Jump to section

What is Joint Injury?

Any type of joint injury will most likely start out as lameness and swelling of the affected area. If you were present when your dog was injured, you will know right away that your pet may have a joint injury and how it happened. However, most owners are not with their dog when the injury occurs so you have to rely on the symptoms you see. Sporting or working dogs such as pointers, retrievers, and huskies are most susceptible to these types of injuries due to the impact on the joints during activity.

A joint injury can be one of several disorders depending on the type of injury. A cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLR) is the most common cause of lameness in the back legs and can turn into osteoarthritis if not treated. This ligament is part of the tibia and femur structure. Joint fractures are common in younger dogs because their cartilage is not as strong as the ligaments and bones. Palmar carpal breakdown is a hyperextension of the carpus (in the wrist) from jumping or falling. Hip luxation is the dislocation of a hip joint.

Nutramax Dasuquin Soft Chews

Joint supplement for dogs

Shop now
advertisement image

Joint Injury Average Cost

From 534 quotes ranging from $300 - $10,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Joint Injury in Dogs

Symptoms are specific to the type of joint injury, which include:

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLR)

  • Lameness
  • Fluid retention in affected leg
  • Pain in stifle
  • Joint swelling in affected leg

Joint fractures

  • Lameness
  • Constant pain
  • Holding leg abnormally
  • Inflammation

Palmar carpal breakdown

  • Lameness
  • Paw sinks all the way to the ground
  • Pain when walking
  • Weakness of affected limb

Hip luxation

  • Lameness
  • Severe pain when moving
  • One leg shorter than others
  • Inflammation

Types

There are several types of joint injuries in dogs such as:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is usually from excessive trauma and weak ligaments, immune diseases, or defects
  • Joint fractures may be from injury, disease, or normal wear and tear
  • Palmar carpal breakdown is an overextended wrist (paw) from jumping or falling
  • Hip luxation may be from an injury or disease
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Joint Injury in Dogs

The causes are varied depending on the type of injury. However, there are some breeds and types of dogs that are more susceptible, which are: 

  • Between 5 and 7 years old
  • Bullmastiff
  • Chow chow
  • Labrador retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Sporting dogs (Spaniel, Setter, Retriever, and Pointer)
  • Working dogs (Doberman Pinscher, Siberian Husky, and Great Dane)
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Joint Injury in Dogs

The most important part of any trip to the veterinarian’s office is your dog’s background and history. If you have your pet’s immunization and medical records, it is helpful to bring them with you if you can. Tell the veterinarian if you have noticed any abnormalities in your dog, such as change in appetite or behavior. Also, be sure to mention any drugs you have given your pet in the past few days that may affect the diagnosis or treatment. The veterinarian will also need to do a complete and thorough physical assessment, which consists of weight, height, reflexes, breath sounds, blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse, mucous membrane color, and capillary refill time. Palpation and auscultation of joints, abdomen, and chest is done as well as a lameness examination.

In addition to the physical checkup, some diagnostic tests will be done such as an arthroscopy to explore the area with an endoscope and manual manipulations of the affected joint. Laboratory tests are done next including a blood urea nitrogen (BUN), packed cell volume (PCV), chemical panel, glucose and insulin levels, bacterial and fungal cultures, blood enzymes, complete blood count (CBC), and urinalysis. Finally, both lateral and stress radiographs (x-rays) of the affected area will be needed. Additionally, an ultrasound and possibly a CT scan or MRI may be necessary if earlier imaging diagnostics were unable to provide information for the evaluation.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Joint Injury in Dogs

Each type of joint injury has its own treatment or treatments which may or may not include medication and surgical repair.

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture

If mild, the veterinarian may just give you a prescription for steroids or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). However, many times the injury will end up needing to be surgically repaired. Stabilizing the stifle joint is important in sporting or working dogs.

Joint fractures

Joint fractures almost always need surgery to stabilize the area and reconstruct the joint in a way that it regains its function, if possible. Medication is also needed, which include pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Palmar carpal breakdown

A splint or case may be tried at first along with NSAIDs to reduce inflammation. However, that is usually not enough to fix the problem permanently and surgery will be done to fuse the joints with a bone plate and screws.  

