Arthritis is most usually found in older dogs, though it can affect pets of any age. As in humans, it is an inflammation of the joints that can cause stiffness and pain, and is something to watch out for throughout your pet's lifetime, but particularly as they get older.
Watch for signs of arthritis
Of course, you will always be vigilant when it comes to your dog's health - it's surprising how fast we notice the smallest changes in behaviour! When it comes to arthritis, there are several telltale signs to look out for, such as obvious stiffness (particularly after resting for long periods) and lameness. If these symptoms begin to let up after a little exercise, arthritis is certainly a possibility.
Your dog may generally be slower and less keen to exercise than usual, while he may also seem a little grumpy. You might also notice persistent licking of certain joints - an attempt to soothe the pain.
Visit the vet
As you would expect, if you notice these symptoms, it is time to visit the vet. Examining your dog, they will be looking to establish two things - firstly, whether your dog is indeed suffering from arthritis, and secondly, the underlying cause. The latter is key in determining the kind of treatment your dog will need to undergo.
Typically, your vet will need to take an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis, as well as to pinpoint potential underlying causes. They may also do a blood test to find out whether any underlying medical conditions are behind your pooch's ailment.
What to expect - treatment and beyond
While there is no cure for arthritis, there is a wide range of available treatments that makes it possible for most dogs to manage the illness pain-free. Potential treatments vary from weight management and exercise (obesity and lack of exercise often exacerbate the condition) to surgery.
Commonly, medication is also provided, including pain relief in the form of NSAIDs, cartilage protectors designed to reduce damage, and drugs that encourage cartilage repair.
Written by: Hannah