Some dogs, as they get older, become arthritic. It is not only age, but injury or disease can also limit a dog’s mobility and he or she can become arthritic. If your dog is showing behavioral changes and decreased interest in physical activity, arthritis could be the cause. Once your dog is diagnosed, arthritis symptoms can be managed with diet, medication, exercise or surgery.
Below are some tips to gage if your dog has become arthritic:
Observe your dog’s daily activities
Observe your dog's regular daily activities and behavior. If he or she seems to be sleeping more than usual, less active, is hesitant to jump or climb stairs, less alert or less interested in play, he or she might be arthritic. Try to make a list of all the changes from what you might consider as normal behavior for your dog.
Watch your dog as he walks or runs
Watch your dog closely during walking and running activities. Pay close attention to any limping or stiffness in his or her step. Try to observe if his slowness is further aggravated by exercise, cold weather, or long periods of inactivity.
Look at your dog’s joints
Look at your dog's joints for swelling or any decreased range of motion. Try to listen for crackling noises in the joints and watch for signs that indicate that your dog is in pain. Take note of which joints seem to be causing the pain.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if the above symptoms last for more than two weeks. Bring all your notes with you. Your veterinarian will ask about your dog's medical history including the symptoms of arthritis observed at home. The veterinarian will also thoroughly examine your dog's joints while looking for swelling, signs of pain, abnormal sounds, deformity and decreased range of motion.
Ask your veterinarian about the diagnostic tests to ascertain whether your dog is arthritic. X-rays, joint tissue biopsies, joint fluid aspirates, blood tests, urinalyses and electrolyte panels are all tests that might be performed. Consult your veterinarian about the types of medication he may want to prescribe your dog. Usually doctors like to prescribe non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs with arthritis or joint pain, but some may choose another type of pain relief medicine, depending on how your dog reacts to different drugs and his or her degree of discomfort.
Your dog is arthritic, but not to worry
If it turns out that your dog is arthritic, put him on a diet if he is overweight and feed him nutritious, low-calorie meals that will keep him lean. Heavy dogs will stress their joints if they are carrying around too much weight. It is also important to exercise your dogs to the best of your ability. Swimming is a great alternative for dogs that have arthritis.
I hope that your dog does not have arthritis, but if he or she does, it is treatable with exercise and diet.
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