Stages of osteoarthritis
OA is a progressive disease consisting of four stages:
- Stage 1: Patient experiences early signs, which are often difficult to identify and most likely to occur in growing or young adult dogs. The signs are typically sporadic, lasting a few seconds/minutes.
- Stage 2: Patient experiences intermittent signs that are considered the first flare-ups. These signs, which last a few hours, are easy for owners to rationalize and ignore. This stage is typically seen in young adult dogs.
- Stage 3: Patient experiences progressive loss of the ability to perform activities of daily living. This stage is more impactful and recognizable by the owner. It is often seen in adult dogs and is evident through exercise intolerance and difficulties for the dog in performing activities of daily living.
- Stage 4: Patient experiences loss of mobility, strength and fitness. As the patient has lost the ability to walk, this stage is much harder for the owner to manage.
It is important to remember that both young and old dogs can be in any of these stages. Historically, most dogs with OA have been diagnosed in stage 3 or 4. Ideally, however, veterinary teams must be cognizant of the earlier stages so they recognize the signs of OA sooner.