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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.

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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
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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)
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Joint Injury Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,000

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Joint Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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mixed

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10 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen hip?leg? She jumped off our high bed and yelped. Shes been limping off and on. But she walks on it spontaneously.

Feb. 19, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. Swelling can occur for several reasons after an accident like this including a dislocation, fracture or strained muscle. Dogs may intermittently bear weight even with serious injuries, especially if they get over excited. A vet visit is best and I suspect she will benefit from some anti inflammatories and pain relief.

Feb. 19, 2021

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dog-breed-icon

Shiba Inu

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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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

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Jessica N. DVM

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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

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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
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