Lazy (or Aching) Bones?
Rex, our 11 year-old German Shepard has so much difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position, and walks so slowly. He is not active like he used to be. Is this arthritis, and if so, is there anything that will help him?
Yes, this certainly can be arthritis. Dogs develop arthritis as they age, just like people do. They can get arthritis in any joint, but with aging it seems to be worse in the hips. This is why it is more difficult for them to rise to a standing position. It seems to be worse in large breed dogs because they have more weight to carry on their legs. However, I have seen definite arthritis problems in small dogs, too.
Unfortunately, our pets cannot talk to us. Therefore, we have to observe the signs that they show us. They cannot say “my hips sure hurt as I get up”. Most arthritic dogs do not show sharp pain. You can move an arthritic joint in all directions, and the dog will not show pain. It mainly hurts him when he puts his own weight on the joint.
Now, a word of caution. A dog with the signs you described could have some other serious medical condition. A dog with weakness could have heart disease, anemia, infection, or many other medical conditions. The dog should be examined by a veterinarian to make sure his general health is alright. If it turns out that his problem is only arthritis, then medicine can be prescribed to help him.
In the past two to three years, new medicines have been developed that have greatly helped dogs showing pain from osteoarthritis. Even I have been amazed at how much these drugs have helped many of my patients. I can see it when I re-examine the dogs after medication and the clients say “It is great. He is back to his old, active self again. He is like a young dog!”
These medicines do not cure the bad arthritis, but they do relieve the pain. In the end, that means a happier life for your dog, and for you.