Signs of arthritis to look for in your dog

As the cold weather really begins to set in this week, canine experts are warning pet owners to keep an eye on their dogs for arthritic symptoms, as arthritic dogs will suffer more during this time.

Arthritis is a common condition that affects thousands of dogs of all breeds and ages. Julia Robertson, founder of Galen Myotherapy, a unique therapy that treats dogs with the condition, wants to raise awareness of canine arthritis. She's calling on owners to look out for the symptoms over the winter months, so they can take early action and prevent the condition from worsening.

Julia, who has a background in veterinary nursing and farming, says, "As man's best friend dogs only want to please their owners and this ingrained devotion means they will often suffer in silence, not wanting to cause a fuss. 

"They can also struggle to communicate their pain so they may not start to show the physical effects of arthritis, such as a limp or reluctance to walk, until they are in agony."

Signs to look out for:

  • Uneven walking - are they avoiding putting weight on a particular leg?
  • Stiffness, especially when getting up after they've been laying down/sitting for a while
  • Persistently licking or chewing their feet - to distract from the pain
  • Avoidance of grooming, stroking or being touched in a particular area
  • Lameness or limping
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty/reluctance to do a physical activity they never struggled with previously
  • Change in body shape - neck (collar size) and shoulders becoming larger, hind quarters looking 'smaller', and a hunch developing.

As with humans, canine arthritis can also affect younger dogs. Osteoarthritis can be brought about by previous damage to a joint so, Julia warns, if your pet suffered an injury or accident as a puppy or teenager, they could be susceptible in years to come.

Julia adds, "Now is the time to start looking for tell-tale signs they could have arthritis as the cold, wet weather will aggravate any problems they may have been able to hide or ignore earlier in the year. Spotting arthritis early and getting a plan in place to manage their pain will help in the long term and stop the condition becoming unbearable.

"I developed Galen Myotherapy to give dogs a better quality of life and I am determined that no animal should suffer in silence. One of the main steps to fulfilling this is ensuring people have as much knowledge as possible to support their pets and that is why I’m calling on all dog owners to keep a close eye on their animals this winter."