Original Question: Molly is now having trouble getting up from a seated position. I'm thinking now that she's 10 it might be arthritis setting in. It takes her a while to get up and then she limps on one of her legs for the first few steps. I'm just wondering if there are any supplements I can give her to help with the stiffness and lameness? - Anne
This is a common symptom that I have seen many times. I can’t be certain about what is causing it as I am not the attending veterinarian, but I can give you some thoughts on the conditions that can cause a symptom like this.
There are many reasons why dogs may develop these clinical symptoms of difficulty rising. I think you need to perform more diagnostics and have a thorough examination.
The dogs that I have seen develop symptoms like these usually have either a source of pain, a musculoskeletal disease or a neurological disease. First I would recommend that you have your veterinarian examine your dog for any back pain, and neck pain which is incredibly important to assess. Neck pain can be a significant source of discomfort and is sometimes not well examined in a routine visit. If you feel that the exam was not entirely thorough, I recommend you find a second opinion.
Assessing for arthritis means more than just feeling the joints. There could be damage to joints deep inside the body that are causing pain that can’t be palpated from the outside during a routine examination. I suggest you have X-rays performed of the joints, the spine, and the neck before you rule out this as a source of the problem.
There are neurological diseases that can cause symptoms like these but I would think this is much less likely. If your dog is having trouble advancing their limbs forward or placing their paws down in the wrong place, I would recommend that you visit with a neurologist to evaluate for any deficiencies here. A neurologist would be best suited to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions.
Lastly, keep in mind that other diseases could be festering under the surface causing discomfort or lack of proper body positioning, such as bladder infection, kidney infection, heart disease, etc. Be sure to perform more specific diagnostic testing and imaging to evaluate these other conditions if your veterinarian suspects them after a routine physical exam.
As for your question about supplements. Joint inflammation and cartilage damage can be slowed by using glucosamine products. These are widely available but their clinical effectiveness is not consistent across every patient. They are certainly safe so there is no concern in trying them, but keep in mind it could be difficult to assess the response and success of treatment. Also, keep in mind that you may not have the right diagnosis so it is always wise to confirm it. There are other therapeutic strategies that you should consider and we outline them thoroughly in our article about arthritis, “7 Strategies for Treating Arthritis in Pets” for more information on this topic.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway