5 Major Signs of Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis is a very painful and frustrating disease for your pet. Unfortunately, it is also fairly common in dogs. While older dogs are the most likely to get arthritis, it is possible to develop in dogs of any age. Due to their own natural instincts, however, many pets will not show obvious signs of pain, making this discovery tricky for their owners.
That being said, there are a few symptoms to watch out for. If your dog starts displaying any of these 5 symptoms, it would be a good time to take him in for tests.
Limping or Stiffness
One of the most prominent and easy to identify signs of arthritis in your pet is limping. If arthritis is affecting one of his legs, you may find your pet favoring another as he walks. Sometimes the stiff leg is only noticeable after your dog had been lying down for a while, and it goes away after he moves around a little. It is still a crucial symptom to keep an eye out for; even if it is not arthritis, a limp can be the result of any number of problems that need to be cared for as soon as possible.
Dogs, like humans, lose a bit of their youthful energy as they grow older, so it is not unusual for a 10-year-old dog to be more lethargic than she was as a puppy. Unfortunately, constant fatigue like this is also a subtle side effect of arthritis. If a dog’s legs are painful, they will obviously be more reluctant to put pressure on those limbs, meaning fewer jumps, runs, and less playtime.
As we said before, animals do not have the ability to communicate when they are in pain. Some pets, however, resort to compensating for their pain by growing more defensive. This could result in anything from a small growl to dangerous bites. If your pet is suddenly very irritable, especially if you are petting close to a potentially painful limb, then a veterinarian check-up is probably in order.
Licking, Biting or Chewing
We have all had some sort of surface-level pain that drove us crazy. We would itch, scratch, bandage, apply ointment to, or hold an ice pack against it, just to stop the irritating sting. Dogs can not really do any of those things, so when they experience a constant pain, they try to relieve it the only ways they know how: licking, biting, or chewing on the spot. While this is also a telltale sign of ticks or all manner of other surface-level issues, it is also possible that they are trying to gnaw away the stiff pain of arthritis.
One of the most prominent physical signs of arthritis is muscle atrophy, which is when muscle tissue in the legs begins to die off due to inactivity. The result of muscle deterioration in the infected leg being noticeably smaller, thinner, and overall weaker than the others. Sometimes this also results in the affected paw being dragged instead of stood on, as well as the leg no longer being able to support the dog’s weight properly.
Whether your pet is developing arthritis or is being hindered by any other physical ailment, any change in behavior by your animal is something you will want to be aware of. It could be caused by many things other than sickness, but your pet’s health is worth more than guesswork. When in doubt, make an appointment at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital or call 301-983-8400 to make sure your pet is pain-free and healthy!