Identifying arthritis in man’s best friend

It’s estimated that arthritis affects more than 10 million people in the UK and those suffering will understand how painful and debilitating the condition can be.

Julia Robertson, the founder of Galen Myotherapy, a unique hands-on manual muscle treatment that helps dogs suffering from arthritis, is keen to raise awareness that it’s not just humans that can suffer with this painful and limiting condition. Galen Therapy Centre was set up back in 2002 and treats scores of arthritic dogs of all ages and breeds every year.

Julia is urging dog owners to consider whether their four-legged friends could be in pain.

Spotting arthritis early and making a plan to manage a dog’s pain will help the pet long term, and stop the condition becoming unbearable.   The problem is spotting the tale tell signs as dogs invariably only want to please and this ingrained devotion means they often suffer in silence.

They can also struggle to communicate their pain so they may not start to show the physical effects of arthritis, such as a limp or reluctance to walk, or other behavioural indicators such as licking or chewing their paws, groaning, or not being able to settle, until they are in agony.

As with humans, arthritis can also be prevalent in young dogs. Osteoarthritis is often a secondary condition brought about by previous damage to muscle.  If a pet suffered an injury or accident as a puppy or in its younger years, they could be more susceptible in the future.

Equipping people with as much knowledge as possible is key.  Understanding and looking for changes physically and behaviourally can help identify the pain pointers.

Signs can include:

  • Uneven walking – are they avoiding putting weight on one particular leg?
  • Stiffness, especially when getting up after they’ve been laying down/sitting for a while
  • Licking or chewing their feet possibly as a pain referral, as we get ‘pins and needles’ or a numb hand or foot.
  • Avoidance of grooming, stroking or being touched in a specific area
  • Lameness or limping
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty/reluctance to do a physical activity they never struggled with previously
  • Change in body shape and posture– neck (collar size) possibly with shoulders becoming larger (sometimes thought of as being overweight), hind quarters looking ‘smaller’, and a hunch developing
  • Having difficulty going to the loo, or holding a position going to the loo

Fifi, a Terrier/Chihuahua visited Galan for treatment as her arthritis was causing her pain and her owners had identified that she was hunching her back and walking awkwardly, she licked her feet and she also did not like touched.

Fifi before treatment

Galen used their unique hands-on manual muscle treatment, Myotherapy on her, and all her symptoms ceased.  The treatment helps dogs suffering from arthritis and the agonising secondary compensatory muscular issues causing additional underlying pain which can be seen in these before and after images.

Fifi after treatment

The advantages of Myotherapy include:

  • Eases chronic pain that has a massively negative effect on them both physically and psychologically
  • Eases the painful postural changes to pain avoidance
  • Helping mobility aids general health
  • Eases chronic muscle pain and tension all over the body
  • Helps ease muscular tension/pain created by compensatory/postural issues
  • Eases behavioural issues such as licking or chewing
  • Allows them to sleep more restfully
  • Enriches quality of life
  • Eases stress and related symptoms from experiencing constant chronic pain
  • Being less reactive
  • Enhances your relationship by easing a dog’s pain perception
  • A ‘feel good’ factor for the handler

For more information about canine arthritis and how Galen Myotherapy can help with a better quality of life, please visit

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