Important Point #1: It is imperative to first understand that many times the initial signs of arthritis are very subtle and quiet. With that being said if there is any question in your mind or if your dog is one of the many predisposed breeds, start supplements early in life.
Important Point #2: If you have any questions about whether or not your dogs has arthritis it is best to speak with your veterinarian and have X-Rays taken. The extra money spent on X-Rays is totally worth it. This way you know exactly what you are dealing with.
Important Point #3: Consider also having a tick borne disease test run depending on your geographic area.
The Most Common Misconception:
MISCONCEPTION: The most common misconception amongst pet owners is that since their dog does not cry they must not be in pain. WRONG!
FACT: Dogs do not show their pain like humans. No, that does not mean that they don’t feel pain because they definitely do. It is just that they are very rarely verbal about the pain they are experiencing, but they show it in many other ways.
The Slippery Slope of Dog Arthritis
Arthritis in dogs is not just black and white. The progression and symptoms are slow to show themselves until many times it is too late. AND there is way more to it than just the joints.
See the typical progression below:
- Lets say your dog experiences some degree of pain while doing normal activities such as getting up, climbing stairs etc.
- Because certain activities are uncomfortable than they being to avoid doing those things
- Because the body is not ask to do those things you dog slowly begins to loose muscle mass (ie.Muscle atrophy)
- Less muscle mass means less support of body weight by muscle and therefore more weight is carried on the skeletal system
- Remember the skeletal system ie. joint pain was the start of all of this.
- Now it is even more painful to get up and do things…..so therefore they lay down more
- The more inactivity there is the less muscle you have. The less muscle the less support.
- You get the point!
The key to this is to start early with the right joint supplements. It is best to use a joint supplement that incorporates natural anti-inflammatories in addition to chondroprotectants such as glucosamine and chondroitin. To read more about which is the best joint supplement for your dog click here.The Top 12 Clinical Signs for Dog Arthritis:
Many times people mistake that their dog slowing down as just a sign of age. This is not true. Most likely if you dog is slowing down they are suffering with some degree of chronic pain.
2. Sleeping More; Sleeping Longer in the Morning; Reluctant to Get Out of Bed
3. Closed Hind Leg Stance
If your dogs hips or knees are arthritic what you may see is that while at a stand still the back legs will be closer together. This can be very subtle. The reason for this is that by putting then closer together they can shift weight forward and use the hind legs together to just balance.
4. Wide Front Leg Stance
What you will see is that the elbows are pushed out and not kept under the dogs body giving the dog a wide stance in the front. Again this can be very subtle and also sometimes only seen on one side.
5. Bunny Hopping
Many times you pet owners will notice that when their dogs runs the two hind legs go together, almost like a rabbit. This can be many times be a tell tale sign in a young dog that they have hip dysplasia
6. Joint Licking
Sometimes if one particular joint is bothering your dog, they may begin to lick at it, to pacify the discomfort
7. Slow to get up
This is pretty self explanatory and probably the most common clinical sign noted by pet owners.
8. Reluctance to go on walks, walk less than normal
Often pet owners will notice that their dog is reluctant to go the usual distance. Of course most pet owners notice a trend and not just a one day, one time episode.
9. Avoiding Stairs, or jumping in car, or on beds, couches
Sometimes you can see that your dogs gait may be a little more stiff than usual.
Of course this is an obviously one. If your dog is limping on just one limb it would be definitely be a good idea to contact you veterinarian for an evaluation.
12. Muscle loss (Muscle Atrophy)
Its a good idea to every once in a while run you hands over your dogs body. It is best to do the right and the left at the same time so that you can compare. Everything should be symmetrical for the most part.