Arthritis in Dogs
Tips for Treating Arthritis in Dogs
Just like humans, dogs can develop arthritis but in addition, they experience the same symptoms. In reality, this is a common health problem although some breeds and situations create a greater risk. With the information provided, you will understand the primary risk factors, preventative steps that can be taken, common symptoms, and both conventional and alternative treatment options available today.
Dogs at Greatest Risk
Because arthritis in dogs is common, it is important to become educated about the disease. With this, you have the opportunity to take preventative measures but also recognize the onset of arthritis early so an appropriate treatment can be sought. Keep in mind that while experts believe there is a genetic factor involved, currently no one specific breed is considered to be at higher risk. Additionally, the disease does not affect one gender over another. However, the following are some of reasons for increased risk:
- Breeds with a disposition for developing elbow and/or hip dysplasia, elbow osteochondrosis, cranial cruciate ligament tear/rupture, and patellar luxation to include the Bernese Mountain Dog, Labrador Retriever, and Rottweiler, among many others
- Dogs that roam freely due to increased risk of injury that can lead to arthritis
- Large and heavy breeds
- Overweight dogs
- Extremely athletic and working dogs
Arthritis in dogs has to do with degeneration of a joint, which can be non-inflammatory, inflammatory, or traumatic. While the most common type of arthritis is called “Degenerative Joint Disease” or DJD, the reason that arthritis in dogs develops most often is from some kind of secondary problem such as a sprain, fracture, direct trauma, or even obesity.
In truth, there are many known reasons for arthritis in dogs and because of this prevention can be difficult. Even so, there are some measures that you can take to reduce the risk to your beloved pet to include examples provided below:
- Obesity – It is imperative that you keep your dog’s weight within a normal and healthy range
- Exercise – Make sure your dog is provided outdoor play time and exercise daily while keeping the time and intensity limited according to the dog’s age, weight, and health
- Bedding – Offer your pet a soft, padded bed to sleep on
- Activity – Restrict your animal from jumping or performing specific activities that might irritate or cause injury to the joint
- Supplements – Some natural supplements such as Omega 3 can help strengthen cartilage
- Diet – Always provide your dog with high quality and natural food, whether in the form of a commercial product or something you make at home
Symptoms of Arthritis
Identifying arthritis in dogs is relatively easy, especially if you have owned the animal for some time since it would be easier to spot small changes. Just remember that most symptoms develop slowly and because of that, they can be missed. The specific things you want to watch for include:
- low or reluctant to rise or move
- Weight gain
- Pain and/or swelling of the joint area
- Occasional lameness
- Intolerance to exercise or physical activity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability and/or aggression when the joint area is touched
- Lack of appetite
- Abnormal stance while standing or walking
If you begin to notice any of these changes, the dog will need to be seen by a reputable veterinarian for treatment. It is also important to note that if not treated, this disease will progress quickly and eventually reach a point of causing significant pain but also debilitation and crippling.
Treating Arthritis in Dogs
As stated, there are a number of conventional and alternative treatment options for dogs with arthritis. The most important thing is to work with a trusted veterinarian who has experience in treating this particular disease.
- Non-Surgical Treatments
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that will not only reduce the amount of inflammation but also pain
- Opiods that also help with pain relief
- Chondroprotective agents that help strengthen joint cartilage
- Moderate exercise has also been proven to stimulate the repair of cartilage but this needs to be approved by the veterinarian first
- Rehabilitation – One treatment option if the arthritis has not progressed too much is rehabilitation therapy. A licensed therapist will use a variety of therapies to strengthen the joint, improve range of motion, improve mobility, and provide your pet with pain relief. Of course, rehabilitation can also be used in combination with other treatments even in cases where the arthritis has progressed.
- Hydrotherapy – Massage Therapy – Physical Therapy
- Chiropractic Manipulation – This too is effective in treating arthritis in dogs. A qualified professional can realign the joint, which in turn reduces inflammation and pain
- supplements – In addition to being beneficial as a preventative measure, some supplements such as chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine work great for arthritis in dogs
- Weight Management – With this, your dog’s ideal weight would be determined and then a special diet chosen to reach that goal
- Acupuncture – This has actually been a popular and effective method of treating arthritis in dogs as well. Of course, acupuncture must be administered by a trained individual.
- Arthroscopy – This minimally invasive surgery is used to access and repair damage to the joint
- Joint Fusion – With this, metal implants are inserted to fuse joints
- Joint Replacement – As a last resort, the damaged hip can be replaced. The downside is that this surgery is painful and recovery time is long but once healed, your dog would act and feel completely different.
(Beside the use of a lot of bullet points)
The bottom line is that while arthritis in dogs is common, it must be properly treated to provide relief from inflammation and pain. However, treatment should also include correction to the damaged cartilage to prevent any further damage from being done.