It can be hard to watch our beloved pets go from puppies to senior dogs, especially if they start to develop health conditions along the way. One of the most common health conditions facing senior dogs is arthritis and other mobility issues. It’s normal for dogs to become less active with age. If your dog is unwilling or unable to move, however, then there is likely a more serious issue that needs to be treated and managed.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about mobility and arthritis in older dogs, as well as how to minimize the problem so that your dog can have the best life possible!
What Is Arthritis In Dogs?
Arthritis is a general term given to joint issues and damage in dogs. These issues can occur due to birth defects, excessive stress and strain on joints, weight gain, age, infections, and occasionally, immune system disorders. A dog’s joint is made up of two bones that meet one another, held together by ligaments. To keep the bones from scraping against one another, there is a layer of soft, smooth cartilage between them.
In a normal, healthy dog, this cartilage allows the two bones to work together, helping your dog run and jump like normal. When this cartilage begins to wear down, however, they don’t provide the necessary amount of cushion required for regular mobility. Even though arthritis is used a lot to describe this condition, it doesn’t necessarily accurately represent the cause of the issue. All arthritis means is that the cartilage in your dog’s joints is breaking down.
This breakdown can occur from excessive stress on joints, like regular and intense exercise. Sometimes your dog will become sick, and a side effect of the sickness is damage to their joints. Other times they are born with defects that cause the joints to wear out the cartilage faster. While arthritis doesn’t prevent your dog from being able to move, it can make it extremely painful for them. As a result, dogs with arthritis are likely to lay around and move less than they used to.
Why Do Older Dogs Get Arthritis and Mobility Issues?
Any dog can develop arthritis and other mobility issues, though it is much, much more common in aging pets. The reason is that it takes a significant amount of stress to break down the cartilage in your pet’s joints. This kind of damage really can’t happen overnight. Instead, it takes years and years for the damage to become severe enough to be labeled as arthritis.
Examples of things that can cause damage to your dog’s joints over the long term are weight gain and birth defects. A slightly misaligned joint or a few extra pounds won’t give your dog arthritis in a week, or even in a few months. But over several years of their life, these kinds of issues will wear down their cartilage. So it’s not necessarily your pet’s age that causes arthritis and mobility issues, but rather how long it takes for these problems to reveal their damage.
Aging, in general, will have a negative impact on your dog’s health and their ability to be mobile. As your pet ages and the cells in their body begin to regenerate slower and slower, all of the various aspects of their health will lose the vitality of their youth. Mobility is just one of the most obvious effects of the aging process.
How Arthritis Affects Your Dog’s Mobility
Arthritis affects your dog’s mobility by making it painful for them to move around. Once the cartilage wears away, there is less cushion protecting the two bones of a joint from bumping and scraping against one another. As you would imagine, this is a pretty painful occurrence. So even though your dog can technically move the same as they used to be able to, the pain associated with moving can become intense enough that your pet chooses simply not to move.
Not all dogs with arthritis will stop moving altogether. Some may just be less active and less prone to running and playing. Every dog’s arthritis takes effect for a different reason and has a different level of severity. Your pet’s ability to move will depend on their ability to tolerate pain and the amount of pain they are actually in. These things can both be difficult to gauge as a pet owner since your dog doesn’t have an easy way to communicate this to you.