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Canine Arthritis

This weekend I attended a workshop on canine arthritis by the great ladies that run Canine Arthritis Management, Canine Arthritis Management – Arthritis in Dogs

This was set up by vet Hannah Capon who I have previously worked with in the veterinary world. Hannah and her team are extremely passionate about this dreadful debilitation condition and discussed how we can help the dogs that suffer, which is approximately 80% of dogs over the age of 8 years old. However, Arthritis is not just a disease for the older dog there are cases of young dogs suffering as well, even some as young as 18 months old!

I find this subject fascinating as there is a strong link with pain and behaviour problems. Did you know that a dog will be suffering a pain score of 6/10 before we see clinical symptoms, now that is worrying! We are also not be able to see Arthritis on x-rays until there are bony changes, but serious damage to the joints is already done by this point. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease which is a progressive disease and should be considered seriously rather than thinking my dog is a bit achy, slow or old, we CAN make them feel soo much better than staying in an achy and uncomfortable state.

Recognise the signs:

Walking with an unusual gait

Changing in the way they sit, lie, sleep

Stumbling or loss of balance

Behavioural changes

Licking or chewing paws, limbs

Less tail wagging

Reluctance to exercise

Chang in toileting habits, not squatting so low or cocking leg, toileting as they keep walking

Nail may grow more or show wear on certain toes but not others

The list above emphasis's the reason I ask for vet referral so we can see if there is a medical issue contributing to your pets behaviour problem. Listed below are some of the behaviour changes that Arthritis can cause however consider other issues such as skin allergy, eye sight changes, ear infections and gut problems all can create discomfort.

Some behavioural changes to recognise:

Dogs may start to become anti social, they don't want to be close to agile playful dogs

Dogs may become reactive or aggressive to dogs

Dogs do not want to be touched in certain areas

Dogs may not want to go for a walk or get in/out the car

Dogs may not want to be groomed

Dogs may struggle to eat or drink from bowls on the floor

Dogs may rest in a different area to normal

Dogs may not wag their tail as much

Dogs may pant more when exercised

Imagine you were not feeling well would you still go out for a long walk or play a sport or go to a party if you were in discomfort, probably not. Picking up on some of the basic changes we see in our dogs and then recognising and act accordingly. Get a health check at the vets, give them some easy exercise days where maybe you do a shorter walks with search games. Keep them mentally stimulated and happy instead of going for miles to wear them out. We can make some simple changes to the home to help them too:

Make slippery floors easier to walk on but securing rugs

Use ramps instead of steps where possible

Make easy access to the car with a ramp if they struggle to get in the boot

Give them a good bed which supports their body

Raise food and water bowls

Use a harness instead of collar and lead

There are so many positive things we can do to help our dogs if they have arthritis most of which you can do at home and do not cost a lot of money. Please check out her website for lots of handy tips to help you dog.

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