What can we learn from monitoring our pets’ postures

  While following activity and exercise is becoming a hot trend, very little attention is given to monitoring stationary positions. In veterinary medicine these stationary positions, or postures, may provide a significant clue to the health and well being of a dog or a cat.  Pets don’t tell us when they feel bad or are in pain. Yet, they are creatures of habit. They like to rest and lay in typical postures in specific locations. Therefore, monitoring and learning this routine and finding deviations from it may help in detecting health changes or the emergence of pain earlier then we would have otherwise. For example, joint disease is very common in older dogs and cats. Cartilage erosion and degenerative changes develop slowly and gradually overtime, accompanied by pain and discomfort (osteoarthritis). Owners often don’t notice the early changes or they attribute their pet’s “slowing down” to age. Monitoring the frequency and amount of time your dog or cat spend in each posture may reveal mild early changes and pain associated with degenerative joint disease. The pet will likely decline to lie down on the painful side and these changes in its routine can be picked up and used to alert its parents and their veterinarian to take action. Monitoring general activity level is important but supplementing it with positional data provides us with a powerful tool to continuously monitor dogs and cats health and pain and allows us to be proactive about their well being.