According to CARE (Canine Arthritis Resources and Education), arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs. At least 1 out of 5 dogs suffers from arthritis at any point in their lives. But what exactly is arthritis in dogs? To put it in simple words, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes a lot of pain, discomfort, and stiffness. It can affect primarily the legs, hips, shoulders, elbows, and knees.
Arthritis usually appears in old dogs, but it can also develop in an early stage as well and affect younger dogs. There are certain breeds more prone than others to develop this disease, such as Labrador and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc.; however, any dog who suffers from obesity is at a higher risk of developing this disease.
6 Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
1. Reluctant to move/Lethargic: If you notice your dog shows reluctance to move, and he starts to have difficulties posturing to urinate, he may be experiencing severe pain.
2. Difficulty climbing the stairs: This is one of the clearest signs that something is not right. Even though this difficulty can be related to ailments resulting from their age, it is also an important sign of arthritis.
3. Whines when he is touched: Arthritis in dogs can be extremely painful, so it’s very natural for them to yelp while your pet them around their hips or joints.
4. Spends long periods lying on the floor: It is very common for a dog with arthritis to spend a lot of time lying on the floor. Why? Simply because getting up requires a big effort and it’s usually very painful.
5. Limps when he walks: Severe pain can affect your dog’s mobility, so it’s very common to watch him hobble or limp. It is also usual for dogs to show discomfort in one particular area or limb, so arthritis might be confused with a bump or an injury.
6. Change his behavior/personality: dogs who are in pain usually choose to be alone since they don’t want to be disturbed. It is very common for you to notice that he is now aloof and a bit irritable as well. Besides, he will probably show reluctance to go on walks, leave the house, etc.
If your dog is suffering from at least two of these symptoms, you should take him to the vet for a full evaluation. Usually, dogs are diagnosed with arthritis through a physical examination, but it may require an x-ray and a blood test to rule out any other condition.
Arthritis can be found in 20% of dogs that are less than one year, and in 80% of dogs that are over 8 years. Therefore, even though in our minds we relate arthritis to senior dogs, that is not always the case. We should pay attention if our dogs present symptoms no matter their age.
Treatments for Arthritis in dogs
First of all, if you suspect your dog is suffering from arthritis, you should take him to the vet for a close check-up. He/she will run some tests and will decide if your dog is eligible for arthritis medication (NSAIDs: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Never administrate meds to your dog unless they are indicated by your vet.
However, there are a few things you can do at home to improve your dog’s quality of life and make arthritis in dogs better.
Dog supplements for Hip and Joint Support: Providing your dog with a dietary supplement with anti-inflammatory effects will make a significant difference in your dog’s situation. Mokai’s Advanced Hemp Mobility improves mobility and flexibility, reduces pain and increases comfort. Besides, it strengthens the immune system and provides the required nutrients to build healthy joint cartilage. You can read more in our blog Benefits of Glucosamine.
Moderated exercise: Walks for a dog with arthritis need to be specifically planned. Don’t let your pup jump, or play fetch. Exercise needs to be moderated (always follow your vet’s recommendations), but can’t be null, since movement is essential to avoid stiffness and alleviate pain.
Balanced diet: As we’ve already discussed, dogs with obesity are more prone to develop arthritis or any other joint disease. That is why having him on a balanced diet to keep him slim is essential: Calcium, Vitamin D, and phosphorus are key vitamins for your pet’s health. Mokai’s Daily-Multi Vitamins has all the nutrients and dog vitamins your pet needs to keep him fit and healthy.
- Well-padded bed: Imagine feeling a terrible backache and having to lay down on a stiff rigid surface: it will only make it worse. In order to alleviate your pup’s discomfort, he needs to be comfy. Make sure to provide a well-padded and supportive fluffy bed for him to rest properly.