How to Spot the Early Signs of Dog Arthritis

Dog Arthritis is a like a "thief in the night". It will creep slowly into your dog's system and if you are not quick enough to spot the signs, your dog will unfortunately be robbed of a pain-free life. Therefore it is extremely important that you learn and understand the early signs of canine arthritis. This is one disease that if you catch it early enough you can make significant changes in your dogs quality of life for the years to come.

If you have any suspicion, the best thing to do is to bring your dog to your veterinarian for examination and x-rays in order to be sure. Many people avoid making the investment in x-rays early in the disease process because of the financial cost involved with veterinary care. In most cases, in order for proper X-rays to be taken the dog has to be sedated or put under anesthesia. This can add to the overall cost of the diagnosis. At the end of the day though, it is well worth the initial investment to catch this disease early as it will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years in veterinary fees and medications.

Just keep in mind that the earlier you can have a proper diagnosis, the better the chances of healing as well as instituting preventive measures to avoid future flare-ups. Since your dog can't talk, it will be up to you to be quick in spotting abnormal signs,especially when it comes to your pet's mobility and the presence of pain.

Although Dog Arthritis may occur in dogs of any age, it is commonly associated with aging. At the onset of the disease, a dog rarely shows that it is "suffering" or in pain. When arthritis first sets in, your dog may find that it is painful or uncomfortable engaging in activities that it normally performed without difficulty, such as climbing stairs and chasing birds in the yard. As the arthritis progresses most people notice their dogs become more "couch potatoes". This change in attitude should alert you that there is something wrong.

The biggest misconception pet owners have is that their dogs decrease in activity is due to "old age". Ninety-five percent of the time this is not the case. Instead, it is because the dog is in pain when it gets up and moves around. Normal daily activities become a burden for them.

As the disease progresses and your dog continues to move around less and less, the muscles begin to atrophy. Remember the saying; If you don't use it you lose it! The skeletal system (ie. bone and joints) are supported by muscle, therefore the more muscle your dog loses the more stress and weight is placed on the joints when your dog gets up and moves around. This is a vicious cycle which ultimately leads to your dog unable to get up at all without assistance and then all to often owners opt for euthanasia. Yet if the pet owner had been more proactive most likely they would never had arrived at this point in the first place.

As you can see, spotting the early signs of Dog Arthritis and starting immediate medical intervention cannot be overemphasized. As a pet owner you need to take an active stance against this debilitating and degenerative disease that can prematurely debilitate your dog's life. It is never too early to start your dog on a balanced joint supplement that contains ingredients with natural anti-inflammatory properties and chrondroprotectants such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

More often than not, a dog suffering from Arthritis will show a couple of clinical symptoms. Below are the most noticeable and presumptive signs that you must watch out for early diagnosis and treatment:

1. Slowing Down: When your aging dog slows down, it does not mean that it is just a normal sign of growing old. Your dog may be suffering from Dog Arthritis and be in pain.

2. Sleeping More: You'll find your dog sleeping longer in the morning and preferring to stay in bed.

3. Closed Hind Stance: If the Arthritis is affecting the joints of your dog's hips or knees, you will notice that their back legs are closer together when standing. This usually is a sign that they are compensating and therefore shifting their weight forward to the front legs. The hind legs are brought closer together in an effort to just balance their hind-end. This is called the "closed hind leg stance"

4. Wide Front Stance: In contrast, since the front legs are now supporting most of the body weight, your dog's elbows appear to be pushed out giving them a wider stance.

5. Bunny Hopping: It is not normal to see your dog running with the two hind legs moving together at the same time. They will look like bunnies hopping across the yard. When you see your dog "bunny hopping", this should be a major alert.

6. Licking Joints: Discomfort in the affected limb or joint will cause your dog to lick at it in an effort to alleviate the pain and discomfort.

7. Slow to Get Up: This is one of the most common clinical signs that you can easily spot and must not ignore.

8. Exercise Avoidance: Your pet may have a sudden change of mind when it comes to going on walks. Most dogs love to take a walk. You may suspect something is bothering your dog when it is reluctant to finish the usual route, though, you should be concerned when this happens over a period of time and not just once or twice.

9. Jumping Avoidance: Your dog will hesitate or totally avoid the stairs, or jumping on beds, couches or in the car.

10. Stiffness: You may notice that your dog is stiffer than normal.

11. Exercise Induced Limping: You may begin to notice that your dog has a subtle limp that comes with exercise and then resolves with rest and time.

12. Loss of Muscle Mass (ie. muscle atrophy): This can be determined by regularly running your hands over your dog's body. To have a comparison, run your hands on the right and left side simultaneously.

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