Your dog can have joint pain and arthritis too and canine arthritis can be every bit as painful and dibilitating as it is for people.
But since they can't tell us we have to be alert to the signs. If you've noticed your dog exhibiting any of the following signs of arthritis in dogs you need to talk to your vet and take the necessary steps to improve their condition and make them more comfortable.
Favoring a limb — This can occur on its own for many reasons that don't mean joint pain or arthritis in dogs, they may have twisted a joint while playing or have gotten something sharp stuck in their paw. Most of the time they bounce back or we pick the bramble out and they are back to normal. However, if you notice your dog favoring a limb more often and it becomes ongoing behavior it could be due to joint pain or arthritis.
Difficulty sitting or standing — If your dog has arthritis or joint pain you may notice that certain positions cause them more difficulty. They may not like standing, especially for longer periods, if this puts stress on the joint that is causing them pain. If sitting is the position that hurts them you may even notice a hesitation before they obey a "sit" command. If they used to sit right away but now they look at you as if to ask, "You don't really want me to sit do you?!" or seem unable to get comfortable your dog could be experiencing joint pain.
Sleeping more — Arthritis in dogs can result in them sleeping more than usual. Being in pain causes a mental drain for us and it is no different for dogs. Besides, other fun activities they used to enjoy are now too painful. So what else to do but sleep, which also provides a respite from the pain.
Seeming to have stiff or sore joints — Joint pain and arthritis in dogs will affect the way they are able to move. Do they still have the same spring in their step. It might not just be old age. Sure dogs, like people, slow down and are less limber as they get older and that is to be expected to a certain degree. But it may be that they are getting arthritis or experiencing joint. You need to know because there are treatments available that can help.
Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs — This kind of ties in with the one above but it isn't the stiffness or limited movement that you are looking for, it's that hesitation they now have when it comes to doing things they didn't give a second thought to before. Joint pain or arthritis in dogs will make them pause before going up or down the stairs, for example. It's as if they are deciding if it is really worth the pain. Note: if your dog suddenly starts urinating (or worse) in the house and you have stairs going outside, consider the possibilty that they may have severe joint pain or arthritis.
Decreased activity or less interest in play — You may also notice a general reduction in your dog's activity levels. They just aren't their normal selves. They may not even want to play anymore. This can be a sign of many ailments but if you see this symptom together with some of the other ones here your dog may be suffering from joint pain or arthritis.
Weight gain — Joint pain and arthritis in dogs can result in weight gain. Of course this is primarily due to their dramatic reduction in physical activity. Unfortunately, the weight gain can cause even more pain as the added weight puts more stress on the already tender joints, which will make them even less interested in getting exercise. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Attitude or behavior changes — Arthritis in dogs and chronic joint pain can take their toll. Often times Aussies will have a fairly high pain tolerance and won't even let you know that there is a problem. But are you noticing attitude or behavior changes? Ask yourself what is causing them. Are they making odd noises or moans, do they avoid certain places or activities, have they started sleeping in an unusual place (softer or warmer perhaps), do they lay in a new odd position, are they getting more irritable or short tempered, are they licking their fur expecially on joints? Be on the lookout for things that aren't normal and always ask yourself what is causing it. You know your dog best. What are they trying to tell you?
Arthritis in dogs can arise in various ways. Age, hip dysplasia, poor nutrition, obesity, injuries, infections, immune system disorders or even poor breeding practices that allow dogs with a history of arthritis to be bred.
Regardless of the cause arthritis in dogs is degenerative and painful. As the cushioning from the cartilage is destroyed the bone structure in the joint itself are exposed so eventually the bone rubs directly on bone. This causes the joint to become painful and inflamed and the tissue surrounding the joint become thicker and lose their elasticity which restricts movement further.
So you think your dog is suffering from joint pain and your vet has confirmed that it is in fact the case — what can you do to help relieve their pain?
Common dog arthritis treatment involves the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These should always be prescribed by your vet and you should not give human medications to your dog. Some may be safe but others can cause bleeding in the digestive tract or liver damage.
There are other natural dog arthritis treatments that won't have the same side effects as pharmaceutical dog arthritis medications. These are often used in conjuction with each other.
Some of the most popular natural dog arthritis remedies contain glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate or omega fatty acids. These help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
Another important way you can help your dog prevent joint degeneration or at least slow the process is to ensure they are getting good nutrition. Wysong offers raw, dry and canned dog food and nutritional supplements made with all natural ingredients to the highest standards. Read our article about Wysong here.
If you would like to try Wysong products we have arranged for a special coupon code that is exclusive to Australian-Shepherd-Lovers.com readers. Just enter the code AUSSIE18 on their order page when you checkout and you will receive 18% off of your order. Use this link to visit their website to use the code.
But whichever dog food you are feeding be aware that weight gain is a real possibility with dogs that have joint pain or arthritis so you may have to adjust the amount you are feeding or consult your vet about switching to a lower calorie food.
When it comes to which nutritional supplements you should be using there are many excellent products available to help prevent or at least reduce the impact of arthritis in dogs. That means less pain for your dog and less pain for you in vet bills.
I recommend Dr. Jones' Ultimate Canine Health Formula because the "Dr. Jones" in the name refers to Dr. Andrew Jones who is a real practicing veterinarian. He has a wealth of information about his supplement formula that uses safe, natural ingredients on his website and when you visit his site you can also get a free copy of his "Special Report on Dog Food". (You can still get a free copy even if you don't order.) Here's the link.
Arthritis in dogs will make them much more sensitive to their environment. Just as with arthritis in people they will have good days and not so good days. One of the things you can do to help is to make sure they have a soft comfortable bed that is nice and warm.
Hard surfaces with no give will aggravate the condition while cold will tighten the already stiff joints.
Another point here is how slippery the flooring is can also make a difference. Carpeting provides good grip while slippery smooth flooring can put added strain on joints.
Once you are getting proper treatment for pain relief and you are providing good quality food and nutritional supplements you will want to then maintain and even extend the range of motion as much as possible.
You will want to avoid activities or exercises that are too strenuous or jarring to the joints. Let your sense be the guide rather than your dog's enthusiasm. They may get too excited and want to run and jump but maybe a gentle walk would be better.
Massage techniques designed to help your dog with arthritis and joint pain are available. Arthritis in dogs can be helped by regular dog massage, however, as with any dog arthritis treatment consult your vet.
If your dog has just started showing symptoms of dog arthritis you may be able to delay the onset of physical pain and frustration for your dog.
Dog arthritis treatment with regular dog massage helps increase blood flow, releases endorphines that act as natural painkillers, maintains or improves range of motion, helps relax and calm your dog and provides a great opportunity for you to bond as well. It's an all around good thing to practice even if your dog doesn't have arthritis yet.
There are very inexpensive lessons in dog massage available online. To learn more about treating dog arthritis with dog massage check out the Dog Massage Secrets Web Video Series. They provide easy to follow videos that you can watch right on your computer.
Arthritis in dogs, regardless of what caused it, is a serious condition that can cause your dog a great deal of pain and reduce the quality of their life. However, there are many things you can do to help ease their discomfort, improve their range of motion and help them to overcome many of the symptoms of dog arthritis and joint pain.
If you have a dog with arthritis or is showing some of the early signs of arthritis in dogs please consult your vet and begin implementing some of the dog arthritis treatments available as soon as possible.