Unless you’re Dr. Doolittle, you probably can’t use words to communicate with your dog. Luckily, dogs have many other methods of communication, like tail position, barking, and general attitude and demeanor. You can use some of these cues to determine if your dog is suffering from arthritis.
- Watch him walk. Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in your dog’s joints, so watching him move is one of the best ways to tell if he may have arthritis. Your pup may walk more stiffly than usual, or he might favor one leg. Joint discomfort is not spread evenly throughout his legs, so if he seems to be babying one, that could indicate pain from arthritis.
- Watch him sleep.When your dog gets up in the morning, does he seem stiff and uncomfortable? Is he sleeping more frequently? Does he tend to move around, shifting position often? Lying still for long periods of time can make the muscles feel stiff and worsen joint pain. The pain is likely to be most noticeable – for both you and Fido – when he first gets up in the morning.
- Watch him play. When your dog feels sore, it’s hard for him to play with his usual vim and vigor. Just like people, dogs get grouchy when they’re in pain. When you take your dog for a walk, he may lag behind more than usual. You might notice that he’s not right there at the door to greet you when you get home from work. He may even avoid playing with you. Don’t worry, though; once his arthritis is under control, playtime will be back on!
- Watch him jump. Joint pain is apparent in a variety of activities. If your dog used to cuddle on the sofa with you every night, but now settles for lying by your feet, it might be because it hurts to jump up on the couch. He may take the stairs more slowly, rather than bounding up and down them. Cold and damp weather exacerbate these issues, so you might notice that your dog slows down even more during the winter months.
- He’s just not himself. No one knows your dog better than you do. You’ve watched him grow and learn, and you know all of his little habits. If your older dog hasn’t been acting like his usual self lately, something may be wrong. Dogs try to hide their pain, so the casual observer might not think anything is out of the ordinary. If you feel like your dog is grumpier or just acting a bit ‘off,’ take him to the vet to get checked out. It’s better to be safe than sorry, particularly when it comes to your best friend!
It’s important to watch your dog for signs of arthritis. If left untreated – your pooch can be in a world of hurt. Make sure you keep an eye out for these critical signs and consult with your veterinarian if problems persist.