Arthritis In Dogs: Common Symptoms And Treatment Options
According to Dog Quality, approximately 16 to 20 million dogs in North America are suffering from arthritis. If your once spry and active dog is beginning to slow down, or worse, acts as though they are in pain, they might be suffering from the very common stiffness and achy joints associated with arthritis. Here are a few of the most common signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs, and what you can do as a caring pet owner to help your beloved canine find relief:
Lethargy and Irritability
If your dog seems to be tired all the time and isn't their usual, happy self, arthritis might be the culprit. Arthritis attacks your dog's joints and causes painful swelling and irritation. If your dog doesn't seem to be as interested in long walks or if they sleep more throughout the day, the issue might be arthritis.
Additionally, the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis can often make your dog irritable. Dogs that are suffering with arthritis will often snap, bark, or even bite anyone who is petting or handling them. This mild aggression is a sign that they are in pain, and any contact with their arthritic joints is causing more discomfort.
If your dog is snapping, growling, or barking whenever you try to pet them, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian immediately. The issue might be arthritis or another painful ailment. Either way, it is important that you pinpoint the cause of your dog's sudden aggression and locate a treatment for the ailment.
Limping and Trouble Getting Around
Another common sign that your dog is suffering from arthritis is a telltale limp or stiffness, especially while they are trying to get up from lying down. Just like a human, your dog's arthritis will cause stiff joints, and this will manifest as shaking, limping, or simply trouble getting around like they used to.
Dogs who suffer from arthritis will often also shift their position several times when they lie down. This simply means your dog is trying to find a comfortable spot that will not irritate their arthritic joints.
Constant Licking and Chewing
When a dog is in pain or distress, they will often begin licking or biting at the area that is bothering them. If your dog has ever had a wound or sore, you might have noticed that they would constantly lick or bite at the area. The same is true of arthritis, and if your dog begins licking, chewing, or biting at their limbs, the issue could be arthritis.
In many cases, the biting and chewing can become so destructive that bald spots and open wounds will occur. If your dog gets to this point, it is vital to take them to the veterinarian immediately. If the issue isn't arthritis, it could be something more serious, such as a parasitic infection or an injury.
Arthritis Treatment Options
Luckily, if your dog is suffering with arthritis, there are several treatment options available. For example, providing your dog with a comfortable padded bed and a spot that is away from cold air are two simple ways to help relieve their symptoms. The cold will often exacerbate your dog's symptoms. Additionally, your veterinarian might recommend massaging your dog's arthritic limbs. This massage will help ease your dog's pain, while also increasing blood flow to the area.
Your veterinarian might also recommend giving your dog supplements, such as glucosamine or chondroitin, both of which are natural ways to promote joint health and flexibility. In more extreme cases, your veterinarian might suggest a prescription medication called polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. The medication is injected into your dog's joints and is highly effective, even in older dogs.
Arthritis is a common ailment in both humans and dogs. If you notice a combination of the above-mentioned symptoms, don't hesitate to contact a veterinarian at a location such as the Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital. The sooner you seek a diagnosis and treatment for your dog, the faster they can find relief.