Is he an adult or senior exhibiting lethargy and joint discomfort?
He could have arthritis.
Arthritis symptoms vary from dog to dog.
What’s even more fascinating is that small dogs can have different signs and symptoms than large dogs.
These symptoms can wax and wane depending on a variety of factors including ambient temperature, previous exercise and body condition.
Dogs are skilled at hiding symptoms of arthritis, especially in the early stages of disease.
Three Common Symptoms
is the most common, consistent clinical sign of arthritis. Limping can originate from the front leg or the back leg and can often be in the front and back leg simultaneously.
In the front leg, arthritis is most common in the elbow. The canine elbow is a unique joint consisting of the intersection of three bones: the radius, the ulna and the humerus. The radius is considered the predominant weight bearing bone and essentially supports the humerus.
The ulna locks into the humerus and allows flexion and extension of the elbow. The humerus is the bone that connects the shoulder to the elbow. Arthritis of the elbow can be debilitating and tough to manage.
In the back leg, arthritis commonly occurs in two different joints, the stifle and the hip. The stifle is also known as the knee. This joint is created by the junction of the femur and the tibia. The stifle is prone to arthritis primarily because of the many ligaments and tendons that course the joint.
Failure or partial tearing of these soft tissue structures predispose this joint to arthritis.
The hip is a ball and socket joint between the femur and the pelvis. The hip structure allows for 360 degree rotation. Repeated rotation over a lifetime, poor muscle development and genetic malformations of this joint predispose the hip to arthritis.
is the second most common symptom of arthritis. In my opinion, stiffness is most common in large breed dogs. Stiff dogs do not want to flex and extend their joints because this movement causes pain. They tend to walk like a tin soldier. When a dog appears to walk stiffly, the affected joints are typically either the elbow and/or the stifle.
Inability to rise or being unwilling to rise
is the third most common clinical sign of dog arthritis. How many times do you see a geriatric dog not get up when the owner calls? Or, how many times do you see an older dog slip and slide all over the place when trying to rise?
This behavior occurs because of the pain caused by trying to flex and extend the joints in order to get up from a sitting to standing position.
Dogs try and try but just can’t muster the strength nor tolerate the pain to perform this once simple movement. The inability to rise occurs more frequently in geriatric dogs with multiple arthritic joints. The back, specifically the lumbosacral joint, is also frequently affected.
Other less frequent signs of dog arthritis include:
- Behavior changes
- Aggressive behavior
- Inability or unwillingness to move
Remember, arthritis symptoms are not curable but they are manageable.
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