It’s a pleasant Saturday evening. Just the right weather for a drive to the park, your German Shepard’s favourite place in the world. However, Jack barely moves instead of dashing towards the car like he usually would when you call for him. You try to prod him up, but he yelps in pain, recoils his left forelimb, and starts growling when you try to check for wounds.
This is a common symptom of arthritis.
Common Signs of Arthritis in Dogs
The most common variant of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis, which involves the degeneration of the synovial membrane and cartilage in the joint. Although not as common, other forms of the disease also include psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis is an incurable disease that causes inflammation and a degenerative progression of the joints in the body. If you’ve had any experience caring for an arthritic relative or acquaintance, you’d know that managing the condition is no walk in the park. Sadly, arthritis has the same effects on humans as it does on our canine friends.
It can be difficult to catch symptoms of arthritis in dogs early on. This is because dogs naturally have a high threshold for pain. A dog will not show weakness or discomfort unless the pain has become unbearable, meaning that the arthritic condition may have considerably worsened before you notice anything.
Regardless, there are a few telling factors you may notice in an arthritic dog. Some of the signs dogs with arthritis show include the following:
#1. Behaviour Change
An arthritic dog will consistently bite, lick, or chew at its hurting body parts to the point of inflammation and hair loss. Consider this the equivalent of a tender massage. When you notice your dog doing this consistently, it may be a sign of arthritic joints.
Dogs are bundles of energy, usually wanting to run around and play. When your dog starts showing a reluctance to exert itself physically, it may mean more than just old age. Unbearable pain can cause your dog to minimize discomfort by reducing physical activity.
The pain from moving around can wear it out, and the lack of constant exercise can make it look bored and disinterested.
#3. Lameness Or Limping
You may notice that your dog frantically tries to shift its weight off one leg onto the others, resulting in a limp. They may also find it challenging to do the basics like lying down comfortably or sitting upright. In worse cases, they may refuse to move at all.
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#4. Muscle Atrophy
Muscle atrophy is not an uncommon phenomenon for dogs with arthritis. The reduction in muscle mass due to a lack of adequate exercise and decreased physical involvement is a tell-tale factor that your pet is in pain.
You need to watch out for thinner or smaller limbs that do not look healthy compared to the rest of your pet’s legs. This gives you a hint of where the problem lies, as well as an insight into where to tackle.
Dogs sport a behavioural change when they are in pain. Originally pleasant and good-natured dogs can suddenly become grumpy and withdrawn.
This change is triggered by its instincts to protect the extra-sensitive muscle, and it can also be a way to release pent-up stress and tension due to the lack of exercise.
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Managing a Dog with Arthritis
After identifying the problem, what happens next? Since arthritis has no known cure, the next best thing is managing the condition by reducing the pain and discomfort your dog is feeling. You’ll also need to strengthen the affected muscles and joints.
Pet Life can help significantly with easing your dogs pain and helping them become more active again.