Arthritis is common in dogs, with as many as one out of every five animals suffering from the disease. Typically seen in middle aged to senior dogs, it can often be misunderstood as normal aging. However, arthritis is not necessarily part of the aging process. If you notice any of the signs of arthritis in your dog, schedule a visit to your veterinarian to get her checked out. If your veterinarian determines that your dog does have arthritis, there are several things you can do to help ease her pain.
What to Watch For
If your dog has a limp, especially one that worsens after time spent laying down that improves after movement, arthritis may be to blame. The characteristic joint stiffness caused by arthritis can make it painful for your dog to walk. The stiffness is exacerbated by long stretches of being still and then lessened by movement that warms up the joint.
Your dog may suddenly be reluctant to move in ways she once moved with ease. If you are inviting your dog up on the couch, and instead of immediately taking you up on your offer she paces around in front of you a bit or ignores you altogether, she may be suffering from arthritis. The pain caused by inflammation in the joints can make previously easy tasks, like hopping up onto a couch or bed, or going for a ride in the car, feel impossible.
If your once energetic dog is now sleepier, it may be because arthritis pain is wearing her out. Getting tired out sooner on walks or during play time and not looking to play or exercise as much are common signs that your dog may be dealing with pain.
Dogs will often lick or chew on their painful parts in an attempt to soothe their discomfort. If you notice that your dog is doing this a lot more than previously, make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out arthritis. And keep on eye out to make sure that your dog doesn’t accidentally make matters worse by cutting herself or causing an infection.
When a dog is in pain, she will often display some signs of aggression. Because she is uncomfortable, she will want to be left alone. Even gentle petting may cause her pain and make her lash out. Newly emerged aggressive behaviors should be checked out by a veterinarian to rule out pain as a trigger for the behavior.
What You Can Do
The first line of defense against the pain of arthritis is prevention through the lifelong use of a healthy diet and supplements. Foods and vitamins that contain the right amounts and combinations of anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and Omega fatty acids can help ease some of your dog’s suffering. Adding Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), Turmeric, and Calcium Carbonate can be very effective in easing stress on joints and maintaining strong and healthy cartilage.
If you suspect arthritis, take your dog to your veterinarian for testing. If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with arthritis, then she will work to come up with a treatment plan specific to your dog’s needs. While arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed, and pain can be minimized.
Medication may be considered if the pain is severe and significantly interfering with your dog’s quality of life. Your veterinarian will need to determine if your dog is a candidate for medication and how much and what type of medication you can safely give to your dog.
Alternative treatments should also be considered, including CBD oil, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Each of these treatments should be discussed with your veterinarian in relation to the specific needs of your dog to ensure safety and efficacy.
Arthritis is common but suffering from the pain of arthritis doesn’t have to be. Keep an eye on your dog so that you can spot any signs of arthritis early and get to your veterinarian as soon as possible to get the best chance at effective treatment options for your dog.