Dog Joint Health and Joint Problems

Prevent and catch your pet’s joint aches and pains early.

What should you look for and how do you know what you are looking at?

In a dog's body, joints are where bones meet. Cartilage, membranes, and fluid link bones so that they can move. Just like with people, aging and injury can damage a dog's joints, resulting in pain, weakness, and prone to other health problems.

So let’s talk about unfamiliar dog leg joint terms, common dog joint problems and injuries, and steps that can be taken to make sure that all dog joints are healthy and stable for dogs of all ages.

How To Prevent Injury

Joint Treatments Available to Pets

Routine Visits to the Vet and Care

Get Familiar with Canine Joint Anatomy


How To Prevent Injury 

Taking preventative steps is the best way to keep your dog's joints healthy. Like most things in life, the easiest health plans work best: eat right and work out. Dogs that are overweight put a lot of stress on their musculoskeletal system and are more likely to get joint pain and accidents, so responsible dog owners want to keep their dogs at a healthy weight.


Here are a few tips from fellow veterinarians on how you can keep your pet’s joints healthy:

  • For Puppies: Don't feed them too much. This creates stress on the puppies' joints by making them grow too quickly and can hurt them for life.
  • For Adult/ Senior Dogs: Overfeeding older dogs makes them less likely to exercise, strains their muscles and joints, and makes their bodies more swollen and inflamed.
  • Diet: If you want your pet to have the appropriate Paleo diet, they should eat fewer or no carbs. This will help pets keep a consistent weight and reduce swelling.
  • Exercise: It's your job to make sure your pet gets enough exercise. Remember that animals want to move their bodies.
  • Supplements: The purpose of a quality supplement is to reduce joint inflammation, strengthen joints, and relieve pain. See the best ingredients for joint support here


Joint Treatments Available to Pets

While there are some diseases that affect the joints that can't be cured, there are other noninvasive ways to aid in recovery that reduce pain and inflammation for pets. These methods are a few that are currently recommended by veterinarians with several case studies to support this form of rehabilitation for pets.

  • Cold Laser Therapy: A deep-penetrating light is used in laser therapy for dogs to start a chain of chemical reactions called photobiostimulation. These reactions release hormones and stimulate cells.
  • Acupuncture: A lot of dogs also do well with acupuncture to help with joint pain and inflammation and to speed up the mending process. You will find that a lot of acupuncturists who work with people are also licensed to work with animals.
  • Orthopedic Bracing: Orthopedic dog bracing can often help dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, torn CCLs and other joint health problems by keeping their joints stable. Dog knee braces support dogs by taking pressure off their CCL joint so they can move and heal without pain. Balto® has two canine ACL braces that help keep knee joints healthy and stable depending on the need; in addition to several other braces for a variety of joint complications.

Routine Visits to the Vet and Care

It's important to take your dog to the vet regularly for checkups. The veterinarian standard suggests scheduling a visit at least once a year for puppies and adult dogs, and every six months for older dogs over eight years of age. This will allow your vet to recognize any early signs of joint pain or soreness and take action sooner.

Get Familiar with Canine Joint Anatomy

Dog joints can be broken down into three groups:

  • Synovial: free-moving joints that allow for the greatest range of motion (ROM)
  • Fibrous: rigid joints that are linked by tough tissue
  • Cartilaginous: joints that are held together by cartilage

Dogs most often have arthritis in their joints. With arthritis, joints swell up and ache. This is usually because pets have lost cartilage or tissue that prevents bones from rubbing against each other, causing friction. Arthritis is a disorder that gets worse over time. Senior dogs or dogs that have been previously injured are more likely to show symptoms of arthritis; especially injuries from knee luxation and hip dysplasia.  Find out more about the signs of arthritis.


Hock Joint – This joint is below the stifle (knee) on the back leg of a dog. This joint, called the hock joint, links the shin bones to the bones of the paw. It works like the ankle joint in humans.

Commonly seen dog hock issues include: Achilles tendon/ ligament injury, minor tarsal bone fractures, tarsus instability, hyperextension or hyperflexion, and arthritis/arthrosis.

Learn more about the Bato® Hock and Balto® Flexor for canine hock joints.


Stifle Joint - The stifle joint in a dog's back legs is like the knee joint in people. The femur, patella, and tibia bones are all joined together at the stifle joint. The ACL joint or the CCL joint are other names for a stifle joint, but they are not exactly correct.

Commonly seen dog knee issues include: Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) injuries, luxation of the patella, severe arthritis/ arthrosis, varus/ valgus instability, and sprains and strains.

Learn more about the Balto® Jump and Balto® Ligatek for canine knee joints.


Elbow Joint - This is where the radius, ulna, and humerus bones meet. This joint is exclusive to the front legs of a dog.

Commonly seen elbow issues include: elbow dysplasia, arthritis/arthrosis, elbow luxation. Elbow inflammation, and hygromas.

Learn more about the Balto® Soft and the Balto® Soft Plus for canine elbow joints.


Carpal Joints - In pets, these joints connect the bones in the front paws to the rest of the front leg.

Commonly seen carpal issues include: carpal and tarsal laxity, minor carpal bone fractures, carpus (wrist) instability, sprains and strains, hyperextension or hyperflexion, and arthritis/arthrosis.

Learn more about the Balto® Splint, Balto® Bone, and Balto® Joint for canine carpal joints.


Hip Joints- As a dog walks, its hip joint is very similar to humans. It is made up of a ball and socket that connects the femur and the pelvis.

Commonly seen hip issues include: hip dysplasia, hip inflammation, and arthritis/arthrosis.

Learn more about the Balto® Life for canine hip joints.