Millions of dog owners could be unaware their pet is suffering from pain and mobility issues – because they’re unable to identify tell-tale signs, a study has found.
Indicators a dog could be struggling with mobility issues include being slow to get to their feet after a rest, or showing difficulty going up and down stairs.
But a poll of 2,000 dog owners found just one in five are completely confident they know how to spot their dog is suffering.
And more than one in 10 admitted they don’t have any idea what signs to look out for, with three quarters believing their pooch slowing down is nothing more than old age.
But as a result, 15 per cent of unsuspecting dog owners, polled by Lintbells, have been informed their dog was struggling with joint pain or mobility issues they knew nothing about.
Vet Rachel Hylton, speaking on behalf of Lintbells, said:
Mobility issues can develop at any time in a dog’s life and if the change is gradual, you may not notice it happening at all, so it is important to continuously assess their mobility.
A reluctance to go on walks, or a decline in how quickly they move could be a tell tale sign your dog could be experiencing problems with mobility.
Other things to watch out for include repeatedly turning in circles before lying down, or a newly developed fear of loud noises.
They may also have difficulty holding a body position when toileting, and pacing for no reason, especially at night.
The study also revealed only a fifth of owners recognise that becoming more fearful or defensive of other dogs can be a sign their pet is starting to experience problems.
And the average owner believes dogs only start to struggle with mobility or joint stiffness from the age of nine.
A quarter of owners also view their dog as ‘too young’ to be dealing with issues around their movement.
But more than eight in 10 dog owners say it upsets them to think their beloved pooch could be suffering because they are unable to spot the signs.
It also emerged that a staggering 40 per cent of dog owners polled via OnePoll believe their pet could be struggling with mobility or joint stiffness.
And of those who have diagnosed their dog with a problem, a quarter have reduced play time as a result.
Another 46 per cent have cut the distance of their walks, and one quarter have even made changes to their homes such as adding ramps or non-slip mats.
Even if your pet is experiencing difficulties with their mobility, they can still live a happy and fulfilled life.
You should always consult your vet if your dog is experiencing joint difficulties, as it is important to get a diagnosis to identify how you can help.
Gemma Cunningham, YuMOVE Brand Manager at Lintbells added:
We are very excited to launch National Dog Mobility Awareness Week as we understand that mobility plays a huge part in maintaining a good quality of life.
With the ‘PAWS’ system we hope to see pet owners become more confident to identify the signs of joint stiffness and loss of mobility to ensure they can take action before it impacts negatively on their pets’ physical and emotional wellbeing.
These are some of the signs your dog may be struggling with their joints or mobility:
• A change in the way they walk or run, often slower, limping and/or head nodding as they walk or trot
• Reluctance to jump up or down (e.g. into the car or onto the sofa)
• Reluctant or significantly slower on a daily walk
• Slow to get to their feet from rest
• Repeated attempts/reluctance to lie down, often turning in circles
• Avoid/nervous on slippery surfaces such as laminate floors
• Difficulty on steps/stairs and slopes
• Licking at their joints
• Newly developed fear of loud noises
• Unexplained changes in personality, generally more ‘grumpy’
• More defensive towards other dogs
• Loss of muscle mass around legs, shoulders or hips, may increase size elsewhere to compensate
• Reduced desire to play games
• A ‘hunched’ posture
• Unexplained ‘pacing’, often at night
• Difficulty holding body position while toileting
To help owners identify whether their dog is experiencing joint stiffness or mobility issues, Lintbells have launched the first ever National Dog Mobility Awareness Week, which begins on the 27th May.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.