As your dog ages, you can expect that he will start to develop certain conditions that are naturally associated with the aging process. One of the most common conditions that dogs develop as they grow older is osteoarthritis.
If you notice that your dog is having difficulty walking, running, or getting up after sitting or lying down; if he appears to be walking in an awkward manner, or if he is holding his paw up, as if in pain, it is likely that he is developing osteoarthritis.
What is Canine Osteoarthritis?
Canine osteoarthritis is a noninflammatory degenerative disease of the joints. This condition is characterized by the following:
- Degeneration of cartilage
- Boney proliferation, which results from bone-on-bone contact within, and/or around, the joints that are affected
- Changes to the synovial membranes
Degenerative joint disease is a common affliction of elderly pets. It can range from mild to moderate to severe. In mild cases, you may hear a cracking or a clicking sound when your pet moves his joints. In more severe cases, his joints may become so stiff that he is unable to use them properly.
How can You tell if Your Dog has Osteoarthritis?
There are definite signs that will indicate your pet has developed osteoarthritis. The most tell-tale sign is slowing down. If you notice that your pet is no longer able to run, walk or jump with the ease that he used to be able to, then the probability that he is developing osteoarthritis. Other signs that are clear indicators that your dog is afflicted with this condition include:
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- Trouble jumping onto higher levels, such as the couch, a bed, or into a car
- Difficulty maneuvering slick foors
What are the Symptoms of Canine Osteoarthritis?
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs depend on the severity of the condition. Symptoms of this degenerative joint disease can include one or more of the following:
- Stiff or rigid posturing
- A clicking or popping sound in the joints
- A reluctance to exercise
- Swollen, tender joints that may be warm to the touch
The severity of the symptoms will impact your pet in different ways. It may simply make walking a bit more difficult, or it could impact your dog’s overall quality of life.
Are all Dogs Prone to Osteoarthritis?
Yes, this degenerative joint disease is one that can affect all dogs. Predisposing factors include:
- Old age
- Traumatic injuries
- Birth defects
- Post-operative complications
It is more common in larger sizes, heavier dogs. Since they have more weight to carry, more pressure is placed on their joints, which directly impacts the health of their joints.
How to Handle Osteoarthritis in Your Dog
If your dog is exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms, there is a good chance that he is developing osteoarthritis. The first thing that you should do is schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. After a complete examination, your vet will be able to determine if symptoms are, in fact, the result of osteoarthritis.
Once diagnosed, you and your vet can determine the best course of action for treating osteoarthritis in your dog.