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Arthritis in Dogs Signs and Symptoms

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Arthritis is associated with getting older and is a common problem for both humans and dogs.

If you suspect your pup has this degenerative joint disease, this is likely just a side effect of your pooch hitting old age.

Dog arthritis is a long-term and often painful health condition and will typically require life-long care.

For dogs and owners, the good news is that most pups will live a happy and full life for many years, even after being diagnosed with this progressive health condition.

Plus, there are many ways to make your pup more comfortable and less painful. 

Arthritis in a dogs’ hips and hind legs is fairly common for senior dogs, especially if you have a larger breed, such as a German Shepherd.

General wear and tear in dogs joints over the years can lead to a range of risk factors.

From dog arthritis and osteoarthritis to hip and elbow dysplasia and instability or muscle atrophy.

So, it’s important to spot arthritis in dog’s signs and symptoms early, as it could be linked to a canine infection, injury, or underlying health problem. 

So, let’s take a look at arthritis’s main symptoms and when you should book a trip to see your veterinarian. 

(BTW - Our orthopedic beds for dogs can really help your dog get a good night's sleep).

Early Signs of Arthritis in a Dog

We all want our pups to have a full and happy life, even as they get older.

To help your dog lead a healthy lifestyle well into their golden years, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of arthritis.

It’s important to take action as soon as you notice your pup is in pain to prevent further joint damage, inflammation, and pain. 

Here are the most common early signs of arthritis. 

  • Difficulty getting up from sitting or lying down. 
  • Stiffness in dogs joints and hind legs 
  • Sleeping more than usual 
  • A reluctance to play, chase a ball, run or jump. 
  • Changes in their behavior and becoming irritable during the day
  • Accelerated weight gain 
  • Sore and painful joints 
  • Having little accidents in the house 
  • Signs that they’re in pain when being petted 

Although these are common signs & symptoms of arthritis in pet dogs, they are also very similar to canine hip dysplasia.

So, if the above sounds all too familiar, it is worth booking an appointment to see your veterinarian as soon as you can.

Only with a physical examination and x-ray will you be able to figure out what has got your pup down in the dumps lately. 

Arthritis In Senior Dogs

Arthritis is more common in senior dogs, but this progressive and painful joint condition can happen at any age.

Depending on the cause of the condition, arthritis can be mild, moderate, or severe.

For senior dogs, if the layer of cartilage that normally cushions the joints has worn down over the years, they will be in a lot of pain.

The impact of the bone surface rubbing against each other will be enough to stop your pup from going on a walk. 

Sore joints, like in humans who have arthritis, will make your dog grumpy and pretty frustrated.

Since surgery is not usually an option for senior dogs as the risk of going under anesthetic is generally too high, it’s your job to help them make simple lifestyle changes to reduce pain and inflammation in sore joints.

Your veterinarian may suggest changing their diet, helping them to lose weight, or investing in an orthopedic dog bed to cushion sore and painful joints. 

When To See Your Veterinarian

If you’re worried about your pup, it’s a good idea to book an appointment to see your local veterinarian, even if the signs and symptoms are subtle.

You know your dog more than anyone else, and any slight changes in their behavior will be a strong enough indication that somethings not quite right.

During your veterinarian appointment, be clear about the signs and symptoms you’ve noticed in your dog.

Communicate your dog’s usual routine and any changes to their activity levels, diet, and behavior.

This, along with a physical exam, and x-ray will help your vet diagnosis your pup’s condition and outline any underlying health problems.

After your vet has identified the issue, they might recommend some fish oil supplements for your pup, rich in omega-three fatty acids, or pain-relief medication to soothe painful and sore joints.

If your dog is young, ask your veterinarian to prevent arthritis surgeries from correcting genetic, development, and traumatic arthritis cases.

If you’re a proud owner of a senior dog, ask your vet about resolving arthritis procedures to remove the joint surface, causing pain, or the painful joint itself.

Pain Medication For Dogs Diagnosed With Arthritis

If you've received an arthritis diagnosis from your veterinarian, it's time to consider pain medication for dogs.

Like in humans, this condition causes pain in the bone surfaces and restricts their range of motion, and the same goes for your fluffy friend.

So, pain medication for dogs is key to improving their overall quality of life. Arthritis pain usually circulates the hind legs and hip joints.

The first line of defense for treating dogs suffering from arthritis in their hips is typically a prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs.

Consult your veterinarian if they haven't discussed this option with you yet.

Pain Management For Osteoarthritis In Dogs

However, if your pup has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, this requires a different treatment.

Treating osteoarthritis in dogs calls for Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

This is the most popular course of action and pain medication for dogs with this particular progressive joint condition.

It is considered very safe and carries minimum side effects for your pup.

Targeting painful joints and stiffness, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate are potent and effective supplements that help maintain dogs' cartilage structure.

With the ability to slow down the joints' damage, giving your dog, these supplements will reduce pain in the long run.

Home Care For Dogs That Have Arthritis

Here are some simple home care tips for treating a dog with arthritis or osteoarthritis. 

1: Help your dog manage their weight. 

Your pup’s body weight plays a key role in pain management and treating arthritis at home.

For dogs with arthritis in their hips, elbow joints, or hind legs, try to help them reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Any additional weight and pressure from excess pounds will cause more stress on their hips and sore joints, which means more pain and discomfort for your pup.

2: Give your dog fish oil supplements. 

Research has found that Eicosapentaenoic acid, more commonly known as omega-3 fatty acids, can effectively treat arthritis in dogs and chronic kidney disease.

Fish oil supplements can be easily added to your dog’s diet and reduce inflammation and pain. 

3: Physical therapy for treating arthritis.

Physical therapy such as underwater treadmills, ultrasound therapy, and even electric stimulation can help dogs with arthritis in their hips and hind legs.

These holistic treatments will help your pup stretch out their limbs, increase their range of motion, maintain joint health, and develop strong muscles. 

4: Make your dog comfortable. 

Whether your dog has arthritis or they’re suffering from osteoarthritis, these painful joint conditions can make sitting and sleeping difficult.

So, a great way to make your pup feel more comfortable while at home is by investing in a high-quality orthopedic dog bed.

Specially designed to support your dog’s painful joints and hips, at Bobby Bed, we work hard to make dogs feel snug, cozy, and pain-free while taking a nap or sleeping at night.

Feel free to browse our online collection of orthopedic dog beds online now.

If you’d like more information on treating arthritis in dogs, or caring for a pup with painful joints, feel free to read our related articles on canine hip dysplasia. 

Finally you might also find this post about how to help a dog with hip dysplasia  or this one about how to help a dog with arthritis at home useful.

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