What Is Dog Arthritis?
There are many diseases that affect humans that do not affect dogs, and vice versa, but there are also a number of diseases that can affect both dogs and humans as well. Arthritis is one of these diseases, and it is no easier to manage the disease for dogs either, and in fact may be even more difficult to both diagnose and treat in dogs. And dog arthritis is actually quite common, even if it is not diagnosed as often as it should be.
Arthritis is a disease the affects the joints in the body, and there are many different types that can affect both humans and dogs. Each different type of arthritis is caused by something different, such as an infection in the joints, trauma to the joints caused by some sort of incident, or old age. In addition, some types of arthritis affect specific joints in the body, while others may start in one specific area and then spread to others. The point is there are many forms of arthritis, many things that can cause them, and many different symptoms to look out for.
Owners of dogs more susceptible to arthritis should pay close attention to the warning signs throughout their dog’s life, as arthritis can develop in certain breeds at any age. The warning signs are very similar to those in humans, but the difference is that it is much more difficult for dogs to communicate their discomfort than it is for humans. This makes it difficult for many dog owners to determine if arthritis is affecting their dog. Aside from a veterinarian discovering the presence of arthritis during a routine check-up or after having x-rays taken for a different reason, the only way to really tell if your dog has arthritis is to really know him well enough so that you can see changes if they occur. There are a few symptoms specifically that may alert you to the presence of some type of dog arthritis in your dog.
Dog Arthritis Warning Signs
The warning signs that point to arthritis in dogs are not always easy to notice, but with enough attention you will be able to see them. The most important thing is to know your dog well enough to notice even the slightest changes. If you do then there are a few warning signs that should not be that difficult to detect.
Stiffness – Stiffness is one of the most common signs to look for in your dog if you think that he may have arthritis. You may be thinking that there is no way to tell if your dog has stiff joints but rest assured, you will be able to tell. Just by watching your dog you can see if he is experiencing stiffness when he gets up, particularly after long periods of sitting or lying down. Be sure to pay attention to your dog as he moves around and gets up in order to be able to detect any wincing like expressions and slow, deliberate movements that are characteristic of animals in pain.
Irritability – Dogs tend to become irritable when they are in pain as well, and it is not that difficult to tell when a dog is irritable. You may notice your dog does not enjoy your attention as much, or even that he is snippy when you or others go to pet him, or you may notice he is developing an aversion towards children that he never had before, or one of many other things that are telltale signs of pain caused by dog arthritis. The main thing is to watch out for signs that your dog is different in some way in regards to personality.
Aggression – Dogs in pain are commonly much more aggressive than when they are not in pain as well, particularly towards those that initiate a lot of physical interaction with them. This is because the physical interaction causes the pain to be worse, as a dog’s joints are involved in just about every movement they make. If a typically non-aggressive dog starts showing more signs of aggression it could be a signal that there is a problem.
Weight Gain – Pain causes many dogs to become much less mobile than they would be if they were not experiencing pain, and the lack of exercise and physical activity can lead to weight gain. Some dogs gain more weight as they get older to begin with, so you do not want to panic as soon as you notice a few extra added pounds, but significant weight gain caused from inactiveness can signalize a problem. It helps to have at least a little bit of knowledge about how much weight gain is normal in specific breeds of dogs, so that you don’t overreact in response to something that is normal for the breed of dog that you own.
Swollen Joints – In very bad cases of dog arthritis there may even be some visible signs of the disease, most often in the form of swollen joints. This will obviously be easier to detect in some dogs than others, as some dogs are more covered with fur than others. In these cases you may have to check regularly by pulling back fur and looking for swollen joints. In other dogs you may be able to see without having to do anything. If your dog does have swollen joints it is very likely that he is suffering from arthritis in some form or another.
Loss of Appetite – Although dogs may experience periodic loss of appetite for any number of reasons, a loss of appetite is a common indicator of the presence of pain. It is important to remember that dogs are dogs, and dogs like to eat, so if your dog is not eating normally then it is definitely a sign that there is something wrong. If this occurs you should immediately check to determine if there are other signs of your dog being affected by arthritis, and even if you do not find other signs you will want to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian in order to determine for sure whether your dog may be being affected by arthritis or not.
Excessive Sleeping – Many dogs will cope with pain caused by arthritis by simply sleeping more, as the pain is less intense during these times, if they can get to sleep with the pain to begin with. Of course sleeping can signalize other things as well, such as old age, depression, and pregnancy in female dogs, but it is also a common way for dogs to deal with pain. You should be particularly concerned if your dog shows other signs of dealing with pain as well. This particular sign should cause the least amount of concern, though, as excessive sleeping can sometimes simply be a passing phase that goes away rather quickly.
Reaction to Physical Interaction – One more sign that your dog might be suffering from arthritis pain is a negative reaction to physical interaction. Almost all dogs love to play, and that play almost always consists of physical interaction. If you have a dog that has always liked physical interaction in the past, but seems to have a negative reaction to physical play now, it could be due to arthritic pain. Determining if this is the cause of a lack of interest in interaction of the physical type will help solve the problem and get your dog back to his normal playful self again.
There is no doubt that it is difficult to determine if a dog is suffering from pain, as they simply cannot communicate such things like a human being does. But if you have a loving relationship with your dog and pay enough attention to him, you will see the signals if they are there.