How to tell if your dog has arthritis

Have you noticed that your dog is running less or no longer jumping? Their joints could be giving them some trouble. Let's talk about canine arthritis, the main symptoms and how to relieve them.

What is canine arthritis?

Arthritis simply means 'inflammation of the joints' and is a common issue for many dogs, especially when they get older. 

In healthy joints, the bone surfaces are covered with a thin layer of smooth cartilage, lubricated with joint fluid allowing both surfaces to glide without barely any friction.

But in dogs with arthritis, the cartilage gets even thinner, becomes less smooth and as a result, the bone surfaces are rubbing together. Not only this is uncomfortable for your dog but it also causes further cartilage damage. Their joints get progressively stiffer and their movements become more limited. 

What causes arthritis in dog?

Canine arthritis mainly affects older dogs, however the condition can develop from an early age following joint development issues. It can be on one or several joints.

Arthritis can develop from joint instability and abnormal rubbing (if there was ligament damage), abnormal cartilage development or cartilage damage (after a fracture).

How to tell if your dog has arthritis?

The signs to look for

Dogs starting to suffer with arthritis will often exercise less and show obvious signs of stiffness when walking up the stairs or lying down. Some dogs tend to lick the joint that is causing pain. 

As there's no redness or swelling, it's difficult to detect external signs of arthritis just by looking at the joints. 

How are the dogs diagnosed?

A simple examination is often not enough to confirm the diagnosis and your vet will most likely recommend X-rays to confirm cartilage damage and help identity the underlying cause.

Sometimes, your vet might also take a sample of fluid from inside the joint, especially if there are signs of infection.

How to treat arthritis?

As arthritis gets worse in overweight and unfit dogs, it is very important to keep your dog's weight under control with a low fat diet and to maintain their activity levels as much as possible. 

Your vet will most likely prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and reduce the severity of symptoms.

They can also recommend giving your dog supplements for joints or feeding them foods that already contain joint supplements, such as our Joint Care Pack.

Can it be cured?

Unfortunately, damaged cartilage cannot repair itself completely. But most dogs manage to live a pain-free life with a well-managed treatment plan that also prevents further damage.