Written by Megan McCorkle LVT
What you might think are signs of "old age" are often signs of arthritis in your old dog or other age-related changes in our aging dogs. Arthritis occurs to a certain degree in nearly EVERY senior pet. Both large and small breeds can be affected by these aging changes. Why should you be in the know about arthritis? Well, arthritis causes chronic pain in our older dogs. What is worse is that it is very easy to miss the signs in pets who are adept at hiding illness and pain from us.
Often times when getting a history from an owner during a wellness exam I hear, "She doesn't cry out in any pain." or "He still gets around fine." After a little discussion and a few questions; details emerge that indicate that arthritis might be setting in. Some owners are in shock or even denial initially when they learn that their dog has been hiding his or her pain and realize how much better they feel by adding in a simple supplement or pain medication.
Your veterinary team is there to help you in your commitment to your senior and they want you to have the knowledge you need so you don't miss the signs!
Here is a list of the most common (often unknown) signs we see in dogs with arthritis:
Difficulty with stairs ( can be as subtle as slowing down or hesitating to go up or down)
A weight-bearing limp ( sometimes just a slight limp)
Some difficulty getting in/out of the car or on/off the bed or couch
Not getting up to follow you around like before
Slowing down on walks or resisting longer walks
Trouble getting up from laying / stiff gait
If you see even a subtle change in your dog's mobility or comfort mention them to your vet and ask if it is time to start an omega 3 supplement, joint diet, or anti-inflammatory medication to aid in their comfort. Do not start these without the recommendation from your vet. Starting these things sooner in our seniors rather than later may be helpful since inflammation will likely lead to the progression of joint changes in dogs with arthritis. Evidence suggests that the sooner we interrupt the process the less long-term damage there will be.
If you enjoyed this blog then we hope you join other Dog Parents like you and transform from concerned to 'in-the-know' dog parent with our one-of-a-kind vet created courses. Learn more about creating a healthier life for your aging dog, by checking out our free resources and top-rated Longer Living Dog Mini Course for Pet Parents. Your dog will thank you.