Achy muscles and stiff joints affect more individuals than you may think. In fact, these common symptoms of arthritis are found in both the young and old—and human and non-human. That’s right…arthritis is an issue that many animals experience as well. Dogs in particular, often suffer from this condition.

So, what is arthritis and why does it occur in dogs? Arthritis means that there is inflammation in the joint. As dogs get older, cartilage around their joints begins to thin and wear away. This causes abnormal interaction between the bone and joint, resulting in bone-on-bone contact. The end result is pain and inflammation for your poor pup.

While canine arthritis is a difficult condition to manage, there are things you can do as a pet owner to help ease your dog’s suffering and slow down the disease.  Most importantly, you need to recognize the symptoms of dog arthritis. The earlier you discover your dog has this disease, the earlier treatment can begin and your dog can find some relief.

Symptoms of Canine Arthritis

  • Limping
  • Less energy
  • Trouble getting up from a resting position
  • More difficulty with common activities
  • Swollen joints

Since arthritis is generally a slow progressing condition, prevention of further damage is possible if detected early. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis, you’ll want to take your pet to an animal hospital where a veterinarian can make an official diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan.

Taking your dog for regular checkups and wellness exams is a great way to monitor your dog’s health and stay on top of this joint disorder. In addition to that, pet owners can safeguard their dog against the development of this condition by taking steps to ensure their dog is as healthy as can be.

The best way to prevent your dog from developing arthritis or treat it once it has occurred is by keeping your dog at a healthy weight. Extra weight puts pressure on the joints, leading to more wear and tear of the cartilage and ligaments.  To keep your dog’s weight in check you’ll want to feed it the most nutritious dog food available, one is that high-quality and full of vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet along with plenty of exercise—like long walks, games of fetch and more—is key to protecting your dog’s joints.

If arthritis has already set in, you can help ease your dog’s discomfort by making sure the environment at home is of the utmost comfort to your dog. Since hard surfaces can be hazardous for a dog with arthritis (because of the impact it can have on the joints), you’ll want to pad any hard or slick surfaces, such as hardwood floors or steps, to give your dog better traction and a soft landing pad should a fall or bump occur. Lastly, don’t forget to deck out your dog’s sleeping area with plush, supportive bedding to help ease your dog’s sensitive joints.

Unfortunately, canine arthritis can negatively impact your dog’s quality of life in major ways. Don’t let it go untreated! Talk to your veterinarian today to find out more ways to help your dog fight this debilitating condition.