Arthritis in dogs is surprisingly common, with as many as one in five dogs reportedly suffering from the condition. And although arthritis is one of the most common ailments seen in middle-aged and older dogs, it can also affect younger animals too.
Arthritis can be painful and debilitating and if left untreated it can significantly affect your pet's quality of life.
How can I tell if my dog has arthritis?
As a pet owner you will often be best placed to notice subtle changes in your pet but the symptoms of arthritis and stiff joints can sometimes be difficult to spot – here are 7 of the most common signs to look out for.
Difficulty getting up from rest
You may find that your dog seems stiffer when getting up from rest and that any difficulty moving around seems to ease once they have warmed up.
Limping or lameness
Your dog might develop a limp or start favouring one leg over the other.
Pets suffering with arthritis may also develop muscle atrophy due to lower levels of activity and decreased muscle use. Look out for thinner muscles and signs of weight loss.
Your usually active dog might seem to be more tired, preferring to rest or taking shorter walks than usual.
Licking or chewing of joints
You may notice your pet licking the affected joints to try and relieve the pain. Sometimes this can result in inflamed skin and hair loss in those areas.
Reluctance to move as much
Perhaps your dog isn’t so keen on jumping into the car these days or doesn't want to go on long walks like it used to. These changes in behaviour could signal pain and discomfort due to arthritis.
A dog with arthritis may become more snappy when handled, particularly if it affects the affected areas.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis tends to affect older animals but it can also develop from an early age. It can be caused by a number of factors, including trauma, poor nutrition, age, obesity, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, infection in the joint or congenital joint disorders like elbow dysplasia.