When you first adopt your dog as a puppy it can seem as though they have endless energy, constantly playing, running around, and showing no signs of slowing. Over the years, it’s only natural for them to start to slow down and lose that non-stop puppy playfulness. But how much of that change in behavior is due to a changing personality versus physical limitations? For large breed dogs in particular, as they hit their senior years it’s quite common for them to experience mobility issues thanks to the onset of arthritis.
So, how can you tell if your dog has arthritis, and what can you do to help them? Let’s take a closer look.
Top Signs of Arthritis
There are a number of signs that owners can be looking for that could point to arthritis in a dog. Remember age and breed are big factors, but they aren’t guaranteed. Just because your dog is young or a small breed, doesn’t mean they can’t develop arthritis in their joints. Also keep in mind that dogs don’t like to show any sign of pain or discomfort, so the signs aren’t always going to be obvious.
Some of the most common physical signs include a reluctance to go up and downstairs, jump, and play as much; lameness or limping when they walk; a change in their overall personality; they start walking much slower when you take them for a walk; they lick the joints that are bothering them; stiffness when getting up or trying to lay down; and even yelping if you touch a sensitive spot.
Of course, the best way to determine if your dog has arthritis is to take them to the vet for a check-up.
What to Do About Arthritis
Once it has been determined that your dog does have arthritis, the next step is to manage the pain and discomfort so that they can live as normal of a life as possible. Arthritis can range from relatively minor flare-ups here and there, to severe pain that affects them all the time. The severity of their arthritis will help to determine the best treatment path.
One of the best ways you can help to manage the pain is to start by making sure they aren’t overweight. Extra weight just puts more stress on the joints and muscles. You can then look at feeding them a diet that is meant for their health and age. Supplements can also be given, such as Elk Antler Velvet Supplements, which support joint flexibility and mobility. Depending on the severity of their arthritis, these two steps alone may be all that is needed.
It’s also important to keep them comfortable at home, not forcing them to go up and downstairs, jumping in and out of a car (use a dog ramp instead), and making sure they have a soft and supportive dog bed to relax in.
In more severe cases, veterinary treatments may be necessary that treat the pain and inflammation.
Keeping Your Dog Happy and Comfortable
Making sure you know the signs of arthritis to watch for means you’ll be able to recognize when your dog needs help, and what steps you can take.