What Causes Joint Problems in Pets

What Causes Joint Problems in Pets

There is no doubt that we love our furry friends. Sometimes they just need a little extra TLC. Things like genetics, age, and if they have been spayed or neutered can play significant factors in their joint health.

The difference between developmental and degenerative joint problems:

Developmental joint problems are where there is improper development of the joint or ligament. These defects will cause the joint not to function correctly. Usually, this refers to genetic conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia.

Degenerative joint problems are the second category. Like arthritis, these issues are commonly paired with pain from wear and tear on the joints. A racing dog or working police dog who utilizes its body at a higher caliber may experience degenerative joint problems early in life.

Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage breaks down due to various factors like age, injury, or repetitive use. This disease can gradually develop over months or even years, and the symptoms are not always so easy to notice. The most prevalent symptoms are stiffness, commonly after resting or first thing in the morning. Joints may even be warm to the touch or swollen.

Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Dogs of any age can develop osteoarthritis. However, some factors can predispose your dog to this condition.

  • Larger breeds
  • Obesity
  • Age, particularly middle-age to senior dogs
  • Repetitive stress from athletic activities
  • Injuries such as fractures or ligament tears
  • Improper nutrition
  • Poor conformation
  • Genetics
  • Spaying or Neutering

Immune-mediated Polyarthritis In Dogs

Immune-mediated Polyarthritis or IMPA refers to multiple inflamed, swollen, and painful joints. An owner will notice these problems usually when a pet begins to limp or favors one leg over the others. A joint will sometimes also radiate heat.

IMPA can be caused by an infection from anywhere in the body, and the condition is usually short-term. Meaning that once the infection clears up, the joints of the pet will generally improve as well. This condition may also be an autoimmune response by the body against its own joints. This problem is common but can be a much worse situation for your dog.

The Connection Between Leaky Gut And Joint Pain In Dogs

It's nothing new that low-grade chronic inflammation can be the root cause of many abnormal functions as well as a cause of cancer. Several things can cause inflammatory conditions. Most of these situations involve weak gut linings or those that have holes.

Leaky Gut happens because artificial, indigestible food and toxins tear holes in the lining of the stomach. Once the damage is done, the toxins are then able to get into the bloodstream. The immune system will then react and defend the body against the toxins, and that can cause inflammation to spread across the body.

Low-quality food has now become an epidemic for animals as well as people. Even the toxins in the air and water play a role in our pets' overall health. These types of problems can affect other parts of the body and system as well. Genetics and lifestyles can also play a role in overall health as well as gut health.

While bagged kibble and canned food have become staples in our pets' diets, those foods have been exposed to overprocessing. That can break down the delicate fats in the food that your pet needs. These foods are also loaded with extra sodium that can cause water retention, skin irritations, and other allergy-like symptoms.

Cartilage Issues

Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint condition. Sometimes called OCD, this condition causes the bone under the cartilage within a joint to die due to lack of blood flow. The weakened tissue causes the cartilage to thicken and cause further injury, including lameness in those joints.

OCD is most common in larger breeds of dogs but can commonly be found in both the front and hind legs. Early signs can appear as early as 4-8 months and has been linked to excessive food intake. Surgery is required to remove the excess cartilage.

Joint Infection

Infected joints can also damage a joint to the point where it can cause arthritis. If there is an injury or penetration, it could worsen those infections and cause further damage. Antibiotics can help treat some arthritis cases due to these conditions but talk to your vet about your pet’s options.

Autoimmune Disorders

Just like humans, pets can also develop autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Both of those can cause inflammation of the joints, pain, and lameness. These disorders have been linked to an overreaction of the immune system and will typically affect multiple joints. They can also lead to excess wear on the cartilage and even damage the bone in the joint. Luckily, there are treatments, so talk to your vet if you notice changes in your pet.

Rheumatoid Arthritis In Dogs

This autoimmune disease destroys the synovial fluid that lubricates and cushions joints. That fluid is what makes movement smooth and easy. Rheumatoid arthritis causes your dog's body to mistake its synovial fluid as a foreign matter, and the immune system attempts to attack it. That causes the loss of the fluid and creates a non-stop inflammatory response in the joints, causing stiffness, pain, and swelling. There are ways to treat this condition. However, Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t common in dogs.

From there, the resulting damage is the erosion of the cartilage, and once this happens, there is no way to restore the joint to its original health, and there is no actual cure for this type of joint pain in dogs. You are, however, able to treat the pain and slow the erosion of the cartilage. That way, your dog can still have many happy years ahead.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament

Sometimes labeled as CCL are problems in dogs that don't arise from acute injuries. This problem can stem from a lack of manganese in your pet's diet instead of sudden acute injuries. CCL can cause rear leg lameness, pain and be overall severe and debilitating, leading to arthritis. Healthy ligaments just don't randomly tear, so ensuring your pet is getting all the vitamins and minerals they need is essential.

One factor that seems to be playing a part shows that dogs that have been spayed or neutered after they reach sexual maturity have an increased risk for cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Those hormones play a crucial role in altering ligament elasticity.

Most foods do have the minimum of what dogs need, but that doesn't ensure that your pet is getting the level they need. Supplement your dog's diet with a complete vitamin supplement like BioVites or BioJOINT from BiologicVet.

While we usually notice these problems later in life, it can be a good thing to get ahead of joint damage before it happens. Supplying the right form of chondroitin in your pets' early years can save them a lot of pain down the road. After all, we want them to live a long and happy life.