The Top 10 ways to Tell if your Pet is Slowing Down due to Mild Pain from Arthritis
- Your pet greets you at the door more slowly and with less exuberance. When bones start to creak, it is a little more difficult to rise up so you pet will be slower to come to greet you. They are still happy to see you, but they just don't have that "wow! I have missed you sooooooo much look".
- Cats that used to sit up high on the refrigerator or top of the TV, now lay on the chair seats or floor more often. It takes a lot of power in those hind legs to get up high, so mild pain in the lower lumbar spine often has a cat choosing to stay low. They won't limp or cry out - and if you have other cats now they may be fighting more due to crowding at perching places.
- The dog that used to drag you on a walk now needs to be dragged. Even when dogs get older, the smells and sights of the neighbor's yard still excites them. If they are lagging behind it is because they are more stiff and less agile. Now weight can pile on which makes arthritis even worse.
- Your dog or cat keeps moving from place to place to lay. They don't settle in one spot for a nap or sleeping easily. Laying still for a long while can make muscles more stiff, worsening low grade pain. Be sure beds are well padded or consider a heated bed.
- Grouchy older pets. A normally well behaved pet does not get grouchy just because they are ornery. They are grouchy because they are feeling pain somewhere. How nice have you been when your neck or back hurt? It is the same for our pets.
- Accidents in the house are a clue. Dogs may find it difficult to "assume the position" and cats have a hard time climbing into high litter boxes down the stairs. Take your dog out frequently and give your cat a box that is no higher than 2 inches on the main level. Have your pet examined to help them keep up their house training. Many house trained pets become very upset when they have accidents they cannot help.
- Avoiding play time. An older pet still loves the time spent with you in play. If it hurts to chase the ball, or hold something in the mouth due to dental disease the pet will avoid play. After managing the pain of arthritis many dogs and cats are acting young again and the much missed play time is back again!
- Dogs that now don't chew rawhide. Often when the teeth are sore due to tartar and infection, the dog will chew on the good side so you won't notice lack of appetite. The dog will usually avoid catching a ball or chewing on rawhide since it hurts. Bring your dog in for a dental exam as soon as possible if they are avoiding rawhides or Greenies.
- Housemate pets that used to get along, now don't. It's tough to tolerate a younger dog or cat romping about or bumping into you if your back, hips or neck is chronically sore. So, the older pet hisses or growls to say stay away. This in not jealousy - it is self protection. Bring in your older pet for an arthritis screening to help everyone get along better.
- Just ain't doing right. When all you can say is that your pet is not themselves it is because there is typically some low grade pain that is wearing them down day by day. We understand how this is in older pets. Many problems don't have specific signs. Blood tests often catch problems long before they show up with signs at home. If your best friend "ain't doing right" bring them in.
- written by Dr. Sally Foote