers have found chondroprotective drugs can help with joint issues in dogs.


Severe cases of dog joint discomfort may call for surgery. The procedures aim to repair joint mobility while reducing discomfort. 

Arthroscopic surgery is one of the most popular operations for dog joint discomfort. It involves making small incisions near the joints. The surgeon cleans cartilage debris from the joint, making it easier for the dog to move.

When joint issues go ignored or untreated too long, a dog may require bone deformity surgery. A surgeon fuses or rebuilds part of the joint to restore balance, mobility, and function.

Natural Remedies for Dog Joint Discomfort

Catching joint issues early is critical. Not only does this mean less suffering for Fido, but it also increases the effectiveness of natural treatments. Home remedies for joint problems in dogs include controlling your dog’s weight and adding healthy supplements to Fido’s doggy diet.

Weight Control and Exercise

Obesity increases doggo’s risk of having joint issues. The added pounds put extra pressure on the joints. Maintaining a healthy weight can ease joint issue symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

Start by feeding your dog a nutritious diet. Set a limit on the number of treats he gets per day. Cut treats in half so you can reward your pooch without overfeeding him.

Next, stop sneaking Fido dinner scraps. Half of all pet owners admit to giving their pet food when they beg for it, and 22% confess to overfeeding their pooches to keep them happy. Research how much food your dog needs based on its size, breed, and age. Portion control is key in keeping your pup at a healthy weight.

Lastly, exercise with your dog. All dogs need a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise twice per day. However, larger and more energetic breeds require more. Increase your daily walks by ten minutes or incorporate a third round of physical activity into your dog’s routine. Not only is exercise great for controlling weight, but keeping the joints active helps promote mobility in the long-term.

Owner exercising with her dog outside

Joint Diet and Supplements

Discomfort management for dogs starts in the food bowl. Certain ingredients support healthy and normal inflammatory pathways. If your dog is suffering, try adding these ingredients to his diet:

  • Ginger
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Blueberries
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Alfalfa

These foods can be mixed into regular dog food or blended into a paste for your dog to lick from your finger.

Certain supplements also provide natural help for dogs. Glucosamine supplements aid in cartilage development, tissue support, and joint fluid viscosity. Hemp oil products provide synovial and cartilage fluid support to enhance bone and joint health and help manage stiffness. Many pet supplements are available as oils or tasty chews that your dog won’t mind eating.

The Joint Help Fido Needs

Joint discomfort in dogs cannot be cured. But with the right products, you can implement healthy lifestyle changes to help with joint discomfort  and allow Fido to move with ease.