We all want to imagine our dogs as forever young and carefree, running through the sand or jumping into the pool. However, this isn’t always the reality. In fact, arthritis in dogs is becoming an increasingly prevalent health issue.
Characterised by stiff joints and lower levels of activity, arthritis can cause our furry friends a lot of pain. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for arthritis. However, owners everywhere can help to alleviate the common symptoms felt by dogs.
Whether helping at home or taking your pooch to the vet, there are a multitude of ways to help control pain levels. Which, in turn, increases mobility and slows down the degeneration process.
By being informed about arthritis, the symptoms, treatment options and even preventative measures, owners are better placed to care for their pet. Helping you provide your dog with the proper care and the love that they have always shown for you.
Put simply, arthritis is a joint disease that affects both humans and dogs. Typically, arthritis occurs when the cartilage designed to protect bones is destroyed. As a result, joints lose their cushioning, causing certain friction between the bones.
Once cartilage deteriorates, bone movement becomes less smooth, essentially making everyday movements increasingly painful. Additionally, in arthritic dogs, it’s common for the inflamed cartilage to stimulate bony growths, also known as spurs.
It’s also important for owners to note that any of your dog’s joints can be affected by arthritis. However, the most commonly affected joints are the hips, elbows, back, knees and even wrists. You should look out for any signs of a dog leg injury, like your dog limping, as this can be one of the first signs that your dog is struggling with arthritis and as you are the owner it is your responsibility to reach out to your vets to provide your dog with the best care.
Symptoms Of Arthritis
When a dog is suffering from arthritis, it can be difficult for owners to notice immediately. This is because symptoms become obvious as the condition progresses and the pain worsens. It’s also worth noting that most dog breeds tend to hide their pain from owners.
Common signs of arthritis include:
- Limping and lameness
- Pain or stiffness when getting up
- Yelping when touched in certain areas
- Constant licking of certain (affected) joints
- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump
- Taking a narrow stance in the hind legs
- Behavioural changes
- Decreased activity levels
A variety of factors are known to contribute to arthritis in dogs. This is somewhat good news as some of these contributing factors are preventable. Contributing factors range from dog breed and age to weight and mobility.
While dog breed and age are contributing factors that cannot be prevented, it’s worth knowing a few key facts. Firstly, larger dogs like labradors and golden retrievers are more likely to develop arthritis at a young age.
Additionally, when it comes to age, 80% of dogs will show signs of arthritis by the age of 8. Meanwhile, 20% of dogs actually show early signs of developing arthritis from the age of just one.
Preventable Factor #1: Weight
An overweight dog is at an increased risk of developing many illnesses, one of which is arthritis. This is because an overweight dog puts more pressure on joints, causing arthritis. To prevent your dog from developing arthritis, try to keep them at a healthy weight.
Preventable Factor #2: Mobility
When exercising, it can be easy to let dogs go off-leash. However, uncontrolled exercise like running can contribute to developing arthritis. To prevent arthritis, engage in a controlled exercise like swimming which keeps the joints mobile without causing too much pressure.
The Importance Of A Diagnosis
When it comes to treating your beloved pooch for arthritis, an accurate diagnosis is key. While the cartilage damage characterized by arthritis is permanent, there are certain ways to treat pain, depending on the location and severity of the damage.
When diagnosing arthritis, vets will conduct a physical exam and X-ray. During the physical exam, the vet will gauge your dog’s response to pressure and observe their walking patterns. Meanwhile, an X-ray will show the location and severity of the damage.
Once an accurate diagnosis is reached, a vet can tailor a treatment plan for your pooch. This plan will include treatment options and detailed ways that owners can make their pooches comfortable at home. All of which helps you best care for your dog.
Non-Medical Treatment Options
When managing arthritis, there are a lot of non-medical treatment options. For example, your pooch could visit a canine chiropractor or acupuncture provider. Additionally, your dog may even benefit from taking supplements or changing their diet.
In terms of food, look for a perfect mix of dietary fatty acids. While to some, these fatty acids are great for improving the look and feel of your dog’s coat, they have other benefits. Namely, the ability to reduce inflammation and the symptoms of arthritis.
When it comes to supplements, opt for those that provide sulphates. This is because sulphates are essentially the building blocks of healthy cartilage. Recent research even suggests that sulphate supplements help the body make more cartilage.
Medical Treatment Options
There are a range of medical treatments tailored to dogs suffering from arthritis. For example, there is the option to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or, to take steroids.
Additionally, some pets may even undergo surgery. A surgical procedure will clean cartilage debris away from the joints, helping dogs who are severely suffering regain some movements and functions.
Caring For An Arthritic Dog
Most importantly, there are ways to care for your pet at home. While it may be easier to let them sleep the day away, encourage them to take regular, yet small walks. This way an arthritic dog doesn’t lose mobility.
Around the home, make sure that your pet has a comfortable and supportive bed. Provide things like backyard ramps to limit your pet’s need to climb stairs. Finally, every now and again, give your pet a little massage on their affected area to stimulate blood flow.
Arthritis In Dogs
Every pet owner wants the best for their dog. That’s why it can be so heartbreaking to see a beloved pooch suffering from arthritis. To provide the best care possible, stay informed and armed with around the house tips and tricks. This way, in conjunction with your local vet, you can keep your pet as comfortable as possible.