Seven Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in older dogs and it affects 4 out of 5 of them. The disease is disabling, non-curable, and progressive.
There are many more incidences of dogs with arthritis today than there were in previous years. Factors such as extended life expectancy and obesity are among the main causes of this increase. But, what are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs? Today we’ll tell you what we know about it.
Arthritis is common but still not entirely understood. Actually, it’s not a single disease and the name mainly refers to joint pain or joint disease. It’s a common ailment in humans and in dogs and it’s also one of the most common causes of chronic pain.
Arthritis in dogs is a degenerative disease that damages cartilage – this has no nerve endings and it isn’t easy to know that it’s damaged. When the cartilage is badly worn, the bone underneath may also begin to debilitate and change shape.
This is very painful because bones do contain nerve endings. It also leads to abnormal bone growth, which isn’t only painful but also limits an animal’s activity.
Furthermore, when a dog gains weight, its body makes and releases more of these destructive proteins. Losing even just a few pounds can reduce joint stress and inflammation, cutting down the risk of arthritis in half.
Arthritis, a common disease in dogs
According to studies, one out of every five dogs will receive an arthritis diagnosis at some point during its life.
It can affect dogs of any breed, although it’s common in larger breeds as well as in those predisposed to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and other common hereditary diseases that affect the joints.
Learn to identify the symptoms that may indicate your dog is suffering from arthritis, an age-related condition.
Excess of weight and arthritis in dogs
In addition, one of the main increases in cases of arthritis happens in overweight dogs that live in urban centers. This is mainly because their bones are forced to carry excess weight, leading to all sorts of damage to the joints.
Obesity is often the result of excess intake of food, inadequate diet, and insufficient physical activity. According to statistics from a dog food manufacturer, between 25 and 30% of dogs carry at least a few extra pounds.
But an excess of weight is not the only reason for arthritis in dogs. There are others such as:
- Age: Arthritis is a disease that’s linked to old age and it usually afflicts animals older than 8 years of age.
- The dog is a member of an extra-large breed.
- The dog is a member of a breed that’s genetically predisposed for arthritis such as Retrievers, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Boxers, and Rottweilers among others.
Learn to identify the symptoms
But, how can you know if your dog is afflicted with arthritis? The following symptoms are very specific to this disease:
- The dog lags behind at a slow pace when you take it out for walks.
- It has difficulty getting up and sitting down. Sometimes it may choose not to even sit up and eat. It can’t seem to find a comfortable position.
- It loses interest in games and long walks.
- Furthermore, it’s reluctant to climb into the car, the sofa, or go upstairs – many of the things it once did easily.
- It also may limp or favor one leg over the other one –this is a lot more noticeable when the animal moves around.
- The dog whines or moans when you touch certain parts of its limbs.
- It shows other changes in habits and behavior. For instance, it may sleep longer, develop loss of appetite, be irritable, or lick certain areas of its legs compulsively.
Consult a vet if you think your dog has arthritis
If you suspect your dog is suffering from arthritis, have it evaluated by a vet immediately. If the professional confirms the diagnosis then they can prescribe a treatment to make the dog more comfortable and enhance its quality of life. Among the different treatments there are:
- Medications for inflammation and pain
- Dietary supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin
- Specific diets to decrease excess weight
Don’t medicate your dog without a prescription, especially not with drugs designed for human consumption. Also, try to provide a comfortable space for the dog to lounge around and where they can walk through places where the ground is softer.
Do remind them how much you love them and pamper them with loving words.