Humans have the benefit of being able to communicate when they’re not feeling well or are dealing with pain. Because your dog can suffer silently for an extended period of time before a condition becomes noticeable, it is important to keep an eye out for common symptoms that might affect your dog’s ability to move and stay active.
Arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints in dogs and can be a challenge for dogs and their owners who are used to being active on a regular basis. According to VetStreet.com, this ailment is when abnormal and destructive cellular activity occurs in an animal’s joints, causing severe pain and even a lack of mobility.
This disease can be a product of a previous injury, infection, problems within the animal’s immune system or it can be caused by a hereditary condition such as hip dysplasia, which causes the joints to grind together, inflaming them. In most cases, arthritis begins to show in senior dogs. Younger pooches can also develop it, though it’s much rarer.
Certain breeds can be more prone to developing arthritis, so owners should be aware of whether or not their pup is more at risk. Many times large, working breeds such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Great Danes are affected by arthritis. Starting these canines on daily joint-enhancing supplements can prevent pain or keep the problem at bay for longer. Certain conditions such as hip dysplasia may precede the onset of arthritis. Keeping an eye out for breed-specific ailments may prevent the development of arthritis in the future.
Signs that your dog could have arthritis include stiffness after exercising or a decrease in muscle definition. The dog may also start to have limited movement, trouble getting up, lying down or going up and down stairs or visible joint swelling. Your pooch may also become aggressive if you touch certain areas on its body such as its hips.
Sometimes it can be hard to recognize these signs. In many cases, the progression of the disease is slow, so it’s important to bring it to the veterinarian’s office right away if you do notice any changes in your dog’s attitude or activity levels.
To give a proper diagnosis, the vet will most likely x-ray the dog to look for bony growths or joint abnormalities. Once arthritis is pegged as the culprit, the vet may start the dog on pain management pet meds to ease its pain.
You may also need to change your dog’s diet to a grain-free option to ensure it maintains a healthy weight. The dog will no longer need a high-activity pet food as its condition may make it less likely to exercise as much as it used to. It is still important that your dog receive exercise on a smaller scale. Try going for a walk around the block or on a flat trail. Giving your pooch gentle massages, providing it with a stress-free environment and making sure it’s warm will also help it better deal with arthritis as it ages.