4 Common Types of Bone and Joint Conditions in Pets and How to Treat Them

4 Common Types of Bone and Joint Conditions in Pets and How to Treat ThemLike humans, dogs and cats can have problems with their bones and joints. Whether it’s due to old age, getting injured, genetics, or a congenital defect, there are many treatment options available when your pet suffers from a condition affecting the bones and joints.

Hip Dysplasia

This type of condition usually affects larger breeds of dogs, including German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamute, and Saint Bernards. While the disorder is rare in cats, it can still affect heavier-boned breeds such as Main coon and Persian. In both dogs and cats, it is usually a condition that is inherited and occurs when the ball-in-socket structure of the hip joint does not develop properly. The tissues and muscles surrounding the hip joint begin to stretch and eventually become arthritic.

This condition needs to be monitored closely, usually with the help of frequent X-rays and physical examinations. Treatment options can depend on the severity of the condition and the animal’s age, weight, and general health. Pain medications and surgery are common treatment options.

Patellar Luxation

This condition is also referred to as a dislocated kneecap and is one of the most prevalent abnormalities having to do with the knee joint in dogs. Miniature breeds such as the Pomeranian, Yorkshire Terrier, and Chihuahua are most susceptible to this particular condition.

Cats can also have a dislocated kneecap, especially the Abyssinian and Devon Rex breeds.

Patellar luxation is usually either inherited or it is caused by trauma. It can also be a congenital defect, meaning they are born with a dislocated kneecap.

X-rays and fluid samples taken from the joint are needed in order to properly diagnose this condition. Surgery is the most effective treatment option.

Bone Fractures

Bone fractures usually occur as a result of trauma. X-rays must be taken to determine the severity and location of the fracture. The three most common types of fractures include:

  • Hairline – there are cracks in the middle of the bone
  • Multi-piece – the bone is broken in several places
  • Compound – serious fracture where the bone is exposed

When a dog or cat has sustained a bone fracture, it will need to be put under anesthesia and then the fracture gets immobilized by either surgical or non-surgical means. Most bone fractures will require surgery.


When the joint cartilage begins to deteriorate and it causes the joints to become chronically inflamed, it is known as osteoarthritis. Once thought to affect only large dogs, it can affect any breed but is more common in older dogs. Older cats can also suffer from this degenerative condition. Common symptoms of this condition in dogs include decreased levels of activity, lameness, and a stiff gait. Cats with this condition often exhibit abnormal behaviors such as not grooming themselves as much or no longer jumping up to their favorite spots.

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, the condition can be managed with weight loss, exercise, and anti-inflammatory drugs. In some cases, different types of surgical procedures, such as joint replacement or removing cartilage fragments, may be beneficial.

If you’re concerned about your pet having an orthopedic condition, contact us at The Animal Hospital fo Sussex County to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian.

Our Certifications

AAHA: The Animal Hospital of Sussex County is a certified hospital in the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). To achieve this distinction, our hospital has passed regular comprehensive inspections of our facilities, medical equipment, veterinary practice methods and management. If you are traveling or relocating anywhere, finding an AAHA hospital will ensure the best medical care for your pet. The AAHA is recognized as the world’s leading association of small animal practitioners.

AAFP: We are also a cat friendly practice, certified by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This means that the Animal Hospital of Sussex County is specifically set up to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment for your cat. Our staff has also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat.

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