9 Signs Your Dog Has Arthritis

That limp 😢

dog arthritis symptoms

Arthritis is no fun for your pup. But in order to make your arthritic BFF happy, healthy and comfortable, you have to know how to identify whether or not he actually has the disease.

The trick is to look out for the main signs of arthritis in dogs, and book an appointment with your vet if you notice anything that fits the bill.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian with Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California, who shared some common dog arthritis symptoms.

What’s arthritis in dogs?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that affects your dog’s joints, causing inflammation, pain and mobility issues.

When your dog has arthritis, the articular cartilage that covers the ends of his bones gets damaged.

Articular cartilage exists so the joints can bend smoothly, but when it’s damaged or degenerating, your pup’s bones could come into direct contact with each other — which is super painful for him.

“As the body tries to compensate for joint instability and inflammation, malformation of the joint [and] bones can take place, leading to pain and discomfort,” Dr. Cruz told The Dodo.

There are a few different ways your dog can get arthritis, resulting in different forms of the disease.

“It could be septic (secondary to an infection in the joint), immune-mediated (the body recognizes the material that composes the joint to be foreign and mounts an immune/inflammatory response), caused by a neoplastic condition (cancer, following joint trauma such as a torn ligament in the knee), and then the degeneration that occurs from wear and tear on the joints with age,” Dr. Cruz said.

Does my dog have arthritis?

Arthritis is a common disease in dogs and is particularly prominent in older dogs. Some dogs can even start experiencing symptoms from a young age, but you might not notice them until they’re older.

“Younger dogs that are more physically fit [or] not overweight can often tolerate more advanced cases of OA (osteoarthritis) than older, out of condition, overweight pets because the muscles of the affected joint help to stabilize the joint and compensate,” Dr. Cruz said. “As the pet ages and the muscles weaken, the signs often seem to suddenly appear. In reality, the pet is just decompensating.”

Signs of arthritis in dogs

If your dog has arthritis, he might show symptoms like:

  • Lameness
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Rising slowly
  • Reluctance towards going on walks
  • Reluctance towards running, jumping or playing
  • Sensitivity (or even aggressiveness) when the affected area is touched
  • Weight gain (due to reluctance towards exercise)
  • Loss of muscle mass in affected limb

A lot of these symptoms can indicate other issues, though, so you’re going to want to check in with your vet to confirm that your dog actually has arthritis.

“In the hands of a veterinarian who is allowed to fully examine a pet, the diagnosis is rarely missed,” Dr. Cruz said.

Dog arthritis treatment

There are several things you can do for dog arthritis treatment, like helping your dog manage his weight (or lose weight, in some cases) and getting prescription medication for him after consulting your vet.

You can also look into multimodal treatment options, too, which include things like:

  • Cold laser therapy
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Chondro-protective injections (like Adequan)
  • Rehabilitation

Lifestyle adjustments are also a great way to help your dog out at home if he’s struggling with arthritis.

That can include investing in things like:

If you notice any arthritis symptoms in your dog, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet so you can get started on treatment that’ll ease his pain and help him live a happy life.

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