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Arthritis in dogs

17 November 2022

Written by Dr. David Tweedle, BVetMed MRCVS Clinical Director

Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 5 Jun 2023

Sadly, human beings aren’t the only ones who get sore and achy as they grow older. That’s right, our dogs can suffer from arthritis too! Dr Dave Tweedle, My Family Pet Vet and Clinical Director at Natures Vet in Somerset, talks about how to help your dog…

What is arthritis?

It affects dogs just like it affects humans. As joints age, they become inflamed (that’s what ‘itis’ means: inflammation). As the joints swell up, it becomes harder for the dog to move.

Inflamed joints can wear down the cartilage, causing the bones to rub together if they wear down completely, which is very painful.

No dog is completely safe from arthritis, especially as they grow older. Having said that, obese or overweight pets are at a much greater risk because of the extra weight their joints have to contend with.

How will I know if my dog has arthritis?

First off, they’ll generally become quite stiff. They might move slowly or avoid putting their weight on one paw. Limping is also very common.

Difficulty moving may lead to a reluctance to do it. Your dog might spend more time asleep, or seem lethargic, and only get up to move about when they need to (e.g. mealtimes).

The longer this goes on, your dog may lose their appetite and seem restless from the constant struggle to get comfortable. Another side effect is that they may gain weight – from the lack of exercise. This will make the problem even worse because of the added pressure on their joints.

What does the future hold for an arthritic dog?

It’s important to keep your dog at a healthy weight throughout their life. Feeding them a healthy complete & balanced diet and making sure they get plenty of exercise will reduce their risk of many illnesses, including arthritis.

Sadly, arthritis doesn’t go away. It usually progresses as the dog grows older, but there are ways of managing the condition.

Anti-inflammatory therapy and medication can work, along with dietary supplements.

At home, make sure your dog’s sleeping area is as comfortable as possible: nice and warm, and with plenty of soft bedding and blankets. Encourage them to keep doing gentle exercise too – this will encourage the muscles and joints to remain strong and supple. Remember that if you’re concerned about arthritis, your vet is always there to help – don’t hesitate to visit them or give them a call.

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