Diagnosing Arthritis

There are different ways to diagnose arthritis but all are reliant on YOU, the owner, noticing that your dog ‘is not right’, is ‘slowing down’, or is ‘getting old’.

Dogs tend to show subtle signs that they are in discomfort, such as a change in energy levels, in posture, in how they walk or run, their capability to get onto the bed or sofa, or how they get into the car. Their muscle distribution may also change. You need to notice these changes to make a diagnosis possible.

If you suspect arthritis your dog should have a thorough examination by your vet.  There are other conditions that look very similar but require different treatments.

A thorough approach to accurately diagnosing arthritis in your dog might be as follows:

  1. Identify changes in energy levels, behaviour, gait and mobility
  2. Consultation and full physical examination with your vet 
  3. Further investigations at your vets – such as Blood Tests, Urine Samples, X-rays or CT Scans and Joint Fluid Collection
  4. Assessment of response to treatment on anti-inflammatory medication

This will allow for a thorough plan for your individual dog can be created, taking into account the severity of the disease.

If this level of veterinary care is not available or affordable, arthritis can still be diagnosed with some accuracy as the most consistent signs are altered activity levels and behaviours, pain, swelling and restriction in one or more joints, and changes in the way a dog walks/ runs/ sits and lays. Always ask your vet for advice as guess work can have disastrous results.

It can be a very difficult to notice arthritis as it comes on slowly. If you see any signs of arthritis which you may put down to ‘slowing down’ or ‘just getting old’ we advise an early discussion with your vet.