As dogs age they tend to slow down. But in most cases, they should still be able to lie down and get up at will and have the ability to go for walks around the neighborhood. If you notice that your dog has dramatically lost interest in activities that he used to love or is really struggling to get around, a medical condition rather than the normal aging process may be to blame.
A physical examination performed by a veterinarian is the best way to determine what is causing your dog’s behavioral changes. Several different diseases may be to blame, but the most common by far is osteoarthritis. This painful condition is not always easy to diagnose, however. In its early stages, the typical changes may not be visible on an X-ray, and dogs may be extremely stoic in the veterinary clinic, masking the signs of pain during an exam.
One practical method of determining if a dog is in pain is for your vet to prescribe a trial course of a pain relieving medication like Rimadyl, Etogesic, or Deramaxx. If your dog starts acting like a puppy again, you have your answer; his symptoms were related to pain rather than old age. At this point, you and your vet can work together to find the best way to combine pain relievers with other therapies that will keep your pet comfortable and active into his golden years.