Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tell-tale Signs Your Dog May Have Arthritis

 by Christopher Durin

Dog owners sincerely care for the wellbeing of their dogs, so it helps to be familiar with some of the more prevalent dog health issues.

One disease every dog owner should have a basic knowledge of is dog arthritis

The debilitating disease affects one out five dogs in the US alone, and this number skyrockets as they age. Furthermore, dog arthritis is not only a disease reserved for aging dogs - injury, obesity, or joint problems from birth can also lead to the early development of the disease.

Arthritis in humans is easy to detect since people are able to tell their doctors when a certain limb or joint is painful to move. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for dogs.

In fact, dogs are driven by their instinct to hide their pain

This only complicates matters since it is very important to catch the disease in its early stages.

Nonetheless, as dog owners, there is something you can do. There is no other person who knows your pet better than you, so it is important to keep an eye on your dog.

Any physical or behavioral changes might be a sign that your dog is not okay and may warrant a visit to your vet.

The following are tell-tale signs that your dog may have dog arthritis:

  • Your dog is having problems moving. Be aware when your dog is having difficulty standing up or sitting down. Also take note of the way your dog walks - limping or head bobbing can be a sign of an injury or an inflamed joint. Plus, pay attention if your dog avoids stairs or any obstacles that would require them to jump or exert some extra effort.
  • Your dog is not as active as before. Dogs love to play. When a dog becomes lethargic, do not dismiss it as a sign of aging or that your dog has become lazy.
  • Your dog is licking or chewing a certain joint or joints. If your dog’s does not have any skin problems then constant licking or chewing a certain area of skin may be a sign that your dog is ‘rubbing’ its sore joints the only way it knows how - with its tongue. We do the same of course when we rub an area of our body that is in pain.
  • If your dog have some behavioral changes. Dogs in pain can be irritable, and they often isolate themselves. Pain can also affect their eating habits, and depending on your dog’s personality, it can either increase or decrease appetite.

As you can see, these signs are very subtle and only someone like you, as your dog’s best friend, can detect these signs.

Keeping a vigilant eye is very important as it is essential that dog arthritis be treated when the disease has done minimal damage to the joints. 

As they say, “better safe than sorry” so get your dog to your vet or contact me at if you have any questions.

Christopher Durin


Christopher Durin is a veterinarian and has been in practice since 1993, with his skill focus and extra qualifications in surgery. Joint problems are a big part of his day and he has cared for a LOT of arthritic dogs and cats over the years. He has recently been diagnosed with an immune mediated arthritis himself, the pain of which makes him appreciate the bravery of our furry friends all the more.


  1. Owners often miss the signs of pain. They think that if the dog is not crying it isn't in any discomfort. It is important for owners to know these "subtle" signs of pain.

  2. Dear Keith

    Sadly, this is so true, even for people who spent most of their lives with dogs. Hopefully, if they hear this enough times it might get through to them.

  3. Hi Y'all,

    Great point. It's really tough to decide what exactly is bothering your dog, or if your being one of those people bothering your vet on every little "thing".

    Even when you know your dog has a problem, it is difficult to figure out exactly what the problem is.

    Arthritis is especially difficult unless your dog is totally lame.

    There are so many things that you can do for arthritis now that a dog shouldn't have to suffer.

    BrownDog's Mamma

  4. It is hard to decide what's bothering your dog, but with careful observation one can see that SOMETHING is off. I think it's always better to go to a vet with a false alarm than miss something important.

    The vet should be able to determine whether x-ray to confirm arthritis is needed.