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How to Spot Joint Issues & Symptoms

Changes in our pets behavior can indicate they may be suffering pain or discomfort. It’s important we stay aware of any changes in our pets and seek veterinary advice when needed, so we’re sharing some of the most common signs of joint discomfort in pets!

1. Lameness 

It may seem obvious but the first signs of lameness can be subtle, if you’re unsure or have concerns about your pet's gait it can be beneficial to record a short slow-motion clip using your smartphone so you can look back and review how they’re moving. 

The clip is also really beneficial if you do visit your vet, especially if the lameness is only occasional or after particular activities. 

2. Changes in appetite 

Some pets will eat regardless of discomfort (Labradors we’re looking at you!). But other pets may start to have changes in their appetite if they’re feeling uncomfortable. If your pet goes from gulping down meals, leaving food in their bowl or refusing snacks it's worth having a chat with your vet! 

3. Irritability 

If you have a multiplet household you may notice a change in tolerance towards the other pets in the house, from being a bit more snappy, spending more time away from them or being reluctant to play their usual games together. If they’re not their usual social self it may be a sign of something underlying. 

4. Slower to rise 

Like many people, as joints become more uncomfortable, simple tasks like getting in and out of bed or up and on the sofa can become a little more difficult. Pain in the joints can cause pets to seem stiff as they get off their bed or in some cases cause pets to completely stop using their favorite sleeping spots. A common example in cats is no longer jumping up onto window or other raised areas they once used to enjoy sleeping on. 

5. Licking joints 

Excessive licking can be a sign of lots of different things, including anxiety, but when focused on a certain joint or area, most commonly around the forepaws, it can be a sign of joint pain. This symptom is often more noticeable in lighter colored pet dogs as the fur can begin to stain a red/brown color due to excessive saliva on the coat. 

6. Uneven wearing of nails 

Some lameness can be subtle but our pet's paws don’t lie! Have a look at your dog's nails, are they all a similar length? If our pets are carrying their weight differently to try and accommodate discomfort in their joints this can cause them to wear their nails unevenly, if your pet has shorter nails on one side compared to another it may be they’re compensating for discomfort when walking and a vet visit is likely needed! 

7. Sleeping more than usual 

A lot of people assume that an increase in sleeping can be just a natural part of aging but for most pets, it's more likely due to feeling too uncomfortable to do many other tasks! 

8. Pacing/Difficulty getting comfortable 

Some pets may start sleeping less, if your pet is suddenly pacing, struggling to get comfortable, readjusting their position frequently or starting to wonder in the night it may be due to joint pain and it could be worth speaking with a vet to have their joints assessed. 

Any changes in your pets normal habits or routine are worth discussing with your vet, the signs we’ve suggested are just a few of the possible changes you may see in pets with joint discomfort but can also be symptoms of other diseases and are worth keeping note of so that you can discuss them with a professional.