Does My Senior Dog Have Arthritis? Painless Tips for a Painful Disease

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Your lovable energetic canine best friend has been a faithful companion for nearly a decade but now stops short of the staircase or needs a push to get up when it is time to take a walk.
It wasn't an overnight change but gradually he's step was slower and his passion for play and excitement waned.
Could a dog have arthritis? In a word, yes.
Arthritis is the condition where the cartilage inside of joint deteriorates so bones rub together causing stiffness, pain and loss of the ability to move.
It is not a disease reserved for humans.
Osteoarthritis affects animals too! This is especially true for large breed canines (over 50 lbs).
Unfortunately, a dog cannot tell us when he is in pain so as owners we must be conscientious and look for signs of this painful degenerative disease.
Indicators of a Dog with Arthritis
  • Trouble Standing or Sitting Is it a struggle for your friend to get to his feet? Does he circle around and around before finally setting down?
  • Sleeping Longer and More Often A dog with arthritis will often begin to sleep more and appear less interested in walks or play.
  • Appearing to suffer from sore, stiff joints Does your dog appears to have stiff legs or walk a bit funny when he stands up after a nap or car ride? Has he started to snap if awakened or whimper when petted?
  • Hesitancy to climb stairs Do you have to coax your dog to take that first step up or down the staircase?
  • Favors a limb Does he tend to walk more on one side or the other? Maybe one leg is appearing to waste away while the other three appear more muscular?
  • Tipping the Scale on the Heavier Side Increased weight from one vet appointment to the next can indicate avoidance of movement due to pain.
  • Decreased interest in Play or Other Behavior changes If your dog loved playing chase-the-tennis ball but now prefers to chew on it well out of reach, then take a nap Or maybe your pooch loved riding shotgun with the wind flapping his ears, but no longer races to the door when he hears the jingle of car keys.
    , painful joints could be the cause.
  • Zoned Out A pet that appears disinterested in everything and somewhat less alert than normal is another sign of arthritic joints.
Make Your Lifestyle Senior Dog Friendly   If your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis, it is wise to make a few changes to your home to improve your dog's daily life.
Flooring Ceramic tile, hardwood and laminate flooring can be slippery, making it troublesome for an arthritic pet to maneuver.
Area rugs with gripping or rubber backing are a great option to prevent injury to your pet.
A Soft Bed Though your dog may have always slept on the couch, your bed or maybe the floor, these places may not be as comfortable as the arthritic joints become more problematic.
It maybe time to invest in a doggie bed designed specifically for an aging dog.
There are several types that designed to provide comfort.
Water-beds, bolster beds (with sides shaped like a nest), hammocks and thickly padded beds will provide the additional comfort required.
Ramps and Stairs A senior dog may struggle to get up and down stairs, into cars and up onto their favorite couch.
There are dozens of options to make these everyday activities less of a painful struggle for the arthritic pet.
Some ramps are designed for easy portability and can telescope up and down as necessary.
In some areas it might make sense to build a durable ramp if it is going to be used everyday.
Young Children Lovable old dogs sometimes look "hug-able" to a small child.
But living with constant joint pain will make a dog less tolerant to interacting with playful children.
An uncharacteristic nip has sent more than one toddler to the emergency room.
Constant monitoring of an older dog is essential when children are around.
Extra Time for Exercise Modest daily exercise can be very beneficial but never rush a dog suffering from osteoarthritis.
Check with your veterinarian for an appropriate exercise program to strengthen your dog's muscles.
Keep in mind a walk is going to be at his pace, not yours for best results.
He may need support and assistance with stairs and a bit of extra time to get around.
For more tips and ideas on how to help your arthritic dog enjoy his golden years visit the OldDogPaws arthritis page.
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