Musculoskeletal Disease in Dogs: Things You Can Do to Help Your Pet

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from many different diseases or injuries throughout their life. And just like humans, musculoskeletal disorders are the most common health issue dogs struggle with. They happen for a number of reasons and usually are associated with large-breed dogs that weigh more and put extra pressure on the bones and joints. If that is the case with your dog, you should know how to help it so that it can regain its quality of life.


The Most Common Musculoskeletal Disorders That Affect Dogs

Shoulder Degeneration

When a dog suffers from shoulder degeneration it has an inability to properly use the limbs and feels pain when trying to move. With time, the muscle mass weakens and the dog avoids any kind of activity. It usually happens because of abnormal development or physical injury and manifests when the dog is between 3-7 years of age.

Knee Dysplasia

The knee joint in dogs has a kneecap that holds the bones in place. Sometimes this kneecap slips out of place and it’s the cause of knee dysplasia. It may not cause immediate pain, but with time it causes arthritis and the dog is unable to walk properly.

Hypertrophic Dog Arthritis

This type of arthritis is known to affect large-breed dogs. The real cause for this disease is not known but many think that the pressure put on the joints and bones during the dog’s growing period is the reason for it.


Osteoarthritis causes progressive deterioration of the cartilage. The cause for this disease is unknown although in some cases it may appear because of overall abnormal development, some form of injury or dislocation as well as abnormal development of the cartilage.


Osteochondrosis is known to affect the shoulder joints and as with many other types, it’s known to appear in large-breed dogs that weigh a lot. Usually, a lesion forms on the humeral head that causes an abnormal thickening of the cartilage followed by degeneration.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a very common condition that affects dogs, especially older ones. It happens when the head of the femur slips out of its place causing hip degeneration and osteoarthritis in later stages.


Medical Treatments That Can Help a Great Deal

Musculoskeletal disorders in dogs are serious and cause major discomforts, pain and inability to move. There isn’t a cure for this condition although there are medications that significantly reduce the symptoms. Once the diagnose is certain, your veterinarian can prescribe you the required dog prescriptions that you can find in a regular online pharmacy in addition to veterinary pharmacies.

Usually, veterinarians prescribe the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug apex meloxicam, a dog medicine that is known to help with inflammation and pain both in acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders. You should give it to your dog once a day mixed with food. The proper dosage is one or two drops per kilogram.

How do non-steroid anti-inflammatory dog meds work? When the body is injured or irritated in some way, it releases substances called prostaglandins which are the cause for all the pain, inflammation and fever. The NSAIDs reduce the production of these substances and thus prevent or lower the pain, inflammation and fever.

You should always shop for approved non-steroid anti-inflammatory dog meds that are proven to be safe and effective in order to avoid complications and side-effects from happening. Also, pay attention if the medication is meant for a certain species only (it should be listed on the packaging). You should get the medications that are suitable for your dog and nothing else. For example, there are plenty of anti-inflammatory medications that humans use to treat the same health problems but still, they’re not safe for your dog and you shouldn’t give them to your dog without consulting a vet first.

Some of the possible and most common side-effects of anti-inflammatory dog prescriptions include vomiting, lack of appetite, decreased activity level and diarrhea. Some dog meds for musculoskeletal disorders can affect the digestive tract, liver and kidneys. Severe side effects include ulcers, intestinal perforations, kidney failure and liver failure. If you notice any strange changes in your dog behaviour after it has taken the medication, you should contact your veterinarian.


What Else You Can Do to Make Your Dog Feel Better

Along with proper medications, your dog needs to have a proper dietary regimen, food rich with nutrients as well as plenty of supplements that will allow it to function properly and regain strength.


Glucosamine is an amino sugar that helps to build the cartilage and it’s naturally found in the fluid around the joints. The supplement is made out of shells from shellfish and many veterinarians recommend it especially for dogs that have arthritis. It has shown a great effect in many cases. Glucosamine is also known to reduce pain and improve mobility in older dogs. You can find it in the form of a pill, powder and dog treats, which means that it will be easy for your dog to ingest it. Antioxidant supplements are also great in reducing inflammation. Such is vitamin C and vitamin E.

Orthopedic Bed

The right type of pet bed is especially important for aging dogs and dogs that suffer from musculoskeletal disorders. Orthopedic beds offer support and relieve the pressure off the bones and joints. You can get one with memory foam that is known to help improve mobility and provide your dog with comfort if it feels any pain.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

In order to prevent illnesses and disorders or to prevent an existing illness from progressing, you need to take your dog to regular veterinary check-ups. The veterinarian can spot even minor changes and make tests to see if your dog is ill and if you should start precautionary measures or medications. Proper care and treatment can greatly minimise the effects of the illness/disorder and keep your pet happy and healthy.