Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
8 Veterinary Answers

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

What is Degenerative Joint Disease?

Degenerative joint disease is either of an acute or progressive nature. It can affect both young dogs and older canines. Most often, DJD is discovered at the end stages of the progression, simply because our pets have not been displaying their pain. Acute cases, such as what may occur with a trauma, may present at time of injury, with a continued progression towards osteoarthritis as a consequence. Degenerative joint disease is the most common joint disease seen by veterinarians, and sadly complete resolution is not the outcome for sufferers of DJD. However, signs of the disease and the accompanying pain may be relieved to an extent depending on the severity.

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) occurs when there is a consistent degeneration of cartilage, tissue, and synovial fluid of the joints. The growth of bony spurs around the joints, which compounds the problem, can occur in tandem and is a result of friction between the bones due to the loss of lubricating fluid. DJD is often referred to as osteoarthritis.

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Degenerative Joint Disease Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,200

Average Cost

$700

Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

Our pets do not articulate pain well and actually have very stoic personalities. This is why osteoarthritis is most often diagnosed in later stages of the condition. If your canine companion is displaying any symptoms of discomfort, a visit to the clinic is warranted. As a pet owner, you must seek out pain relief at the very least.

  • A change in normal gait
  • Problems with jumping into the car for example
  • Reluctance to go up and down stairs
  • Difficulty rising from a lying down position
  • Lameness in one or more limbs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of desire for activity
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Vocalization of pain
  • Showing pain when touched
  • A clicking or popping sound when moving or walking

Types

Degenerative joint disease is considered progressive (not due to known trauma or disease) or secondary (an acute reason brought it on like cruciate ligament rupture). Further name classification can be osteoarthrosis, osteoarthritis, and secondary joint disease.

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Causes of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

The exact order of the process of degenerative joint disease is not completely known. Documentation has not been finalized for instance, as to whether synovial membrane changes occur before cartilage damage or vice versa. What is known is that cartilage is affected by biologic, chemical and mechanical transformations, like chronic conditions, load bearing, and advancing age. Some of the recorded causes for the changes are:

  • Splitting of cartilage layers
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Patella luxation (floating kneecap)
  • Chronic subluxation (constant shoulder instability)
  • Slipped epiphysis (displacement of capital femoral epiphysis due to trauma)
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (cartilage flaps in joints because of abnormal bone growth)
  • Aseptic necrosis (death of tissue)
  • Weight on the joints
  • Age
  • Trauma to the joints
  • Stress on the joints (particularly with working and sporting dogs)
  • Systemic disease can be a factor, like diabetes
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Diagnosis of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

When you bring your beloved family member to the veterinarian for an examination, the visit will start with a discussion first, or concurrently as the veterinary caregiver takes a careful look at your pet. Be prepared for a few questions.

  • When did you first notice the lameness and behavioral changes in your dog?
  • Is it a consistent sign of pain, or is it more evident with exercise?
  • Did he experience an injury?
  • Does he participate in a sport?
  • Please describe prior treatment if any, and inform us of the medications that have been tried.

The primary cause of the DJD must be diagnosed in order to slow down any degenerative processes that are resulting from the cause. To continue the diagnostic process, the veterinarian will do a physical analysis of the movement of your dog’s limbs. She will check for ease of movement or abnormality of range by manipulating the joint and checking limb flexion. She may be able to feel a thickening of the joint and hear a grating sound as the limb is moved and flexed. She will also check for atrophy of the muscles.

A neurological assessment will be part of the investigation, to rule out a secondary cause of that nature. Blood tests and urinalysis are tests that are routinely included because they can be useful indicators of your dog’s general health. When looking at DJD, markers in the blood should all read within normal ranges.

Radiographs will prove to be invaluable as they easily show signs of DJD like narrowing of the joint space, possible calcification, bone spurs or cysts, and densification.

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Treatment of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

With degenerative joint disease, there will not be a return to complete health for your furry family member, but the pain he may be experiencing can be reduced somewhat, and attempts will be made to prevent further degeneration of the joints as well as restore as much mobility as possible.

Rest, therapy, and medication will be included in these treatment suggestions:

  • Surgery, if expected to be effective in stopping progression or greatly reducing pain
  • NSAID’s
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Chondroprotectants to protect cartilage
  • Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill)
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Massage

Symptomatic improvement, reduced pain and the ability to enjoy exercise once again are the goals for the treatment.

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Recovery of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

Dietary changes will be necessary to control your dog’s weight. He may need pain medication for life, and for certain, supplements like omega 3’s and glucosamine chondroitin can only help. For the very best results, you will need to comply with the advice of your veterinarian, and consult her as needed if your pet’s health situation changes.

In the case of a secondary disease, the recovery of your pet will be determined by the illness and your dog’s response to it.

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Degenerative Joint Disease Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,200

Average Cost

$700

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Degenerative Joint Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Gracie Belle

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Mutt

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Stiffness, Slight Limp

My dog Gracie Belle was recently diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease in her front left shoulder. We had noticed a dip as she walked for a a couple of months and just assumed she sprained her paw as it wasn't severe. I took her to the vet because it just didn't seem to go away. They took radiographs and diagnosed her with DJD. They sent me home with Rimadyl and Glucosamine and advised that she rest for a couple of weeks. Just leash walks and no running. No other advice was given. They did suggest hydrotherapy if the limping gets worse. I feel we should have been better advised. What do you think?

Aug. 24, 2018

Gracie Belle's Owner

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1 Recommendations

First it is important to see how Gracie Belle responds to rest, anti inflammatories and supplements; it can take some time to see improvement with glucosamine but you should keep a close eye on her and follow your Veterinarian’s instructions. Hydrotherapy and acupuncture may help, but first see how she responds to the treatment prescribed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 24, 2018

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Patty

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Doodle

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10 Weeks

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

Can an 8 week old puppy have Joint disease? A puppy fell three feet and was walked 1 mile and a half. The next day it was limping. Went to the emergency vet and had every test known to man done. The only thing that came up was swollen joints and with some white blood cells involvement. The vet is 95% that it is joint disease but the puppy is off meds completely asymptomatic and it has been 10 days. No steroid was given, cultures and infectious disease report all negative. Ct scans and X-rays all good. If yes on the joint disease in such a young pup - can it have been brought on by the injury?

March 9, 2018

Patty's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Whilst joint disease is normally associated with older dogs, it is possible for dogs of any age to be affected as well; however it is likely that the limping was a direct result of the fall and walk. If Patty isn’t showing any issues with movement and is otherwise walking normally I would recommend that you take her for short walks and keep activity restricted for a week or two and then start to build up activity and see if they’re any changes or signs of pain. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 9, 2018

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Degenerative Joint Disease Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,200

Average Cost

$700

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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