Hip luxation

A closed (nonsurgical) hip reduction is usually done if the injury is not severe. However, surgery may be the only option to get the hip back in place and stabilized. Medication will be given for pain and inflammation.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Joint Injury in Dogs

In most cases, your dog will need rehabilitation, which may include aqua therapy, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, and other types of exercise. Be patient because these injuries may take a long time to heal. Your veterinarian will advise you on the postoperative care that will be needed as well as the return to activity regimen that you can expect for your canine.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Joint Injury Average Cost

From 534 quotes ranging from $300 - $10,000

Average Cost

$2,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Joint Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Shiba Inu

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hip Pain

I have tile floors at home and my dog and I were playing with his toy and he slid on the tile but landed on his hip. Since then he hardly wants to walk, doesn’t have much of an appetite for food and water and when he tries to he can’t Stand on his legs to do so, his hind legs walk closer together as though they crisscross instead of being parallel to each other. I Can tell he mostly uses his front legs to help him self up and sometimes I see him struggle to get his hind legs to stand as well. Also he tries to use his front legs to help him self up. It’s been about a full day

Aug. 23, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Jessica N. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question! It sounds like he injured himself pretty badly when he fell if he is having a difficult time walking. I would recommend taking him to your veterinarian and having x-rays performed today. They will be able to evaluate to see if there’s any evidence of a fracture, hip luxation, they can palpate the knees to look for ACL rupture and check to make sure he doesn’t have any neurologic changes in his hind limbs. Then they will be able to prescribe pain medication and provide you with any additional treatment recommendations. I hope he feels better soon.

Aug. 23, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

Yesterday we noticed our Chi walking slowly and limping. Thought it was possibly from landing wrong on her paw, shoulder, etc. but touching all areas of her paw, leg, shoulder and back she gave no signs (yelping) to pin point the area. Seemed to get slightly better later in the evening. Today has been much worse. She won't move much on her own. When picking her up, we've now found it is somewhere under her arm pit/chest area that is sensitive. She is now is significant pain and as of 1 hour ago now has swelling in the area (arm pit and chest area) Does this warrant an ER visit tonight?

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she is generally doing okay if you don't touch the area, I think you are okay to wait until tomorrow to see your regular veterinarian. If she will not eat, will not move, is lethargic or is crying in pain, then I think having her seen at the ER tonight would be best. I hope that all goes well for her and she feels better soon.

Aug. 3, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Doberman Pinscher

dog-age-icon

Four Years old

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Joints

Has no energy, but doesn't yelp when we touch the swollen are

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello Thank you for your question. Swollen joints can be caused by infection or inflammation. I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam so they can sees what is going on. They may want to take x-rays or collect a sample of joint fluid, if possible. Good luck.

Aug. 1, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Jack

dog-breed-icon

Belgian Tervuren

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Holding Leg Up
Not Putting Weight
Immense Pain Despite Medications
Tiny "Kick Backs" Of Affected Leg

Our 13 year old Belgian Tervuren has extreme pain in his back left leg. He will not put any weight on it, and he will do a slight "kick back" of his leg when standing on the other three, and even lying down. He wants to lay down on the cold tile on the injured hip, he doesn't have any strength on that leg to come to a stand. We purchased a cooling mat for him so he would stay off the tile because his pads are getting really callused and puffy. The vet took xrays and also performed a thorough rotation of his leg and hip and stated he found nothing wrong, so it could be a spinal issue. When giving him a bath the other day, I touched the top of his hip joint and he turned and snapped at me, and he has NEVER snapped at me before. He has been on meds for weeks (pain and anti-inflammatory) and he is only getting worse. He won't get up to eat or drink, we have to bring it to him. But, he is still eating and drinking. And unless he really badly has to go to the bathroom, he won't get up. He will not play, and if you touch his hip, he will try to scurry away and avoid you because it hurts to the touch. Terv's do not typically have a life expectancy beyond 14 and we do not want to put him through surgery and lengthy recovery, which I understand can take months of intense therapy. I think the Vet (who is a really great vet, we live in a very rural area and he makes the long trip here with his fully equipped RV to treat the animals here) was just giving us time to decide to put him to rest. It is so sad to watch our once feisty and active boy, reduced to such a state seemingly overnight. It started as a slight irritation and now he is, for all intents and purposes, lame. Is there anything non-surgical that can be done that will heal him? Or should we prepare to say goodbye to our little boy we have had since birth?

