Arthritis is a very common condition, especially in older dogs. This condition can be just as painful for our four-legged friends as it is for us, meaning as dog owners, we need to understand the signs of arthritis and what we can do to help. Below is a guide to arthritis in dogs, so you can take care of your pooch if they do develop it.
The Causes of Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis in dogs usually appears as they get older, just like in humans. Some dogs can develop arthritis a lot younger though and this may be down to developmental issues. The cause of arthritis determines how bad it can be and what joints it can affect. Sometimes, dogs only get arthritis in one joint, or it can be widespread, affecting their whole body.
The most common causes of arthritis in dogs are:
- Trauma or injury, such as a fracture
- Joint instability, which may occur after a ligament has been damaged
- Cartilage damage, or the abnormal development of cartilage
Signs Your Dog May Have Arthritis
There are some common signs to look out for if you think your dog is suffering with arthritis. These include:
- Stiffness, especially after laying down for a while and in the morning
- A reluctance to go out for a walk, or exercise, especially if they usually love to do this
- Symptoms that get worse in damp or cold weather
- Changes in your dog’s behavior, such as sudden grumpiness
- Your dog walking and running slower than normal
- Licking themselves at the joints (look out for saliva staining)
Joint pain is a major sign of arthritis in dogs, but sometimes dog joint pain can be caused by other factors. Native Pet have created a handy guide to dog joint pain, including the symptoms, causes, and treatments. They also offer all natural supplements that can help aid in long-term joint health, so you may want to check out their store.
What Should I Do Next?
If you believe your dog has arthritis, or another joint pain condition, you must get them seen by a doctor. While you can treat some symptoms of arthritis at home, it is best to seek vet advice, as they can help to diagnose the condition and determine any underlying causes. Arthritis in dogs is usually diagnosed with a physical exam, as well as x-rays. A blood sample may also be taken, to rule out further problems. Once you have a diagnosis, you and your vet can make a plan of action, including anything you can do at home, and suitable medications.
Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs
There are a number of treatments available for arthritis in dogs. Some are medical, while some involve lifestyle changes or herbal remedies. What your dog is prescribed will depend on how bad the arthritis is, and what may be causing it. If your dog is overweight, one of the first lines of treatment will be to get your dog to a healthy weight. Being overweight will cause a strain on your dog’s joints, will which make arthritis worse and more painful for your pooch.
Although you may think your dog should avoid exercise, the right types of exercise can actually strengthen the muscles in your dog, leading to less strain on joints. The more sedentary your dog becomes, the worse their arthritis can get. Your vet may want you to introduce certain supplements into their diet, which can help with arthritis. Pain medications can be prescribed but, after a while, your dog will get used to them, making them ineffective. This is usually a last resort, as other methods can be as effective and do not have as many side effects. Some people swear by using CBD oil for their dogs, which has been known to help with joint pain and arthritis.
What You Can Do at Home
If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, there are certain things you can do at home to make their lives easier and more comfortable. If you have stairs leading up to your property, you might want to invest in a dog ramp, to make the ascent to the house easier. You should also invest in a comfortable dog bed that is made for those with arthritis. There are many great orthopedic dog beds out there to choose from, which can really improve your dog’s sleep and make it easier for them to get up in the morning.
If you have hardwood or other slippery floors in the home, this may make it difficult for your dog to maintain balance. If you can cover the floor, try to do so. You can also purchase your dog special socks or booties which will have a non-slip bottom, making it easier for them to get around the house.
Many dogs get arthritis as they age. Understanding the symptoms can lead to your dog getting early intervention and help. Many treatments can be started at home and changing your home to support your dog can make their life more comfortable.