Old age isn’t a disease… but arthritis is

Did you know that 80% of dogs over 8yrs old are likely to have arthritis? That’s a huge number.

Arthritis can be difficult to detect; it’s not like acute pain when there is a sudden onset of limping, crying or licking at a sore spot. The earliest signs can be what they’re NOT doing.

Maybe he can’t get into the car by himself anymore. Maybe she’s not so keen to play with her ball these days. This isn’t just ‘getting old’. This could be arthritis, and arthritis equals pain.

If arthritis isn’t identified early, it leads to less movement, lying around more, muscle wastage, less support for joints, more joint instability and more pain and inflammation.

It can also mean subtle changes in how they carry their body, to take weight off a sore limb. Putting uneven pressure on other body parts can create more pain and inflammation in those areas e.g. back pain in a dog twisting to keep weight off a sore back leg.

Here are some other behaviours that might indicate arthritis:

  • Changes in the way they sit, stand or sleep.
  • Stumbling, loss of balance.
  • Scuffed nails.
  • Behavioural changes – less tolerant of other dogs or people.
  • Changes in how they can support themselves to toilet e.g. a male dog not cocking his leg anymore.
  • Becoming ‘triangular’ (more muscular or thicker set) in the neck and forequarters may mean he has been shifting weight off painful hindquarters for some time.

There are so many aspects to arthritis management, and the first step is identifying those early signs.

Pain relief and weight management are key, but just as important is preventing continued trauma to arthritic joints. Ramps rather than steps, harnesses to support them getting out of cars, anti-slip mats on smooth floors, raised food and water bowls, and appropriate exercise routines are all management practices you can do at home to help your pet enjoy their senior years to the full.

For some tips on caring for the older generation see here...

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