Has your furry best friend been slowing down?  Here are the top 10 signs your older dog is painful:olderdog

  1. They aren’t as playful as they used to be/they sleep all the time.
  2. They don’t get up in their favorite chair anymore.
  3. They hesitate before following your command when you ask them to sit.
  4. They are slow to rise after lying/sitting.
  5. They are less patient with the kids or just seem grumpier than usual.
  6. They slide around or don’t seem as steady on the wood/vinyl flooring.
  7. They don’t hold their tail up high anymore – it often seems to be tucked.
  8. One or both of their back legs shakes when they are at a standstill.
  9. They avoid the stairs or bunny hop (use both back legs at the same time) when they go up or down the stairs.
  10. They look like a body-builder from the front and a ballerina from the back (i.e. bulked up front leg/shoulder muscles and skinny hip/back leg muscles from slowly shifting their weight forward over time).

Dogs rarely cry out in pain unless they are feeling acute, severe pain (such as with a traumatic accident).  Instead, they adjust their behavior to allow them to continue to do their favorite things until they can no longer make further adjustments.  This is why we often miss seeing that our best friend is in pain. When a person limps, it is obvious, because we only have two legs.  When a dog feels pain it is much harder to tell they are not bearing weight normally.  Over time what I see as a veterinarian is asymmetric muscling (one thigh muscles is much bigger than the other or the front limbs are much more muscled than the back limbs).

The goal of pain control in animals is to keep them moving for as long as possible, both for their mental and physical health.  Studies show that regular exercise is the best pain control and animals who move more tend to live longer.

We have so many more options for pain control today than we had twenty years ago, ranging from nutritional supplements, injectable joint supplements, pain medications, therapeutic laser, massage, acupuncture, and other canine rehabilitation techniques.  Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you think your canine companion is experiencing discomfort and we will be happy to develop a personalized pain control plan that works best for you, your dog and your lifestyle.

Authored by Dr. Kelly Hutchison