Aug. 29, 2018

Jack's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Gracie

dog-breed-icon

Shepherd

dog-age-icon

20 Months

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

3wks ago my 20month old shepherd mix started limping suddenly on her left hind leg. Sometimes toe touching, sometimes partially weight bearing, sometimes full hop/no weight. She's been on restricted movement all three weeks, and on vetformen (1/2 pill twice daily) for pain management. Vet diagnosed as panosteitis after an xray 10 days ago, but she doesn't appear to be in much pain, and there is a visible (no sound) pop, perhaps a muscle pop, when her lame leg is bent, or when she sits and it bends, after which she can usually at least go back to partial weight. I'm concerned the panosteitis is a misdianosis due to lack of pain, visible pop, and the 3 week duration on the same leg with no improvement and potentially increasing lameness. Can you advise? Xray findings below. XRAY FINDINGS: There is mild patchy medullary sclerosis of the mid diaphysis of the left tibia. There is no evidence of stifle joint effusion remodeling. There are no significant abnormalities of the coxofemoral joints or left tarsus. There are no other significant findings on this study.

Aug. 15, 2018

Gracie's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Findings on x-rays are not directly correlated to symptoms in cases of panosteitis, so even though the x-ray may show signs of increased bone density it is not a linear relationship between x-ray findings and symptoms. If the condition is panosteitis, it is a self limiting condition and normally ends before two years of age (affected dogs are usually younger than fifteen months). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 16, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Lucy

dog-breed-icon

Belgian Malinois

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Stiffness
Limping
Inflexibility

Lucy is a sweet and strong pup, similar in looks and disposition to a Belgian Malinois, but is a dog I found on the street in Taiwan where I live. She got hit by a car on her first birthday and was injured in both of her hind legs. In the more seriously injured leg, you could see her bone and that some muscle and skin had been ripped out from the hit. Thankfully she didn't experience any broken bones! She was cleaned by the vet and had some staples put in to hold her skin together, fostering re-growth. She was able to start walking again a couple days after the hit, and seemed to be healing very well - not even two weeks later she was already chasing birds in the park again! But now, almost two months later, I've noticed that her joint is still swollen, and she is having more trouble climbing stairs. She has also started to limp a lot more often. She's young so she likes to tumble and has a lot of big dog energy to burn, and at first I'd wondered if she fell onto her leg the wrong way... but now that I've examined more, I can see that even this leg's paw is significantly skinnier than her other's, and obviously the rest of the muscles in this leg are also smaller as she's depending on the other leg for most of her moving around. When I bent her legs to see how flexible they were, her more serious leg can't bend in nearly as much as the other leg. It's something I want to show the vet again, but am also wondering if I can do something at home to take care of her since the vet is 30 minutes away and I don't have a car. More than anything, I want my sweet pup to be able to run and play with all of her energy like she used to!!

dog-name-icon

Irie

dog-breed-icon

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Leg

I have a 6 year old Staffordshire Terrier mix. When we rescued her (2.5 years ago) she has a ball of fluid near her ankle on one of her rear legs. Now that area has increased swelling and a good portion of her leg also swells. The vet tells us it’s synovial fluid and test show there is no cancer or anything else. We’ve had it drained twice and it swells again. Is there anything we can do to stop the swelling? Thanks for any advice.

dog-name-icon

Beau

dog-breed-icon

Labradoodle

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Lameness
Unable To Use Rear Leg

Playing fetch 2 days ago, Beau seemed to have stepped in hole while running. He let out a yelp, immediately stopped using a rear leg and has not really used it since. There is no swelling, hotness, no loss of range of motion. He does not mind if you try to figure out what is wrong. I cannot tell if it is hip, knee, or ankle because he is doesn't seem to be in pain - simply will not and cannot use it. He has not gone to the doctor yet.

dog-name-icon

marley

dog-breed-icon

Shitzu

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Back Area

my shitzu has something wrong with his back area he is walking and jumping about also hes eating well but i can tell there something wrong with his back area hes walking to the side and sits down a lot he did break his femur 4 years ago and has a pin

dog-name-icon

Ginger

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

My puppy is six months old. She was running around in the house jumping on furniture and probably fell off the couch or chair while I was outside cleaning up her mess. I heard her give a scream and came running in to see what happened. She seemed ok and I carried her with me to the couch and when I put her down she was limping and only using three legs she was fine ate all her dinner slept all night and is still pretty active when she wants to be. This is the third day and she still has not tried to walk on that injured left back leg. I am a senior and don't have the money to have her leg x-rayed and I am so concerned. I don't want her to be crippled or in pain but I live on social security alone. I tried to reach out to my children for help but they to are financially stressed. This dog is my companion and I don't think I can live without her.. Is there something I can do at home?

Joint Injury Average Cost

From 534 quotes ranging from $300 - $10,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Nutramax Dasuquin Soft Chews

Joint supplement for dogs

Shop now
advertisement image
How can we help your pet?