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Dog Joint Health: Pain, Osteoarthritis, and Other Joint Problems

WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about joint problems in dogs.


A: If you’re buying a puppy, especially if you’re buying a purebred puppy, check out the health problems in that breed, and check out that specific dog’s lineage. Most of these things have some hereditary component. A good breeder will have all that information. Many will volunteer it. But you certainly have the right to ask. And you should ask, especially if you’re interested in one of the larger breeds that are already associated with joint problems.

And if you don’t care about breed, buy a mutt. With a mutt, you’re going to have the best chance of not having those kinds of joint problems. The genetic diversity really seems to limit orthopedic problems overall.

The next step is keeping your dog at the right weight and in good body condition throughout its life. Good food, exercise, and keeping them lean and in good condition are key with any dog.

Have your veterinarian evaluate your dog’s joints at least every year to see what’s going on. A lot of these things we can prevent from becoming a big problem if we catch it early enough. We can work on strengthening the body and avoid surgery altogether.


Q: Are there any vitamins or additives I can give my dog to help with joint problems?

A: Yes. But you really want to consult with your veterinarian so you’re sure you’re spending your money on the right things. Studies have shown that some of the additives, like glucosamine/chondroitin, help when there’s arthritis present. It’s not a preventative; it’s not going to cure the joint. But it’s a good supplement when used with other parts of the non-surgical management or the post-operative management. It can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.

Then there are things like fish oils, which actually are anti-inflammatory and generally have fewer side effects than medications. But only use those additives that have some science, some evidence behind them, showing that they work.

Reviewed on July 06, 2009
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