Just as with people, dogs can experience a variety of problems with their joints. This is especially true for those that are highly active. However, since some joint conditions can be genetic in nature, even sedentary dogs can develop joint-related health issues. Problems with the joints can be genetic and/or degenerative, and the most common of these conditions are described below.
Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that surrounds joints begins to deteriorate. Causes of osteoarthritis in dogs include normal wear and tear (aging), obesity, injuries, and congenital defects that involve joints. This is a disease that worsens with time, and while it can be treated, there is currently no cure. Dogs of any age and/or breed can develop osteoarthritis.
Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
While hip dysplasia in dogs is primarily a genetic condition, various environmental factors can encourage its development. This is one of the most common joint disorders seen in large or giant-sized dogs, and it occurs when the hip joints do not develop as they should. Depending on the seriousness of hip dysplasia, treatment often involves surgery. Breeds that are most often predisposed to this condition are as follows:
Just as with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is mainly a genetic condition, but its development can be hastened due to various environmental factors. It is caused by the unusual growth of cells and/or tissues surrounding the elbows, which leads to degeneration of the joints. Surgery is often the treatment of choice. Breeds that are most often affected by elbow dysplasia include those listed below:
- Labrador and Golden Retrievers
- Bearded Collies
- Chow Chows
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- German Shepherds
Patellar luxation is a condition that affects mainly toy-sized and small breeds of dogs. It occurs when the dog’s kneecap becomes dislocated from its normal position in the femur. Also known as luxating patellas, this health issue can range from mild to severe. While mild cases typically do not require treatment, severe cases often require surgery. Breeds that are commonly predisposed to patellar luxation are listed here:
Finally, anterior cruciate ligament injuries are joint problems that are mainly seen in active dogs. ACL injuries occur when anterior cruciate ligaments are torn or ruptured due to excessive exercise or injuries. Depending on a dog’s unique condition, treatment for an ACL injury may involve anti-inflammatory drugs, therapy and/or surgery. Breeds that are most often affected by ACL injuries are listed below:
These are the most common hip and joint problems that are found in dogs today. However, before closing, it is essential to note that although there are some breeds that are more predisposed to each of these conditions, this does not mean that other breeds cannot develop them.
For example, more and more today, small breeds such as Pomeranians have been developing hip dysplasia (which is primarily a large breed health problem). Additionally, some large dogs such as Samoyeds have been known to develop patellar luxation, which is mainly a small breed condition.