white and brown dog laying on a rug

How to Know When Your Dog Has Joint Pain and What to do About it

Though more commonly seen in dogs in their senior years, joint pain is a condition that can affect dogs of all ages. Many people with dogs believe that if their dog is not yelping, then they’re not in pain. Others interpret their dog’s slowing down as a consequence of aging. In both instances, the dogs could be suffering from joint pain.

Knowing the signs of a dog’s joint pain in the back legs can help address the condition before it leads to more serious pain or conditions later on in their life. If you recognize symptoms of joint pain, make sure you contact your veterinarian to discuss the most effective treatment options for your dog. We’ve outlined the common signs of joint pain to look out for—especially joint pain in your dog’s back legs—and the easy changes you can make for relief. 

Signs of a Dog’s Joint Pain

Overall Slowing Down or Limping

One of the most common indicators of a dog’s joint pain is the overall slowing down. Rather than being a sign of aging, being slow to move or limping when walking could be a sign that they are in pain or experiencing discomfort. 

Slow to Get Up

Much like the overall slowing down, being slow to get up could indicate joint pain in your dog’s back legs. Pain and discomfort slow their movement when getting up to eat, play, or move around.

Lethargy/Sleeping More

Lethargy or sleeping more during the day should not be mistaken as a natural part of a dog’s aging process. Instead, behavioral changes, like lethargy, are a sign that they’re experiencing pain and do not have the capacity to move around and be as active as they once were.

Reluctance to Go on Walks or Play

Did your dog stop grabbing their own leash for their daily walk before you had the chance to? Being reluctant on walks or wanting to walk less is another subtle indicator of a dog’s joint pain. Changes in physical movements or abilities are common indicators, though they can be difficult to spot. 

Depression or Irritability

Not all signs of joint pain are physical. If your dog seems more irritable or appears to be depressed, it could be an indicator of experiencing joint pain.

Loss of Appetite

Dogs do not want to eat if they’re in pain. Out-of-character behavior, such as a decreased appetite, is a common sign of a dog’s joint pain. 

Avoidance of Stairs or Jumping

Maybe your dog is slow going up a set of stairs or avoiding them altogether. Maybe they’re avoiding jumping up and taking your spot on the bed or couch like usual, or “bunny-hopping” when they try. Avoidance or difficulty with these physical tasks is an early sign that they’re experiencing joint pain. With joint pain in your dog’s back legs, they’ll refrain from climbing and jumping because these once-easy tasks are now challenging to accomplish.

Excessive Licking, Biting, or Chewing the Affected Area

When a dog’s joints are bothering them, especially joint pain in their back legs, they could lick, bite, or chew the affected area. This behavior could signal their discomfort and act as a way to self-soothe.

Easy Changes for Joint Pain Relief

 two brown dogs running on a dirt path

Treatments to relieve your dog’s joint pain vary depending on your dog’s level of pain and the root cause of the joint pain. However, no dog has to deal with pain and discomfort in their joints. We’ve summarized some easy changes that you can make to your dog’s at-home and on-the-go routines to help ease joint pain and discomfort. 

Weight Management

If your dog is suffering from joint pain, one of the first things to do is ensure that they’re at a healthy weight. Obesity is a common problem in dogs and puts excessive pressure on a dog’s joints. Being at a healthy weight can significantly reduce the symptoms of joint pain in your dog’s back legs and make life more comfortable for your dog. Check in with your veterinarian to determine if your dog needs to lose weight or if their weight is impacting joint pain. If necessary, they can help you develop a weight loss plan, such as making dietary or physical changes.

Diet Changes

Proper nutrition is necessary for preventing and reducing joint issues. Overconsumption of heavily processed foods can adversely impact your dog’s joints. Dietary changes, such as including omega-3 fatty acids and limiting grains in their food, can help provide joint support for your dog. There are also supplements for your dog’s joint pain that can be used as an alternative to prescription medication. Talk to your vet about the safest, most beneficial supplements and dietary changes for your dog.

CBD for Pain Relief

There are a myriad of pain relief options and medications for joint pain. However, you may want to take a natural approach. CBD for pets is a more natural, holistic alternative to different medications on the market for dog joint pain. A high-quality CBD product introduced alone or via intake of food can be included as part of a relief plan for mobility issues. 

Get a Ramp/Stairs

If your dog has been experiencing mobility issues due to joint pain, getting dog stairs or a ramp could make movement easier. Using a ramp or stairs (if stairs are manageable for your dog) can prevent them from struggling to get into bed or onto the couch. Having a form of assistance for your furry friend will prevent their need to jump and climb, which puts excess stress on their joints.

Learning the Signs

A dog’s joint pain is an extremely common condition that can occur in dogs at any stage of their life. Educating yourself on the identification of the common signs of joint issues is one of the best steps to handling the condition for an improved quality of life in your dog. If you notice any physical or behavioral signs of joint pain in your dog’s back legs or other areas, make sure that you check in with your dog’s veterinarian for a diagnosis and to discuss possible treatment options. 

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