Arthritis is a joint disease that affects about 80% of dogs- in simple terms; it can also be defined as inflammation or abnormal changes in the joints.
While we may think arthritis mostly affects senior dogs, it is not the case.
Sometimes, even younger dogs are affected by arthritis, but the symptoms are not visible until later on.
The bone surfaces within the dog’s joints are usually covered by cartilage. In arthritic dogs, this cartilage is damaged which results in friction during movement (when the bone surfaces rub together). Because of this, there is formation of new bones which makes the joints even stiffer.
Due to the inflammation, a dog affected by arthritis goes through extreme physical pain.
Causes of Arthritis in Dogs:
Before we explore the symptoms of arthritis in dogs, it is important we understand the causes of arthritis.
Arthritis may primarily be hereditary but, it is also caused due to developmental disorders, trauma, injury or stress on the cartilage or joints and also aging. In a lot of cases, obesity also leads to arthritis.
So how will you know if your dog has arthritis or not?
Well, here are certain symptoms that will help to define if your dog arthritis or not.
The first and foremost sign of arthritis is that your dog will start limping. The inflammation causes pain in the affected limbs, causing the dog to be more dependent on the other one.
Your dog will find it extremely difficult to move about and the tasks which seemed easier before will seem to be very difficult for him to finally complete.
Things like walking up the stairs or jumping around will become slow and painful for your dog and you will see the eventual change in his movement.
The restricted movement often leads to a gain in weight in the dog.
The spine may also be affected by arthritis, leading to a bad posture in dogs- like a hunch.
Due to the changes in the spine, the affected dog may have a sore neck and lameness in the legs is also noticeable.
Due to the pain, most dogs become depressed, and there are significant changes in their behavior such as lack of appetite, irritability, snappy behavior and disinterest in carrying out normal tasks.
They may also become less social and they tend to forget their training and behavior.
Due to the arthritic condition, dogs often develop the condition of muscle atrophy where the tissues of the muscles gradually die as a result of which their legs become thin with time.
They Get Tired Easily:
Dogs affected by arthritis become excessively tired and they take long periods of rest and sleep.
Their levels of activity decline drastically. For example, the dog will not be able to walk as much as before and even very simple to moderate exercises may put high levels of strain on him. And after a certain amount of workout, stiffness will also be noticed in.
Become More Lethargic:
Arthritic dogs also become very lethargic and sleep or lie down more than usual. They are usually very agitated and often look for a position that is comfortable for them.
For example, they may be uncomfortable sitting at one position for a long period of time and you will see them constantly move to get just to find the right position – which will be less painful for them.
They Become Aggressive:
Dogs also tend to feel excessive pain if their joints are touched and they may become extremely aggressive due to the pain.
They might also begin to lick or bite their own body parts because of the pain in an attempt to get some relief. Unfortunately, this leads to more harm than good.
At first, dog owners may notice only a few of these symptoms as the disease gradually progresses, the symptoms will become far more prominent.
How to Help your Arthritic Dog?
As pet parents, it does hurt us when our beloved pets are in pain and we do try to give them the very best of care at all times.
If you have an arthritic dog, there are a couple of things that you can do in order to make sure that he is comfortable.
- Firstly, though it may seem to be painful for your dog, take your dog out for light exercises regularly. You can begin slowly as you allow your dog’s pained joints to slowly get used to the movements and take them for small walks that will be gentle on them.
- Secondly, make sure that you provide a very comfortable bed for your dog that supports his orthopedic health. Make sure the bed is soft, padded and warm. Around your house- you can also build ramps for your dog so that he does not slip and fall.
- Thirdly, the most important thing that you can do for your dog is give him the right diet because, proper nutrition is vital to maintain a good quality of life in dogs. Make sure to give your arthritic dog a diet that is rich in fish oils (Omega fatty acids), Vitamin E and Vitamin C. Also consider adding supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin to your dog’s meals.
- In addition, you can also give your dog celery, mangoes and papayas as they are all very good for arthritic dogs.
On the other hand, there are a lot of food that increase the inflammation occurring due to arthritis such as potatoes, grains and peppers. It is important to avoid giving your arthritic dog these kinds of food.
Along with all these, you can also sometimes give massages and warm compress to your dog. The heat here will relieve your dog’s aching joints.
With all that being said, we have laid it all out for you a brief guide to the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
We hope you found this article useful. If your dog displays the symptoms that are mentioned, make sure to consult with your vet and find the right treatment for him.
Besides following the vet recommended treatment, and the basic steps mentioned in this article, regularly takes your dog for Wellness Checkups.
After all, for their unwavering love and loyalty, our pets deserve the very best of our love and care.
About the Author
This is a guest post contributed by Nasifa Sultan. She is a content writer at Feedfond. Writing about dogs and sharing her very person experience with dogs to the internet is one of her passions – This article is no difference.
More of her writings can be found at Feedfond.