Posted by: christopher


Dog Arthritis and Common Joint Problems Part 1 – The Front Legs

Your dog’s joints can get a real workout, from fetching tennis balls to jumping into and out of a car. But for some dogs, the resultant pressure on their joints can be a real problem. You see, more use leads to more injuries and can eventually lead to joint-related problems such as dog arthritis.

If you want a quick tour of dog arthritis you have come to the right place. Let me take you, joint by joint, through the common problems can lead to dog arthritis. Please note this is just a summary, I don’t have time to detail each disease. Look for the common diseases on other posts.

Shoulder Joint

Your dog’s shoulder joint is subject to osteochonritis dissecans (OCD) caused by loss of blood flow to the bone. The heavy shoulder muscles can make detection of the associated inflammation in this area difficult, but during an examination your vet will observe that extending and flexing the shoulder joint will cause discomfort for affected animals.

Sometimes the supporting structures of the joint can become damaged and dislocate, a condition known as scapulohumeral luxation. This, along with bicipital tenosynovitis (inflammation of the shoulder tendons) can be very painful for your pet.

Elbow Joint

Dog arthritis can often be the result of unstable elbow joints. If your pet exhibits signs of recurring or unresolved front leg limping, a consultation with your veterinarian is warranted.

The most likley causes of elbow pain in younger animals is elbow dysplasia, where fragments of bone (fragmented coronoid process) are present in the elbow joint, and ununited anconeal process, where some of the bones that form the elbow fail to fuse.

Osteochonritis dissecans (OCD) can also affect the dog’s elbow.

Other elbow conditions that your veterinarian will check for when your dog has joint pain include:

  • Joint incongruity
  • Joint instability
  • Traumatic elbow luxation
  • Congenital (development related) elbow luxation
  • Elbow Luxation caused by Premature Closure of the Distal Ulnar or Radial Physes
  • Blunt trauma to the elbow joint

Wrist (Carpus)

When a dog suffers carpal hyperextension they have a breakdown of the ligaments that support the back of the wrist. This results in its collapse from the normal upright position. Non-weight bearing lameness can result, which can progress to dog arthritis associated pain and lameness.

Dog wrist joint problems can also be attributed to carpal luxation or subluxation, the collapse of the carpal joints, along with sprained ligaments. In young, growing dogs, one cause of wrist joint problems often investigated is carpal laxity syndrome.

I hope this overview of joint problems in the front legs has been helpful. You can read further on my blog to find out more about specific diseases. Please read on for part 2 of this article – Common Joint Problems of the Hind Limbs.

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Comments (12)

  1. Posted by: Norma October 26, 2012, 11:17 PM

    Hello my dog started walking diff. around the age of 7 months. His front legs are spread apart more. He can stretch them out though. When he chews on a bone he cannot keep both hands on it like most dogs. He tends stumble a bit. When he runs he looks like a horse. THe vet said it could be neurological. But what do you think it is exactly?

    1. Posted by: christopher October 30, 2012, 6:00 AM

      Hi Norma, that is a hard one to say. Could well be a neuro problem. What breed is he?

  2. Posted by: duane October 12, 2011, 1:44 AM

    My weiner dog buster has arthritis real bad in his back. Do you have any suggestions on if there are any meds I can give him besides a massage?

    1. Posted by: christopher October 12, 2011, 5:11 AM

      Duane, the NSAIDs are not that helpful for back pain in my experience but might help with arthritis in the back, as might glucosamine supplements like Glycanaid.

      My best treatments for back pain are the pain killers, in particular gabapentin. You might want to speak to your vet and see if he thinks a drug like gabapentin is a good one for your dog.

  3. Posted by: Ray September 29, 2011, 9:07 PM

    And also today our french bulldog started jumping up while lying still and would yelp in pain,he also flinches every 30sec or less where his whole body jerks.. These are new signs that go along with his front legs collapsing and walking gingerly on them which makes me think a neuro prob? Im looking at Lyme disease from ticks maybe being the culprit now,he gets reg tick protection but i have read where a tick only needs 24 hrs for the lyme to pass on…The vet wasn’t any help the 1st trip and i need to go back again for tests.. any other ideas? help!

    1. Posted by: christopher October 1, 2011, 7:25 AM

      Wow, sounds severe. I think he should go back to the vet and be reassessed. Neuro sounds more likely. Hope it all goes ok.

      1. Posted by: Ray October 1, 2011, 4:47 PM

        Thank you Christopher,We took him back to the vet and got prednizone,robaxin and doxycycline(antibiotic) It could be a disc or vertebrae problem,so now were letting the meds work on him and hope for the best… P.S. There has been no more yelping in pain at least,keeping fingers crossed :)

        1. Posted by: christopher October 2, 2011, 9:27 PM

          Happy to hear that Ray. Pls. keep me posted. I’m keeping my fingers crossed too :)

  4. Posted by: Ray September 29, 2011, 3:21 PM

    Hi,Our 5 yr old french bulldogs front legs(both) just started collapsing a few weeks back.When it first started he would be playing and 1 leg would give out and then we noticed it was the other also so now he barely walks around and it seems there’s pain involved.Today he was just standing and yelped as he went down favoring a front leg.He isnt standing normal either,kinda crouched with both fronts.All the Vet done was feel his bones and give me arthritis meds.He’s had no injuries and this all popped up pretty quick (both legs collapsing) any ideas??

  5. Posted by: Betty September 20, 2011, 11:02 AM

    My dog, Butch has been dealing with arthritis for the last two years (he is 12 now) and his favorite thing to do after a walk is to sprawl out next to our newly repaired AC unit and enjoy the cool air while I rub his rub his achy joints.

    1. Posted by: christopher September 23, 2011, 4:13 AM

      Hi Betty! you might want to perform massage therapy to go along with that rubbing :) About 10 to 15 minutes if your dog is small & 20 to 30 minutes if your dog is big. The best time to perform it is in the morning and the evening. There’s a blog about massage therapy here you can read.

  6. Posted by: Fotografia Ślubna Rzeszów March 23, 2011, 11:53 AM

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!


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