If your dog doesn’t jump to greet you on your return home each evening, there may be a good reason – osteoarthritis. A chronic, degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful, osteoarthritis mainly strikes pets in their middle and senior years. However, younger animals can also be affected. In fact, studies show that approximately 20% of dogs have the condition in some form.
It can be heartbreaking to see your once lively, always active best friend begin to limp, or notice his or her obvious pain when moving around. There is, as yet, no cure for osteoarthritis, but there is a great deal that you and your veterinarian can do to decrease your pet’s discomfort and increase his or her mobility – especially if it is treated promptly.
Early warning signs of osteoarthritis:
- Difficulty in walking, climbing stairs, or getting in and out of the litter box
- An overall decrease in activity, especially play
- Resting more than usual
- Slowness in getting up from a lying position
- For dogs, “bunny hopping” with the hind legs, rather than running normally
- Slow or stiff movements upon waking, after a rest, or in cold weather
- Beginning to limp
- Swollen joint(s) that is warm to the touch
- Licking or biting at a joint
- Choosing a warm and soft or cold and hard place to lie down
- Personality change – your pet no longer likes to be touched
- If you notice any of the signs above, don’t just think that your pet is “slowing down with age”. Take him or her to see your veterinarian! The faster osteoarthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your pet’s quality of life will be.