Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs

Arthritis is common in older dogs, especially larger breeds. And while there is currently no cure for arthritis, it can be managed.

So what should you be looking for if you think your pet is suffering from this disease? Arthritic pets tend to take more time to get moving in the morning than they used to, can be reluctant to go for walks, and may move more slowly than they used to. Some dogs may limp, or show signs of stiffness or lethargy.

Arthritis literally means 'degeneration of a joint', and is also known as osteoarthritis. Joint injuries, such as ligament tears or dislocations, can result in arthritis later in life, even though the original injury has healed. However even normal wear and tear over the years can cause inflammation and damage in a joint.

The incidence of arthritis increases as dogs get older, just as it does in humans. Larger, heavier dogs, especially overweight animals, are more susceptible to arthritis as their joints have to carry more weight. Dogs with pre-existing joint conditions such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia are more likely to develop arthritis.

"Some dogs can have quite severe arthritis yet show minimal signs of discomfort."

The symptoms vary with the dog and the location and severity of the arthritis. Some dogs can have quite severe symptoms, yet show minimal signs of discomfort. Signs of osteoarthritis can be easy to miss.

Symptoms can wax and wane, so that one day a dog may play less than usual, the next day he or she will be running around like a puppy. A dog may seem more lethargic and depressed than usual, but sometimes this is attributed merely to old age and the problem not investigated any further. Dogs may lie down or rest more often, then be quite stiff when they get up.

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The degree of stiffness varies with temperature, and many owners notice that it worsens when the weather is colder. During walks or runs, some dogs fall behind or tire more easily, while others warm into the exercise and then become sore afterwards when cooling down. An arthritic dog may have difficulty climbing stairs or jumping into the car. Arthritic joints can be swollen and hot to touch, both signs of inflammation.

As the disease becomes more painful, dogs may lick at the affected joint. When touched near the affected area some will pull away and whimper, yelp or bite. If the limb is not being used, the muscle may start to waste away, with owners noticing a reduction in muscle bulk or tone. Dogs in a lot of pain may also lose interest in food.

However this is not an exhaustive list of the symptoms of arthritis. All dogs are different and may show varying symptoms. Symptoms listed above may actually be indicators of a variety of diseases. If you have any concerns, you should consult your veterinarian. If the diagnosis confirms arthritis, you can start to manage the condition and give your dog a better quality of life.