Arthritis, the swelling of the joints that causes pain and stiffness in your dog, is very common. In fact, approximately one in five dogs develop arthritis in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, since arthritis occurs “out of sight” within your dog’s joints, it can be difficult to detect as owners. After all, it’s not like our dogs can speak our language.
This article will teach you how to notice dog arthritis symptoms and get your dog help sooner. Read on to find out more.
If Your Dog Is Lethargic
If your dog is typically bounding up and down your lawn and playing with you but now he just wants to lay down for what seems like all the time, it could be a sign of arthritis.
Arthritis can make it painful for your dog to do even basic activities like running and jumping.
Pay attention to your dog’s movement patterns. If he slows down after the age of seven it might not just be from getting older. It could be the result of arthritis developing in his joints.
If Your Dog Gains Weight
All of the movements your dog does each day help burn calories and keep him or her healthy.
If your dog starts gaining weight but you’re feeding him the same amount of food, it’s a sign that he’s not moving as much as he used to.
Lack of movement could be due to arthritis and the pain he feels from even basic movements. Weight gain is something that should be brought up with your dog’s veterinarian as it’s a sign he could be developing arthritis.
If Your Dog Winces Away From You
If you’re like most pet owners, you love a good snuggle session with your pup.
You enjoy bonding with your dog by brushing their hair, giving them belly rubs, and just hugging the heck out of them.
A dog with arthritis might start to wince away from you when you touch them or try to touch them.
This is because extra pressure (or the anticipation of extra pressure) on their joints can be very painful with arthritis. And since they can’t express in words that you’re hurting them, they will either yelp or tend to create distance from you. It’s not personal, it’s just their instincts.
Try to notice if there’s a particular spot that your dog doesn’t like being touched. If this is near their hip or knee joints it’s a tell-tale sign they might have arthritis.
If your dog isn’t being as affectionate as usual it could also mean they’re in pain of some sort. Be sure to have them examined as soon as possible.
If Your Dog Is Walking Differently
Once you’ve had your dog for several years you get used to their movement patterns.
However, a dog with arthritis who is in pain will naturally start moving differently.
You might notice your dog hunched over in order to put less stress on his joints. You might notice he is favoring one leg over the other.
Don’t ignore these changes in movement patterns. They indicate that your dog is in pain and is having trouble moving normally.
How to Help
Now that you know the warning signs of arthritis you can get your dog examined if he starts to behave in any of the above ways. Once your veterinarian confirms that your dog is indeed suffering from arthritis, it’s time to take action. The following are steps you can take to make your dog feel more comfortable and continue living a happy life.
Put Your Dog on a Diet
Diets aren’t fun for anyone, but neither is joint pain.
If your dog is overweight he is constantly putting added stress on his joints that simply doesn’t need to be there.
Getting your dog to lose weight when he is avoiding exercise can be difficult. You should switch to a low-calorie kibble and make sure you’re only feeding him the recommended portions.
You should also cut out table scraps and reduce the number of dog treats you give him for reinforcement.
Remember that you’re not being cruel by feeding your dog less, you’re helping him live a happier and more energetic life. Incidentally, you need to have more discipline than your dog in this matter.
Once he has lost the excess weight and is able to move around more again, you can return to a more calorie-dense diet. However, if all your dog is doing it laying around all day, he is burning almost no calories and therefore needs to eat a lot less long term.
Make Accommodations for Your Dog
Old age and arthritis go hand in hand.
It’s possible that you’re going to need to make slight adjustments to your home to support an older dog. This includes buying things like doggy ramps to help your dog get from point a to point b with less impact.
If you have a tall truck that your dog used to be able to jump in and out of, accept that might not be possible anymore. A ramp will allow your dog to enter the truck without hurting himself.
A doggy stroller is another option for dogs who are in severe pain. This lets your dog get out without putting stress on his joints.
Give Your Dog Supplements
There are vitamins and supplements your dog can take to help with arthritis.
These supplements decrease inflammation in the body and reduce the amount of pain your dog experiences.
Establish a regular supplement schedule to make sure your dog is getting the joint care support he or she needs.
Talk To A Vet
Certain types of arthritis require more extensive medical intervention. It’s always a good idea to talk to a vet to understand exactly how to tackle your dog’s unique situation.
Now You Know How to Address Dog Arthritis Symptoms
Nobody wants to see their pup suffering from dog arthritis symptoms.
It can be painful to watch a dog go from energetic and happy to moody and tired all the time.
However, don’t despair. Follow these steps to help your dog feel better and get back on his feet as soon as possible.
Wishing your dog the best of health!