Did you know that dog arthritis affects roughly 20% of dogs? Maybe even more. And while you might thing it’s a senior dog disease, it turns out it can affect some dogs as young as one year old!
Arthritis of course, is joint inflammation and when the joints are swollen, they hurt. They can also be stiff which is sometimes evident in dogs that are slow getting up from a resting position. Arthritis can come in many forms and some dogs inherit it.
In this post, we’ll briefly cover common symptoms and treatments as well as ideas for preventing painful dog arthritis.
Common Symptoms of Arthritis
If your dog seems to be “slowing down,” that could be a signal that their joints hurt. Arthritis is a painful condition. It can also come and go or seem worse at certain times which if you also have arthritis, you may have experienced.
Typical symptoms include:
- Reluctance to go for walks or participate in other activities that were once fun
- Difficulty going up and down stairs
- Difficulty getting in and out of the car
- Slow moving when getting up from a nap
- Licking joints
- Heat from joints (Feeling warmer than rest of body)
- Irritability and/or loss of appetite
It’s easy to dismiss these symptoms as “getting old” but they can show up in younger pups too. Even as young as 1 or 2 – especially, in larger breeds. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, your veterinarian can help evaluate.
What Causes Dog Arthritis?
As mentioned above, some breeds inherit arthritis. German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands are some dog breeds who frequently show signs of arthritis early on.
Yet, any dog can develop it some of the causes include:
- Injury due to an accident
- Cushing’s Disease
- Tick-borne disease
- Joint stress (as you might find in working dogs)
What Kind of Dog Arthritis Treatments Can Help?
If your dog has arthritis, your veterinarian will probably advise a new diet. For example, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help since they’re pack a double whammy with Vitamin D and are anti-inflammatories. Both offer joint support.
The ASPCA recommends daily walks which may seem counterintuitive. But it’s good to keep the joints moving because otherwise they’ll get stiffer. You may have seen this in your own body, where gentle exercise helps you limber up and feel more mobile.
Additionally, exercise helps keep the weight down and having extra weight makes arthritis worse. Besides, walks give your dog needed mental stimulation. Veterinarians recommend shorter and more frequent walks instead of long ones.
If you have a water loving dog (and a place to swim) that can also improve your pet’s mobility and endurance. There are even hydrotherapy options available for dogs in some areas. You can ask your veterinarian.
Also, doggie ramps for stairs and car entry reduces the range of motion needed and that can make it easier. A cushioned bed will also help support stiff joints. Your veterinarian may recommend using a heating pad too or one of those pillows that you heat in the microwave. Just supervise your dog when using such forms of heat so that you can move it if gets uncomfortable.
Massage, acupuncture, and our arnica gel are also helpful in pain reduction.
Can You Prevent Dog Arthritis?
It’s tough to prevent arthritis but you can take a proactive approach. It starts with the basics of high-quality food, exercise, and regular veterinary visits.
If your dog is prone to arthritis and likes water, if you can find a regular swimming outlet, that will help your dog stay active without hurting his joints.
Once a dog has arthritis, there is no cure. Rather it’s finding a way to manage the pain. If you suspect your dog has arthritis, talk with your veterinarian to create a treatment plan.