Lake Zurich Pet Owners: Does My Dog Have Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term describing joint pain or disease and is incredibly common among dogs. Osteoarthritis, or Degenerative Joint Disease, is the most often seen form. It can affect joints in the knees, elbows, back, shoulder and ankle.

It can range from mild to severe pain and because that pain can come and go, it is sometimes difficult to spot.

In this article, we’ll go over some common risk factors of arthritis in dogs and symptoms to look out for.

Risk Factors for Arthritis in Dogs

Your dog’s chances of developing arthritis increases if he has any of the following risk factors:

Obesity

The heavier your dog is, the more weight she is putting on her joints, which wears down the cartilage that serves as a buffer between the bones in her joints.

Age

Osteoarthritis is most common in older dogs, although there are other forms of arthritis that may affect younger pups.

Improper Nutrition

Some studies have suggested that a diet lacking in necessary oils and omega 3 fatty acids can increase a dog’s chances of having arthritis. These oils and fatty acids assist in lubricating the joints and play a role in joint tissue restoration.

Genetics

Sometimes arthritis is due to malformation of joints, which can be an inherited trait. Irresponsible or over-breeding contributes to genetically inherited arthritis, as well as other joint issues, such as hip dysplasia.

Injuries

If your dog has suffered any fractures or ligament tears, his odds of developing arthritis later are increased. Any damage to the bone, ligaments or joints can alter the formation of the joint, which can lead to deterioration of the cartilage.

Size

Larger breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Great Danes or Rottweilers, are more prone to developing arthritis for the same reason overweight dogs are. The increased weight puts more pressure on their joints.

Joint Infections

Some diseases, such as Lyme Disease, causes infection, inflammation and damage to the tissue lining the joints.

Repetitive Stress

Athletic dogs that frequently play games like frisbee, dock diving or agility competitions put more strain on their joints over time and are more likely to wear down cartilage between the joints.

Does Your Dog Have Arthritis in Lake Zurich, IL? Look Out for These Symptoms

If you suspect your dog is suffering from arthritis, be on the lookout for the following behaviors and symptoms:

Stiffness

You might notice your pup is moving a little like a robot, particularly after she wakes up from a nap. She may be avoiding having to bend aching joints too much until they “warm up.” This is because during times of immobility inflammatory fluid can collect around the joints.

Limping

If your dog has arthritis in his knees, ankles, hips or elbows, you may find him favoring the sore legs more than others, which leads to a limp in his gait. This limp will probably come and go, depending on the severity of his arthritis.

Lethargy

A dog with arthritic joints will probably not have her usual “get up and go” – and who could blame her? If moving hurts, your sweet pup won’t have the same desire to do normal things, like greet you when you come home or go for walks.

Excessive Licking, Chewing or Biting

A dog’s natural response to pain is to clean the injured area – even if the injury is internal. You may find him licking or chewing a sore elbow or knee to the point of wearing down fur and skin on the area.

Hiding

Dogs in pain instinctually want to hide. This is a primitive behavior meant to keep potential predators from finding out they have a weakness. If your dog is often going off to different areas of the house, away from others, it’s possible she’s hurting.

Reluctance

If you think your dog wants to join you upstairs or downstairs but is hesitating at the stairs, it’s possible he’s mustering the motivation to conquer each step.

Atrophy

This is a deterioration of muscle due to inactivity. Atrophying muscles will start to shrink in size and can lead to falling, tripping and difficulty with standing or going potty.

Bad Attitude

When we’re in pain, we tend to be a little grumpy. Your dog is no different. You may find him snapping or growling at anyone coming close to him. This is because he’s afraid anyone that touches him could cause further pain.

Weight Gain

Unfortunately, this symptom of arthritis can actually make it worse. Odds are good if normal activity is painful for you pup, she won’t want to do it as much. This can lead to a caloric surplus, where she’s eating more than she’s expending. This leads to an increase in weight which then puts more strain on her joints.

Accidents

Your dog will likely hesitate to go outside to go potty if walking or climbing stairs hurts. This can result in an increase of accidents inside the house.

***These symptoms may worsen or become more noticeable in winter weather. This is due to a fall in barometric pressure that causes joints to expand.

Contact Your Vet About Your Dog’s Arthritis in Lake Zurich, IL

If you notice any symptoms of arthritis in your dog, make sure to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will ask about any changes in your dog’s behavior and do a physical exam to look for signs of aching joints.

There’s no cure-all for arthritis in dogs beyond joint replacement, which is expensive and can be quite painful for your pup. Thankfully, there are ways to treat it that can decrease your dog’s pain.

Weight Management

If your dog is overweight, your vet will suggest putting him on a diet to get him to lose excess weight which will decrease the amount of pressure he’s putting on his joints.

NSAIDS

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs offer a way to not just reduce or erase pain but decrease inflammation in arthritic joints. Unfortunately, long term use of these drugs can damage kidney or liver function. Your veterinarian will want to do routine blood tests while your pup is on NSAIDS.

Joint Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin are available in many forms, such as treats or pills, and have been shown to decrease inflammation around joints. They also increase water retention in cartilage, providing more cushion between the bones in joints.