As an owner, you know your own dog better than anyone else. You know all their little quirks, likes and dislikes, daily routines, what they are capable of and what they aren’t. This makes you perfectly equipped and most likely to be the first person to notice when something changes or isn’t quite right.
There are a number of symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. In veterinary terms you may well have come across these referred to as clinical signs. This is because technically speaking there is a subtle difference between the two.
Symptoms = subjective and perceived by the patient, they relate to what a patient is reporting to you about how they feel. Dogs cannot verbally describe these to you in the same way a human can.
Clinical signs = more objective, they are an indication of a medical condition that can be observed or measured by someone other than the patient themselves.
Clinical signs of osteoarthritis include:
- Stiffness or lameness – especially in the mornings or following exercise
- Altered gait e.g. shuffling or knuckling of the feet, stiffer movement of the limbs
- Reduced range of movement of the affected joint
- Crepitus (feeling or hearing grinding within the joint)
- Muscular atrophy (wasting of the muscles)
- Painful or swollen joints
- Reluctance to exercise e.g. refusing to go for a walk or slowing down on walks
- Inactivity e.g. reluctance to get out of bed
- Behavioural changes e.g. playing less, refusing to jump into the car
- Licking joints
- Restlessness or finding it difficult to lie comfortably
All dogs present differently and will often show a combination of clinical signs but not necessarily all of them.