This post is part 1 in our series on canine arthritis.
Many of us with big dogs have seen our dogs experience arthritis. But how many of us know how to identify arthritis symptoms in dogs? One of the best things we can do is recognize and treat it early, and knowing the symptoms is key.
Here are 6 symptoms to look out for.
Favoring a limb
If your dog is favoring a limb, it’s typically because of pain. Once you rule out other causes, like injury, a thorn in the foot, etc., then it may be arthritis. Watch your dog to see if he’s avoiding putting weight on a specific leg.
Watch for stiffness, particularly in the morning. Arthritis often causes early morning stiffness and aches that reduce as the day goes on. It may also be heightened in colder weather. If your dog is taking his time getting up in the morning, standing up more slowly and gingerly, it may be arthritis.
Like stiffness, soreness is greater in the morning. Your dog may show signs of pain when the affected joints are touched, like sudden reactions, snapping, or yelping.
Less interest in physical activities
Was fetch your dog’s favorite game, and now he’s not interested? It may be because running and jumping is painful. The same goes for climbing stairs and hopping up on the couch. Again, rule out other short-term causes of the pain. If your dog is also having trouble sitting or standing, it may be tied to arthritis.
Spending more time sleeping; less alertness
Laying down is more comfortable for a dog in pain than getting up and walking around. If you notice that your dog is spending more time sleeping and is generally less alert, it may be that pain is keeping him down.
As your dog reduces his physical activity, he will naturally gain more weight. It’s not a direct symptom, but related to other symptoms of arthritis. It’s always a good idea to watch your dog’s weight carefully, but since extra pounds make arthritis pain worse, this is something to pay close attention to.
If your dog shows these symptoms for more than a couple weeks, consult your vet. Your vet will be able to examine the joints and determine if the cause is arthritis or something else.
Knowing arthritis symptoms in dogs will help you identify your dog’s problem as quickly as possible. Early detection is the best way to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce pain, so you don’t want to miss them.
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Photo credit: Fred Rockwood