How to Know Your Dog has Arthritis: top 10 symptoms

Just how can you tell if your dog has arthritis?  What are the signs they are in pain?  The last thing you want is for them to be really painful and suffering in silence.  They do give us some clues so join me as I go through the 10 main symptoms of arthritis in dogs.

 
 

So what are the signs your dog has arthritis?  What symptoms do you need to look out for that indicate they might be in pain?  It's easy, they limp right?!

Lame and stiff

Well yes they do, and lameness or stiffness is my first sign of arthritis in dogs.  But this isn't always as obvious as you might think.  When several legs are painful then an arthritic dog may not clearly be limping.

Early on in the disease they might also only limp a little first thing in the morning and actually warm up out of this pretty quickly once they are up and moving. As the disease gets worse then the lameness and stiffness becomes more of a permanent feature.

Worse in the cold

Arthritis symptom number 2 is the fact that this lameness or stiffness might get worse in cold weather.  This is why warm, draft free bedding can really help in the home management of arthritic dogs.

Check out my related article to learn more about these holistic management options.

Less active

A 3rd arthritis symptom in a general reduction in activity levels.  You might not feel they are still or lame but notice that your older dog is just slowing down.  It is very frustrating to hear from people that their pet is stiff and slowing down just due to age and that there is no way they are in pain.

To this I say that age in itself isn't a disease and that there may very well be a reason their dog is becoming slower.  Pain.

 
signs of pain in dogs include  1 - LAMENESS OR STIFFNESS 2 - WORSE IN COLD WEATHER 3 - REDUCTION IN ACTIVITY LEVELS 4 - REDUCED DESIRE TO EXERCISE 5 - UNWILLING TO JUMP OR CLIMB 6 - DIFFICULTY GETTING UP 7 - SPEND MORE TIME SLEEPING 8 - WEIGHT GAIN 9 - REDUCE FAMILY INTERACTION 10 - CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR
 

Don't want to run

Linked to this at number 4 is the sign that your dog has a reduced desire to exercise.  They might be just as active as ever around the house but as soon as you get the lead out or start throwing them their ball they quickly stop running around, instead choosing to plod slowly by your side.  They may even no longer rushing to the front door to greet visitors like they always used to do.

Trouble jumping or climbing

The 5th sign your dog might have arthritis is being hesitant or unwilling to jump or climb. They may no longer come upstairs because climbing up them is too painful.  They might prefer to sleep on the floor rather than their normal spot on the sofa.

When going out they may get their front legs up on the boot but need help getting the rest of their body into the car.  They may not even be able to manage this and need to be completely lifted into the back.

Struggle getting up

As they get worse and start to loose muscle in their legs the sixth symptom of arthritis in dogs can be difficulty getting up when lying down.  Slippery floors will make this more noticeable but some dogs will struggle and take some time to stand no matter what they are lying on.

Sleep more

In an effort to reduce the amount of pain they are in, a dog with arthritis may spend more time sleeping, or at least lying in their bed.  After all, their joints don't hurt as much if they are not moving.

So increased time sleeping is my 7th arthritis sign.

 
ARTHRITIS DEVELOPS SLOWLY + IT'S EASY TO MISS THE SLOWLY DEVELOPING SIGNS OF PAIN IN YOUR DOG
 

Weight gain

This along with the reduced exercise and activity already discussed then can result in symptom number 8, weight gain.  Very often we will continue to feed our dogs the same amount as normal, even when they are less active.  As a result they loose muscle and gain fat as well as gaining weight overall.

This makes the arthritis even worse.  A higher body weight means more force going through the painful joints, increasing both inflammation and pain.

Less social + behavior changes

As the pain levels increase further you might see the final 2 common symptoms of arthritis in dogs.  They might reduce their interaction with the family and you might notice a change in general behavior, becoming more grumpy, anxious, withdrawn or even aggressive.

This happens as they try and protect themselves from increasing pain.  They are worried that being moved or even just touched or patted is going to hurt and so do whatever it takes to reduce the chance of this happening.

Now you might think that some of these arthritis symptoms in dogs are pretty extreme and you would definitely be able to tell your dog had arthritis before they got to that point.  Remember though that arthritis comes on very gradually and so when you are seeing your dog every day it is actually quite easy to miss these things or just accept them as part of normal aging.

Head over to these articles to learn more about arthritis as well at it's treatment and home management.

If your dog is showing any of these signs then make sure you get them checked over by your vet.  They deserve to be pain free in their old age.

 

If you have any questions or if you noticed any other changes in your arthritic dog then please leave them in the comments below to let everyone know what else they can look out for.

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