Arthritis doesn't discriminate; it doesn't care if you're human or canine, the effects are the same. There may come a time when you notice he just isn't as spry as he used to be, or has trouble getting up after laying down for a while. He may seem a bit grumpy when usually he's a very happy dog. These could be signs of arthritis. As a matter of fact, arthritis affects a whopping one in five adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common ailments veterinarians see.
Signs of arthritis in dogs
Since your dog can't tell you he hurts, it's up to you to figure it out. He gives off non-verbal signs that he's in pain or that something isn't right. Signs of arthritis include:
- Favoring a limb
- Trouble sitting or standing
- Excessive sleep
- Stiff or sore joints
- Hesitant to jump, run or climb stairs
- Gaining weight
- Less interest in play/decrease in activity
- Mood/behavior changes
- Being less alert
If you notice any of these symptoms for more than a week or so, take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis and to begin a treatment plan immediately. Arthritis in dogs is treated in much the same way it is treated in humans, and the sooner you seek help, the sooner his discomfort can be alleviated.
Your vet will use a physical exam and x-rays to make a definitive diagnosis of arthritis. Once that is done, a treatment plan will be put in place to help reduce the pain and swelling associated with arthritis and slow the progress of the disease. Treatment options may include:
- A healthy diet and exercise regimen to prevent weight gain
- Drug treatments to relieve pain and swelling
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Over-the-counter pills and food containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids
- Prescription NSAIDs combined with an over-the-counter treatment to decrease pain and slow disease progression
- Dog cooling pads to help decrease swelling and pain
Arthritis is one of the oldest diseases known to man. With diet and exercise, proper weight management, and an early diagnosis with a treatment plan, dogs with arthritis can live full, happy lives.