Dogs are susceptible to old age, injury, and disease as much as humans are. You might not be able to tell your dog is in pain because of their joyful and loving nature. But most breeds of canine are predisposed to the development of arthritis and joint pain in their lifetime.
The signs of arthritis are not always easy to spot, though. Most symptoms tend to overlap with those of other diseases and infections, but with enough knowledge, you should be able to tell the difference.
So, how do you know if your dog is suffering from joint pain, caused by arthritis? Learn all the signs in this blog.
How is Arthritis Caused in Dogs?
Much like humans, the development of ailments such as arthritis is often attributed to age. This means that middle-age and older dogs are most susceptible to arthritis. While a good diet, exercise, and even joint supplements for dogs can help keep arthritis at bay, it’s largely down to breed and genetics.
Arthritis is known as a degenerative joint disease (DJD) and causes changes within certain joints throughout a dog’s body. The cartilage between the joints wears down, causing friction between the bones.
This constant friction results in pain, which is responsible for many of the symptoms that go hand-in-hand with canine arthritis. The friction of arthritis also encourages new bone growth, which causes painful bone spurs. This causes the joints to become even stiffer.
These factors can also make your dog all-the-more susceptible to developing arthritis:
- The breed and size of your dog
- If your dog is overweight
- Suffering previous trauma, especially joint injury
- Inherited joint abnormalities, such as hip dysplasia
- Bacterial infection
Arthritis amongst our furry friends is common, at 4 out of 5 dogs suffering from this disease. Osteoarthritis is also common amongst dogs and is characterized by arthritis in multiple joints at one time. Some of the most affected areas include the hips, lower back, knees, wrists, and elbows.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Suffering From Arthritis? 9 Common Signs
Arthritis is a painful degenerative condition to live with, whether you’re human or a canine. Some of the most obvious tell-tale signs include emotional withdrawal and changes in character, as well as these other symptoms:
1. Intermittent Limping
Your dog may not limp all the time, but intermittently and when performing certain activities, especially after just standing up. They may also favor one side of their body more than another while walking. As the joints become stiffer over time, you may notice that limping becomes more and more common. Regular arthritic exercises can help with this.
2. An Obvious Change in Posture
This is especially common in dogs suffering from arthritis in the lower back. You may seem them walking with bent hind legs, or a sagging lower back to avoid pain.
3. Your Dog Has Started to Gain Weight For No Reason
If you notice that your dog has started to gain weight, even if they’re being fed the same thing, this points to a lack of activity. This inactivity is often attributed to the effects of arthritis, such as pain, stiffness, and immobility.
Naturally, this can result in weight gain. This is where a carefully controlled diet plan is key.
4. Your Dog Seems Overly Lethargic or Fatigued
Due to pain levels and a lack of exercise, this can lead to your pup becoming all-the-more lethargic. As the saying goes ”the less you do, the less you want to do”.
An increase in resting and can lead to a lack of energy, making your dog appear more tired than usual. This could be a direct result of arthritic pain and tension.
5. They Appear Stiff and Immobile
If you notice your dog struggles to stand up after long periods of lying down, this is sure-fire symptoms of joint pain and muscular stiffness. The same goes for immobility when climbing stairs, sitting down, or jumping. All of this could be caused by restrictions due to arthritic pain.
6. An Obvious Loss in Muscle Mass
Also known as muscle atrophy, this is a common sign of arthritis and joint point. A reduction in physical activity can lead to the wasting or atrophying of muscle. This is far more common and noticeable in larger dogs because, naturally, they have a larger muscle mass.
You may also notice your dog favoring their front legs while walking, which could be a result of severe muscle loss in their hind legs.
7. Major Changes in Appetite
A change in appetite in dogs can be attributed to so many different things. It could be due to a viral infection or age. But a major loss in appetite is also commonly caused by distress, which is caused by pain.
If your canine is just not wolfing down their food as they usually do, this is a sign that they are distracted and distressed.
8. Significant Changes in Demeanor and Temperament
If your dog has never been irritable, snappy, or grumpy before, this is a sign they could be struggling with constant pain. This distress translates as irritability when being petted, especially in painful arthritic areas.
Your dog may also become increasingly aggressive towards other pets and humans.
9. A Change in Toilet Habits
If your dog has begun randomly soiling the house when they haven’t done so since they were a pup, this is another sign something is wrong.
Chronic pain, stiffness, and immobility are generally to blame for these indoor accidents. Basically, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to reach the outdoors in time and soiling accidents can become commonplace.
How Healthy and Happy is Your Pet?
How do you know if your dog is suffering — whether it’s an infection, joint pain, or something else? The key is to get to know their behaviors and take note whenever they change, even if it’s minor. If you believe your pet is suffering in some way, don’t wait until it gets worse. Visit your local veterinarian right away.
If you’re a pet owner and want to learn more about how to give them the healthiest, happiest life in your home, don’t miss out on the rest of this website for more. We offer articles on a range of pet advice topics, so explore as you please!