News and Media

Important things to know about canine arthritis

September 30, 2012

Canine arthritis is the most common form of chronic pain in dogs. One of every five adult dogs age 1 and older feels the pain of canine arthritis. Canine arthritis is a progressive disease that is painful at every stage. How do you know if your dog is affected? Initial signs of pain may be very subtle, but your dog may be telling you he is suffering from arthritis pain if he or she:

  • • Tires easily on walks
  • • Limps, lags behind or appears stiff after activity
  • • Is reluctant to climb steps or jump up
  • • Is slow to rise from a resting position

EARLY STAGES

  • • Painful flare-ups are common
  • • There may experience discomfort with joint movement
  • • There may be some occasional limping
  • • Subtle changes in walk

MID

  • • Painful joint movements
  • • Persistent limping
  • • Visible changes in walk
  • • Difficulty rising
  • • Sore after exercise

LATE

  • • Significant and constant pain
  • • Marked limping
  • • Pronounced changes in walk
  • • May need assistance to rise
  • • Restricted range of motion
  • • Muscle atrophy

One in every five adult dogs (1 year and older) suffers from canine arthritis. Half of dogs older than 7 years have arthritis.

Any dog can have arthritis irrespective of age, size and breed however, those most at risk are senior dogs (age 7 and older), large breeds and overweight dogs, very active dogs (such as competition, working or hunting dogs), and those with inherited joint abnormalities such as elbow or hip dysplasia.

Pet owners frequently assume arthritis is part of normal aging. Also, since by nature dogs hide their pain, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell if our pets are suffering from arthritis. Because of these reasons, more than half of all dogs with osteoarthritis remain untreated because their owners often don’t recognize the signs of the disease.

It’s important for pet owners to understand and pay attention to the signs of arthritis pain as initial signs may be very subtle. Affected dogs may tire easily on walks; limp, lag behind or appear stiff after activity; be reluctant to climb steps or jump up; or be slow to rise from a resting position.

If you notice any changes in behavior that may suggest pain, ask your veterinarian to give your dog an osteoarthritis exam. Arthritis can’t be cured, but the pain can be treated with prescription medications. Untreated arthritis pain can lead to weight loss, aggression, self-mutilation and heightened sensitivity to pain.

If you have any concerns that your pet may be suffering from Canine Arthritis please contact your Veterinarian.