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Published: Aug 16, 2012

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis can affect people of all ages as well as dogs. In fact, the condition affects one in every five adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common sources of chronic pain that veterinarians treat.

The Arthritis Foundation reports that signs your dog is suffering from arthritis include favoring a limb, difficulty sitting or standing, increased sleep, the appearance of stiff or sore joints and hesitancy to run, jump or climb stairs. Weight gain, decreased activity or disinterest in playing, attitude or behavior changes and decreased alertness may also signal that your pet has the condition.

Osteoarthritis, which is also known as degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis in dogs. There are several factors that contribute to the condition, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Hip dysplasia in dogs, obesity, joint injuries and other joint conditions are commonly associated with arthritic animals.

The condition can affect dogs of any age. However, it is more common as pets age and large-breed dogs are more likely to suffer from arthritis than smaller dogs.

Because your dog can't vocalize his discomfort, owners with dogs that show any of the clinical signs of arthritis for more than two weeks should make an appointment at their veterinary hospital. Diagnosis involves a physical exam by a vet as well as x-rays in many cases.

Even though arthritis can cause your pet a lot of physical pain, there are ways to treat it and ensure he continues to live a full and healthy life.

In fact, treating arthritis in dogs is similar to treating it in humans. Taking measures such as maintaining a proper weight through a healthy diet and adequate exercise as well as using medications including analgesics like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the arthritis pain.

However, analgesic medications can cause side effects such as decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Veterinarians must also perform blood tests on animals taking these drugs to ensure they can safely metabolize them.

Pet owners are reminded to never give over-the-counter medications to their animals without first checking with a pet health expert, as certain medications can be toxic and dosages may differ greatly in animals.

Nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) as well as nutraceuticals such as glucosamine and/or chondroitin are also believed to offer some relief to animals suffering from arthritis.