Are Small Dogs More Prone to Joint Disorders?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Are you the owner of a small size dog? If so, are you sure that you can recognize symptoms of joint issues in your canine? If not, read on, because this article just might save your dog's life.

No matter how small or big a dog might be, every dog is prone to joint issues at some period of their life.

Certain breeds are more prone to specific conditions than others are.

For example, when it comes to a large dog breed, Great Dane is more prone to joint issues, compared to Basenji.

What about small size dogs? Can they suffer the same issues as large size dogs? Of course, they can.

It may sound horrible but the disease won’t be too picky on who and how to attack.

This is why a great deal of responsibility comes to you – being a dog owner goes further than providing regular meals.

Being a responsible dog owner is all about planning, check-ups, and doing.

By doing, we mean being a responsible dog owner both inside your home and outside.

Your dog needs to be microchipped, always on the leash when on walks, vaccinated, and properly trained to be considered a well-behaved canine citizen.

By providing regular veterinarian check-ups you are actually prolonging your dog’s life, by enabling early detection of anything unusual or any underlying health problem.

For example, if you see your small size (or even bigger one) limping, having difficulties jumping, or just seeing him struggling from moving from point A to point B, your little dog is probably in some kind of joint-related problem.

Small Dogs And Health

Small dogs like Pekingese, are prone to certain health conditions. Sure, they are great for apartment living and city life, but they are so unique that they react differently to health-related conditions.

Small dogs should be served with high-quality food and always be on a special diet that actually promotes their specific needs.

Next to proper food, a regular feeding schedule, and the right amount of exercise you should provide regular veterinarian visits, so you can avoid certain health issues.

Can you help your dog avoid joint disease? Unfortunately, many joint issues are genetic and therefore impossible to avoid.

Still, early detection and intervention can help. The best thing that you can do for your dog is to keep his weight optimal and under control.

Extra weight will always put joints under huge stress. Also, your Fido needs to be active, and it’s up to you to provide enough exercise – know how much exercise small size dogs actually need.

Regular walks are highly recommended. Next to walking, swimming is highly recommended.

Small Dogs And Jumping

Jumping can make things even worse.

Never force your dog to jump too often or too high, because not every breed can jump equally high, nor they should. What can you expect from your veterinarian?

You can expect your veterinarian to recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to soothe the joints, or over-the-counter supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to prevent joint degeneration.

It’s always great to take certain actions around your home.

Keep your dog away from slippery surfaces, prevent him from jumping by keeping him away from high objects, get a stool so he can easily go to the bed, or simply help him get up and down.

What if your dog just needs a rest? This is up to your veterinarian to decide.

Only after a detailed check-up your veterinarian will be able to tell what’s the joint’s situation, and whether your dog just needs to rest for a few days or he is in serious pain and further steps should be taken.

If you notice that your dog cannot stand or have a hard time standing even on only one leg, make an appointment right away.

You should know that not all small size dogs have joint problems, although they may be prone to certain joint problems.

Every breed has its issues, which is why it’s important to be educated on a dog’s health overall and do your best to educate yourself on what a responsible and educated owner needs to do and learn to keep the dog healthy and strong.

When it comes to joint problems, a small dog can sometimes develop conditions like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. These conditions can lead to other health issues such as joint pain and arthritis.

Are Small Size Dogs More Likely To Have Joint Problems?

This is where the role of responsible breeders comes to play.

When dealing with the responsible breeder you know exactly what you are getting.

Experienced breeders and those with ethics, will always present you with the dog’s medical documentation, let you see the facilities, and often introduce you to puppies moms.

Responsible breeders will always pay extra attention when screening dogs.

In fact, a responsible breeder is likely to screen canines before breeding to help phase out any potential issues.

What is known is that hip dysplasia can occur in small size dog breeds – in fact, this condition is often seen in small dogs than in larger breeds.

For example, patellar luxation is a condition often seen in small size dogs. Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap slips in and out of place.

It can be inherited, or it can be developed over time. In some cases, it can be caused by an injury or an accident.

How Does Patellar Luxation Affect A Small Dog?

Patellar luxation is often seen in small size dogs. This condition can cause a strong degree of pain and discomfort, and overall can negatively affect a dog’s mobility.

Dogs often face this condition and it is one of the most present orthopedic problems that dogs face.

In some cases, it’s a genetic condition, while in some cases it can be caused by an injury to the knee.

Around half of the dogs with patellar luxation experience it in both knees.

What Are The Signs Of Joint Problems In Small Size Dogs?

Knowledge is power. By knowing what to search for and what signs might be troublesome, you could help your dog tremendously.

Sometimes an early diagnosis or prevention can do wonders for a dog’s health and overall well-being.

Early treatment of joint issues can help slow down deterioration and even help prevent possible further injury, pain, and discomfort.

If you notice any of the following signs make sure that you contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment:

  • Limping
  • Avoiding stairs
  • Reduced mobility
  • Slowing down
  • Your dog doesn’t enjoy walks or playtime anymore
  • Dog doesn’t want to be picked up
  • Dog constantly licks a joint area
  • When running dog tend to hops
  • There are swellings near joints

Can Joint Problems In A Small Dog Be Prevented?

As expected, if your dog already develops joint issues, you can’t prevent them.

Luckily, you can still do something to prevent issues from getting worse. In a way, you can slow down joint-related issues.

Here is how you can help your dog maintain healthy joints:

  • Make sure that your dog isn’t overweight
  • Provide your dog a proper diet
  • Make sure that your dog gets proper exercise
  • Don’t force your dog to jump
  • Prevent jumps from higher distances
  • Be extra careful with puppies when it comes to jumping
  • Treat any injury as soon as possible
  • Talk to your veterinarian about dog supplements that can support healthy joints
  • Monitor your dog every day for any sign of unusual behavior – know your dog’s body language
  • Get regular veterinarain check-ups

What Can You Do For A Dog With Joint Problems?

If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with any type of joint issues the best thing that you can do is to start treatment as soon as possible.

Early intervention can help slow down the progress of the condition and help make your dog more comfortable.

Here are some steps that can help you provide good care to your small dog with joint problems:

  • Always search for a detailed evaluation from your veterinarian
  • Talk with your veterinarian about supplements that could strengthen your dog’s joints
  • Talk with your veterinarian about medication that could help your dog
  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment for your dog
  • Keep toys on the floor so your dog doesn’t have to jump to get them
  • If your dog is overweight, put him on diet and provide better nutrition
  • Consider rehabilitation therapy or other treatments that your dog could benefit from
  • Ask your veterinarian if surgery might be an option

The Bottom Line

When it comes to keeping your dog healthy and happy everything comes down to proper knowledge.

As mentioned earlier, knowledge is the ultimate power that can help you keep your dog healthier.

Proper knowledge will help you enable the right intervention.

When you know your dog, his behavior, and body language you might just recognize an early symptom of any health issues and act upon it. The better you know your dog, the healthier he will be.