owner identification of pain

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Osteoarthritis affects at least 1 in 5 dogs, and its prevalence increases as dogs age; it is therefore very likely your dog has or will get osteoarthritis.

identifying & monitoring the signs of pain

It is speculated that arthritis affects at least 1 in 5 of all dogs. However, this figure is from a telephone survey of vets in North America in 1996. Many experts believe it is a lot higher than this. Its prevalence increases with age with 50% of dogs affected diagnosed between 8 and 13 years of age. At least 80% of dogs over the age of 8 years old suffer from arthritis, therefore it is likely that your dog will develop arthritis in one or more joints at some stage in their life.

Dogs are incredible at ‘coping’ with discomfort. Some suggest it is due to them wishing to mask their pain and avoid appearing vulnerable. Others suggest the only option is ‘to cope’ when you do not understand there is an alternative. And some feel they demonstrate tolerance to musculoskeletal pain due to the insidious chronic nature of its development and through the ability to shift weight away from the pain into other regions of the body.

Whatever the reason, dogs often have significant disease even before it is suspected as detecting it can be very difficult.

Pain is typically classed as either being acute or chronic. This is an important distinction as while acute pain serves a useful biological purpose, chronic pain does not.

possible signs of arthritis & chronic pain

behavioural changes

  • Being more grumpy
  • Playing with their toys less
  • Licking their joints
  • Pacing at night
  • Depression or low mood

Posture changes

  • Hunched back
  • Avoiding putting weight through one of their legs when standing
  • Changes in body shape due to muscle loss
  • Low head carriage
  • Tucked up tail
  • Different sleeping positions

Mobility Changes

  • Slowing down on walks
  • Stiffness when getting up after a period of rest
  • Hesitating when using stairs
  • No longer jumping up onto the sofa
  • Lameness
  • Dragging their feet

Identification 1st Monitoring 2nd

Having identified that your dog may be showing signs of chronic pain and clearly recorded them on the CAM Suspicion of Chronic Pain document. After presenting your thoughts and observations to your vet and obtaining a diagnosis of arthritis, the need to continue being able observers is essential to make sure the interventions that are chosen work. No intervention comes with a promise that it will work or that it will suffice. The owner must continue to observe and monitor to ensure treatment goals of improved pain state and increased capability are reached and maintained.

There are many ways this can be achieved, and what works for one owner may seem impossible for another. We will list a few options below.