We love our dogs and treat them like family, but as they climb higher in age and degenerative diseases start to set it, it can be confusing to learn how to help our four-legged friends.
Osteoarthritis is the most common disease among dogs, affecting an estimated 20 percent of the canine population. Also referred to as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), osteoarthritis is marked by the prolonged inflammation of the joints that is caused by deteriorating cartilage.
Often times, there are telltale signs of osteoarthritis in dogs: we just need to pay attention! Whether your dog is losing muscle mass in his or her limbs or is having trouble getting up, here are 7 signs that your pooch might be suffering from osteoarthritis.
Mostly, dogs limp because of injury or trauma to the legs, joints, or paws. In the case of osteoarthritis, your dog might be limping because of the pain in his inflamed joints.
The deterioration of the cartilage that cushions the joints causes dull to extreme pain in dogs suffering from OA, and limping is a way of reducing the amount of weight that is put onto those joints.
Limping may be a sign of other health problems, but if your dog is a senior, he’s most likely experiencing joint pain caused by arthritis.
2. Reluctant Moving
Dog arthritis is painful. Inflammation, soreness, and localized aches and pains are all apart of osteoarthritis, therefore making regular movements and activities hard.
If your dog has a decreased desire to move about, it could be because he doesn’t want to add to the pain he’s experiencing already. Small, seemingly insignificant tasks have the ability to further inflame your dog’s joints, only exacerbating the disease.
Here are a few ways your dog could be showing reluctance:
- decreased desire to engage in play
- wary of going on walks or walking in general
- won’t climb stairs
- inability to jump or complete commands like shake or lie down
- not greeting you when you come home
3. Slowness During Walks
Fido might be showing signs of dog arthritis through his daily routine.
Much like human seniors, dogs slow down physically with age. They take longer to get from one end of the house to another, or they take longer to use the bathroom in the yard.
Is your dog taking longer to finish walks with you, or slowing you down to the point where you might as well carry him home in your arms? Osteoarthritis could be taking a toll on his joints, thus lessening his ability to keep up on walks like he used to.
4. Difficulty Standing Up
This is one of the most common signs of arthritis in dogs. When a dog has difficulty standing up, especially after sleeping, more often than not it’s a joint issue.
A healthy dog’s joints are cushioned by a layer of protective cartilage that allows the bones to move with ease throughout a full range of motion. However, when a dog is suffering from osteoarthritis, the cushioning cartilage is worn down which causes a decreased range of motion, meaning that tasks that were once simple are now much harder on the dog.
Standing requires a lot from the joints, and when your dog’s joints are deteriorating from this disease, it’s a difficult task. Your dog might take longer to stand, or he might fall while attempting to do so. He may even be reluctant to stand at all.
Either way, if your dog is having trouble standing or performing normal tasks, it’s time to see a vet.
5. Excess Sleeping
It’s entirely normal for older dogs to indulge in a few more z’s than usual, but there is a point when your dog is sleeping in excess.
Oversleeping is sometimes a sign that your dog is experiencing a medical issue like arthritis. When joint pain flares up, it isn’t uncommon for dogs to use sleep as a means of relief for their symptoms.
6. Personality Changes
Apart from general lethargy, dogs can display both minor and significant personality changes when suffering from osteoarthritis.
Just like humans, dogs can experience personality and mood changes as an impact of painful or sore joints. They can become less enthusiastic or playful than usual, and some dogs might not even seem compelled to greet you.
Unfortunately, dogs suffering from osteoarthritis might also become aggressive, even when they’re usually good-natured and friendly. Snapping, yelping, or flinching upon being touched or stroked are also indicators that your pet is suffering.
7. Chronic Joint Licking
Is your canine companion constantly licking and chewing at or around joint areas? This is sometimes an indication that your pet is in pain.
Dogs with osteoarthritis often lick at sore, stiff, and painful joints. This habit, known as constant localized grooming, is performed as a means of soothing oneself. It’s a dog’s instinct to lick at wounds and injuries to clean them, and this transfers to the aches and pains of osteoarthritis.
When it comes to osteoarthritis in dogs, there is no treatment. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t ease our pets’ pain or help treat their disease. Most vets recommend dog joint supplements because they have the ability to reduce joint inflammation and pain.
Preventing Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Our dogs are everything to us, so we need to cater to their needs even more as they get older. If your dog is showing one or more of these telltale signs, it might be a good time to head to the vet for a check-up!
Remember, you can help ease and prevent osteoarthritis in dogs with joint supplements and nutritious food.
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