Bones, joints and mobility problems

Our dogs can suffer from several conditions that affect their bones, joints and mobility, yet these might present similar symptoms like limping or lameness. Some of the most common ailments that affect a dog’s crucial support system include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cruciate ligament damage
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Luxating patella
  • Disc extrusion
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Spinal Disease
  • Dislocation

A dog’s bones and joints are under constant pressure as they go about their daily lives so understanding these conditions and being able to recognise their symptoms will help your vet diagnose what’s causing your dog’s mobility issues.


Symptoms for these types of problems will depend on the condition’s severity, longevity, and location as well as the cause with many sharing some, if not all, of the signs.

These may include:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Stiff, swollen or sore joints
  • Falling behind on walks
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Becoming less playful
  • Sensitivity when touched
  • Low energy
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Licking the affected area
  • Skipping or hopping

As some of these conditions are progressive diseases, a dog’s symptoms might worsen over time so owners shouldn’t ignore changes to a dog’s usual behaviour.


Some of these conditions can be down to a dog’s genetics, meaning it’s been passed down from its parents, while others are caused by wear and tear or old age. Traumatic injuries can also result in a dog developing a problem with the affected joint or limb.

Another culprit that puts a lot of stress on a dog’s bones, joints and mobility is obesity. If a dog is overweight their bodies are put under constant strain and their bones and joints start to get damaged.

Prevention and treatment

As some of these conditions are down to a dog’s genes, the only form of prevention is responsible breeding and buying. This means, if a dog suffers from any of the hereditary conditions or something that is likely to be passed on to its pups, they should not be bred from and potential buyers should ask for specific health certificates to ensure their pup has the best start to life.

Otherwise, keeping a dog at a healthy weight, feeding good quality food, and providing regular and appropriate exercise can all help reduce the likelihood of one of these conditions from developing or at least delay the onset and severity of its symptoms.

Treatment will depend on the problem and its severity, with some conditions being able to be managed by medication while some need to be corrected by surgery.

Contact your vet or speak to a Joii vet, free of charge to every Animal Friends customer with any dog insurance policy, and they will be able to help you diagnose any changes you might see in your dog.


Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.


Need dog insurance?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £7.8 million to more than 700 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.