Approximately 40% of all dogs have arthritis. Could your dog be suffering in silence?
What is arthritis?
- There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis, essentially the same chronic condition that humans suffer from.
- Healthy joints are covered by cartilage, a rubbery material that creates a cushion between the bones and provides a smooth surface for movement.
- When arthritis occurs, this cartilage breaks down, causing swelling, stiffness, movement problems, and increasing pain, which steadily spreads throughout the body.
- Arthritis is normally found in older dogs, although it can affect youngsters too.
- It’s usually caused by natural wear and tear of the joints, but can also be linked to injuries, as well as joint abnormalities such as hip dysplasia.
How do I spot the symptoms?
Dogs are very good at hiding pain, which means they might not whimper or look obviously lame. Because our furry friends are four-legged (unlike us!), they are more adept at redistributing their weight to cope with discomfort. As a result, a limp can be harder to spot. Nevertheless, there are some signs to look out for:
- Subdued or uncharacteristically grumpy behaviour
- Using their front paws to pull their legs up or reach down instead of leaping, or being unable to jump
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or when it’s cold
- Changes in posture when running or laying down
- Lameness, limping or hobbling
- Less enthusiasm on walks or at playtime
- Taking more breaks when moving around
- Reluctance to climb stairs, jump onto the soda, or trouble getting into the back of the car
- Sleepiness or general lack of energy
- Climbing down the stairs by angling their body to the side, descending one stair at a time, and/or stopping for a break
- Persistently licking their fur and/or joints
- Difficulty grooming
The Good News
With proper management, the effects of osteoarthritis can be substantially reduced; enabling dogs to live happier and more active lives. Working in partnership with your vet to devise a complete care program can improve the quality of life for your dog and ease the management of canine osteoarthritis.