Dog Joint Health: Pain, Osteoarthritis, and Other Joint Problems
WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about joint problems in dogs.
Q: As a researcher, what advancements do you see coming that will help
our dogs recover faster or heal more completely?
A: Rehab is really taking off, and there are a lot of studies under way to
determine the best protocols for different problems.
The food companies are doing a lot of research on potential additives that
can help with both inflammation and degradation or degeneration of joints.
On the surgical side, we’re seeing a lot more minimally invasive procedures,
such as the arthroscopic repairs and treatments and biological treatments,
meaning different types of injections or replacements of tissues. We can grow a
new joint replacement through tissue engineering now. Or we can take cartilage
grafts from healthy cartilage, either from the same dog or from an organ donor
Q: Should I limit my dog’s activity if he has joint problems?
A: I would limit it until you get a good diagnosis and a plan with your
veterinarian. If there’s a problem that causes instability, you can do a lot
more harm to the joints. But in the long run, we want to get activity back. So
we have to figure out if we need surgery to do that or if it can be done with
Q: What can I do to help prevent joint injuries in my dog?
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.