Updated: 2021, Jun 13

Dog Joint and Hip Pain – What You Really Need to Know

Just like humans, dogs can develop problems with the hips and joints usually as they age. Some breeds of dogs are also prone to developmental joint problems that can get worse with advanced age. Keeping an eye on your dog’s behavior will help you catch any changes to the joints early on.

Dog Joint and Hip Pain – What You Really Need to Know

The earlier you start treatment for common joint disorders in dogs, the better the chances of your dog living an active and happy life. To help you along the way, we cover everything you need to know about dog joint and hip pain.

What can Cause Pain in your Dog’s Hips and Joints?

The most common causes of hip and joint pain in dogs are osteoarthritides and hip dysplasia. While dogs can develop many types of bone diseases, most dog breeds who manifest with pain and discomfort in their joints are affected by either osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of joint cartilage with the formation of new bone on the surface of the joints. It is usually a result of wear and tears to the joints that happens naturally with aging.

The joints may lose their normal functioning due to decreased lubrication and this may lead to pain and inflammation. Hip dysplasia, on the other hand, is a disorder of the hip joints caused by laxity of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue surrounding the joints.

This causes the bony structure of the joints to lose contact with each other which leads to malformation of the joints. The condition can be extremely painful to the dogs causing them to change their gate and leading to lameness in the affected joint.

Why Dogs Develop Hip and Joint Problems?

Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to developing problems with the hips and joints. Larger breeds such as the German Shepard and Labrador Retriever are particularly prone to developing problems with the hips and other joints.

Overweight dogs are also at risk of developing different types of arthritis due to excess strain affecting their joints. Nutrition may also play a role in the development and prevention of hip and joint problems in dogs.

A dog joint diet should consist of raw protein from meat and less grain. Another factor that may contribute to the development of hip and joint disorders in dogs is neutering.

One study published in the Veterinary Medicine and Science found that there was an increased incidence of osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia in neutered dogs.

Dog Nutrition

What can I do about My Dog’s Joint and Hip Pain?

Once a veterinarian has diagnosed the cause of your dog’s pain, they will recommend a treatment to help preserve joint functioning and also pain relieving medications.

Depending on the causes of your dog’s joint pain, a veterinarian will usually recommend:

Weight Management

Excess weight will put undue strain on already damaged joints in both hip and joint disorders. Keeping your dog’s weight at healthy levels will definitely offer some relief to your dog and help him/her start moving more frequently.

Dietary Changes

Adding dog joint supplements can help with pain and inflammation in the joints. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation in the joints that are causing your dog pain. Omega-3 fatty acids also help preserve joint cartilage structure.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can also help your dog find pain relief and keep him/her active. Physical therapy includes stretching, massage therapy, underwater treadmills and similar things that increase your dog’s mobility while struggling with the pain caused by arthritis or hip dysplasia.



Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) reduce inflammation and offer immediate pain relief to dogs with hip and joint disorders. Because the side effects of these drugs and the adverse effects they could have on the liver and kidneys, many owners are quite wary of administering these drugs to their dogs.


In cases where a dog’s mobility is severely affected and where everything else fails, surgery may be needed to repair the damaged joint. Surgery can either involve removing debris from the joints, rebuilding parts of the joints or even replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one.


Dogs can develop problems with their hips and other joints due to many factors such as advanced age, nutrition, genetic, and congenital disorders. Disorders of the joint can severely disrupt normal joint structure and functioning and lead to inflammation and pain.

Because your dog is in pain due to joint problems, you should discuss with a veterinarian on what options are available to help your dog find some relief and start moving again.

Treatment usually involves, weight management, dietary changes, physical therapy, and pain relieving medicine. While damage to the joints due to common disorders is irreversible, its progression can be slowed down with the right kind of treatments.



Sam Kramer is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, and Certified Sports Nutritionis

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