Osteoarthritis is common in older dogs, especially in larger breeds. As in humans, it affects the joints and can become extremely painful. Luckily enough, your vet will be able to provide a treatment plan that should alleviate much of this discomfort and allow your dog to continue living its best life at any age. Of course, a dog can't just walk up and tell you when something is wrong, so you should keep an eye out for the following five common signs of osteoarthritis in dogs.
1. Trouble Getting Up and Down
Often one of the first signs of osteoarthritis you'll be able to notice in your dog is trouble getting up or lying down. This places a lot of pressure on your dog's joints, so you may notice them showing caution or signs of discomfort when performing these actions, especially when they get up after being down for some time.
2. Reluctance Towards Activity
It's perfectly natural for dogs to grow a little less active as they grow older, but a reluctance to walk, run, jump, or otherwise play around with their owner may be a sign something else is wrong. If your dog suddenly seems unwilling to use their body as much as they used to, it's a good idea to visit the vet for a check-up.
3. Stiff Movement
Osteoarthritis doesn't just cause pain—it can also leave your dog's joints feeling stiff. If you notice your dog walking with a stiffer gait than normal, osteoarthritis could be the cause. You're particularly likely to notice this symptom after your dog has just woken up or when they have just had some exercise.
4. Unexplained Irritability
Pain can cause irritability in dogs as much as it can in humans. They may snap or bark when you try to touch or handle them, particularly if you touch or place pressure on their joints. They may also simply not seem to want your company as much anymore. Dogs often hide away when they're in pain, so it should be a cause for concern if your pet suddenly stops following you around in favour of spending time alone.
5. Licking or Chewing
Finally, your dog may point to the problem by paying attention to any joints that are bothering them. It's relatively common for them to try licking, chewing, or even gnawing on painful joints to provide relief. Even if you don't actually see them doing this, any local hair loss or irritated skin can be a sign they've been bothering the area.
Contact a vet clinic for more information.