Did you know that around 25% of dogs are diagnosed with arthritis in their lifetime? Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is a joint disease that deteriorates the joints irreversibly.
Arthritis in dogs is common and can happen because of a number of factors. But how do you know when your dog is showing signs of arthritis and how can you treat it?
Read on to learn the answers to your questions and much more with our comprehensive guide.
Signs of Arthritis in Dogs
“How do I know if my dog has arthritis pain?” is a common question many dog owners ask themselves. Understanding what arthritis is and what signs to look for will lead you to the answer.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and is common in dogs. This damage causes pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
The most common sign of arthritis in dogs is the inability to get up or lay down. Some, but not all, dogs will vocalize when they’re feeling pain. You’ll know your dog is in pain through other ways if they don’t vocalize it.
Some of the other signs you may notice in a dog with arthritis include:
- Unwilling to exercise
- Stiffness or lameness after resting for periods of time
- Worsening signs when damp or cold
- Licking the joints (saliva staining)
- Slower movement than usual (loss of stamina)
- Reluctance to walk up or down the stairs
- Inability to jump off of furniture
- Reluctance to have somebody parts touched
- Cracking and popping when the joint moves
- More accidents in the house
You may also see a mood change in your dog. Because they’re in pain, they’ll come off as grumpy and may have unexpected aggression towards you, other humans, or other dogs.
What Dogs Are Most Prone to Arthritis?
Generally, this condition is more common in older dogs, but it can happen to a dog at any point in their lifetime. Arthritis can develop at an early age in a dog with joint and bone development problems.
Most cases of arthritis in dogs occur because of abnormal rubbing of the joint. Depending on the cause of arthritis, one or more joints may be affected.
After ligament damage, your dog may struggle with joint instability that causes arthritis. Other causes that lead to the rubbing of the joint include damage to cartilage development or abnormal development.
Trauma, such as fractures, can also cause abnormal rubbing of the joint.
A dog’s build (body conformation) can also cause arthritis. This is one reason why large dog breeds are more prone to getting this condition like older dogs.
Arthritis in Older Dogs
When dogs age, the joints start thinning on the surface of the cartilage. Cartilage cells die and release enzymes causing inflammation in the joints. They also cause the release of excessive joint fluid.
Bony growths will begin to develop to combat this issue. As the cartilage begins to thin more, the bone beneath the cartilage will deteriorate.
The additional wear and tear of a dog’s joints as they age may cause them to have arthritis.
Arthritis in Large Breed Dogs
Large breed dogs are more likely to have poor conformation which can make them more likely to get arthritis. Bigger dog breeds like golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, and german shepherds fall into this category.
What Body Parts Can Arthritis Affect in Dogs?
A veterinarian may be able to tell which joints are affected by a pain and discomfort examination. This could be through joint flexion and extension.
It’s common for them to suggest more tests, like x-rays, to help confirm arthritis and locate where it is exactly. For some dogs, there may be an underlying cause. Often, blood samples are necessary to rule out other medical conditions.
Some conditions could be causing arthritis or contributing to the pain. Those conditions include: