Written by Vet Tech

Joint Pain In Dogs: Signs and Treatment

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Here is everything that you should know about joint pain in dogs. Learn the common signs and most effective treatments now.

There is nothing worse than watching your beloved pet experience the aches and pains of old age, injury, and overall joint discomfort. Whether they are crying out with sudden sharp pains, or slowing down with time; they shouldn’t have to grin and bear it without any kind of support.

What makes joint pain even more uncomfortable for our pups, is the fact they can’t exactly voice their discomfort the way we can when we are experiencing pain. It’s up to us to know the signs of joint pain, and when to begin implementing supplements into their daily routine.

In this guide, we will discuss the common signs of joint discomfort, and the ways that joint supplements can make your pup more comfortable!

Joint Pain In Dogs Symptoms

Dogs can be much harder to read when it comes to their aches and pains. It’s not often obvious when a dog is experiencing discomfort, and will usually present in more subtle ways.

Some possible signs of joint discomfort in dogs are:

  • Slower getting up in the morning
  • Slowing down on walks
  • Irritability
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Licking of a joint frequently
  • Crying out when switching positions, standing up, or upon activity
  • Muscle loss
  • Swollen joints
  • Disinterest in physical activities
  • Hesitation to jump up on furniture, into the car, etc.

As you can see, some of the signs of chronic pain in dogs can be a bit more discreet than you would ever expect. If your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms, it’s time to start looking at options for joint support.

Joint Pain In Dogs Causes

When it comes to aches and pains in our canine friends, the possible causes can vary from dog to dog. Though we often associate joint pain with older dogs, they are not the only ones that suffer from this discomfort.

Some factors behind joint and hip pain in dogs include:

Large Breed Dogs

Some dogs are simply aching due to their large size. Many veterinarians have gotten to the point of suggesting joint supplements for all large breed dogs from the point that they reach adulthood.

Joint supplements can help slow down the deterioration of the joints and provide relief from daily swelling or pain.

Dogs With A Previous Or Current Injury

Dogs who have experienced previous bone or muscle injury are more at risk to chronic aches and pains due to previous trauma.

If your pup has ever experienced an injury or has had previous orthopedic surgery; a joint supplement is recommended to combat aches and pains.

Old Age

As our companion’s age, they may begin to experience chronic joint pain and discomfort. Additional lubrication and support from joint supplements can make their aging process much easier, and help to slow down joint deterioration.


Obesity is not only unhealthy for your dog’s overall health but can put extra strain on their hips and joints.

Having to support a large amount of weight each day can result in chronic pain and additional stress that the joints aren’t prepared to handle.


If your dog participates in vigorous activities or sports, they may need a joint supplement to help keep up with the wear and tear of daily activity, and provide them relief from the soreness that comes with frequent activity.

Congenital Causes

Congenital causes (present from birth) can cause joint pain in many different forms, depending on the condition. For example, many small dogs experience luxating patellas, which often results in severe knee pain over time.

Another example is hip dysplasia in large breed dogs, which can be debilitating as they age.

Can Joint Supplements Help?

While joint supplements can enrich any dog’s life, they are truly a life saver for pets with daily joint pains.

While the body does produce these chemicals that are present in joint medications, it becomes quite difficult for the body to keep up once a joint has already been damaged in some way.

When a body is healthy and without joint damage, the normal amounts of glucosamine, chondroitin, and other building blocks are able to effectively manage the joints.

Once the joints have become compromised, a dog’s body is unable to produce enough pain-relieving chemicals to keep up with the discomfort and joint damage.

By adding a joint supplement to their daily routine, you are giving them the extra support they need to build back the strength in their joints and keep them as pain-free as possible.

Joint supplements will help restore joint strength, reverse some previous damage, and help relieve the daily pain that an achy pup may feel each day.

By giving them joint support, you know you are doing everything possible to extend their comfort and happiness.

Though joint supplements can be a life saver, keep in mind that most joint supplements require a 2-3 weeks loading dose in order to see results.

While the relief may not be instant, this loading dose pays off drastically for overall comfort.

What ingredients decrease joint pain? And what should you look for in a joint supplement?

When you start researching joint supplements for your dog, you’re going to see many different ingredients being thrown around online that claim to combat joint pain. It can be tough to know what actually works and what’s necessary.

With my experience in veterinary medicine, I’m here to tell you about the ingredients that actually work, and what you should look for in a joint supplement.

1. Glucosamine Hydrochloride

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that is referred to as the “lubrication” of joints. Glucosamine hydrochloride works by repairing the soft and spongy material between the joints, helping to reverse some of the damage present in dogs with joint pain.

Because of this, glucosamine is the main ingredient used for dogs with injury, joint pain, and chronic inflammatory disease. Keep in mind that glucosamine often requires a loading dose, which means a higher dose for the first few weeks of administration in order to see results.

When purchasing a supplement with this ingredient, you will typically see specific instructions that will differ the first few weeks of administration and will switch to a lower dose after a few weeks that will be continued as a long term maintenance dose.

If you do not see immediate results with this use, make sure to continue giving it for the full loading dose time period before you decide if it’s working for your pup or not.

2. Chondroitin Sulfate

This ingredient works by helping to prevent the break down of the cartilage tissue by relieving inflammation. When given before serious joint injury, this ingredient works wonders to prevent joint pain and discomfort.

It will also require a loading dose similar to glucosamine administration.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been used for quite some time in veterinary medicine for overall health and joint supplementation. This ingredient is known for reducing inflammation throughout the body and acting as a lubrication for the joints.

This is the ingredient that is found in fish oils. (salmon oil, krill oil, etc.)

4. Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU’s)

ASU’s work by protecting cartilage tissues, and stimulating healing of damaged tissues. It has been found that its use alone is not as beneficial as when it is combined with other joint supplement ingredients.

This is why you will often find it as an additional ingredient in joint supplements.

5. Green Lipid Mussel

The exact way in which green lipid mussels work to help joint health is yet to be confirmed, but it is believed to help with joint inflammation.

You will often see this ingredient in addition to other joint supplements in a product. It is not ruled unsafe, it just hasn’t been thoroughly researched at this point.

6. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is an ingredient that can combat joint deterioration, and ease joint pain with the combination of other joint supplements.

What Else Can You Do For A Dog’s Joint Pain?

Aside from the addition of joint supplements into their routine, there are a few other ways to help relieve joint discomfort in dogs. Some simple changes you can make include:

  • Changes around your home to make your pup more comfortable including adding carpets to wood floors, adding steps that lead up to high areas that they frequent, raising their food dishes off the ground so they don’t have to bend over, and any other home improvement changes that you think will put less stress on their aching joints.
  • If your dog is overweight, it’s time to consider a weight loss plan to help them take the extra stress off their joints. Make sure to discuss this with your vet to determine a healthy plan of action.
  • Aside from joint supplements, some dog foods cater to senior dogs or those that struggle with joint pain. Make sure to browse through your options next time you visit the pet store or ask your vet about prescription diets.


Joint pain in dogs is extremely common but can lead to a great amount of discomfort for your beloved companion.

Now that you are aware of the signs of joint pain and how to make them more comfortable, your furry friend will surely thank you!