Dogs may show signs of arthritis at an age as early as 1 year. We cannot determine the bones condition by looking at our dog and need to do an X-Ray or MRI to see if there are any signs of it. Arthritis in dogs is as painful as in humans and so timely detection and treatment are required before the condition worsens.
Arthritis in dogs can be a result of many possible reasons. In this blog we will explore the causes and treatment for arthritis in dogs. But first let’s start with understanding what arthritis is.
What is Arthritis in Dogs?
Arthritis being a common health condition affects many dogs, especially as they age. It is a painful and often unbearable disease that affects the joints, causing stiffness, pain, and reduced mobility.
Healthy joints are characterized by the presence of cartilage, a smooth and protective tissue that cushions the space between two bones in the joints. On the other hand, the presence of damaged or broken cartilage in the joints can lead to pain and swelling, indicating unhealthy joint conditions. When the condition becomes worse, bones rub with each other, causing more pain and joint damage.
The degenerative joint disease or Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent joint issue in dogs and it may cause progressive damage to the cartilage surrounding them.
Detecting arthritis in your furry pal early in time is crucial in order to initiate early treatment. By doing so, you can effectively minimize discomfort and alleviate the painful symptoms that may impede your pet’s mobility.
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What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in dogs and it is caused by the gradual wear and tear of the joints over a period of time. The general factors that contribute to causing arthritis are:
As dogs grow older, their cartilage will begin to deteriorate. Arthritis is more common in senior dogs, but young dogs also suffer from arthritis.
Many large breed dogs are more prone to arthritis and their mobility decreases due to genetics or their breed tendency to develop arthritis later in life. Such dog breeds include Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Rottweilers.
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3. Excess weight
Obesity can put extra stress on the joints and cartilage, leading to arthritis and joint health problems.
4. Hereditary defects
Various dog breeds with hereditary diseases are more prone to developing arthritis when they grow older.
5. Accidents or Trauma
Trauma caused by injuries or accidents damages the cartilage, hence resulting in arthritis in old age and affecting mobility in your dog.
In rare cases, an infection can cause destruction of cartilage and joint tissue and lead to inflammation in the joints.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
The signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs can be subtle and develop slowly over time.
Some common indicators of arthritis in dogs include:
- Limping or favoring one or more limbs
- Stiffness or difficulty in moving, particularly after exercise or rest
- Changes in the way your dog normally sits
- Reluctance to jump, run, or plays
- Reduced activity level or decreased interest in activities
- Difficulty standing up or lying down
- Sleeps more and licks their joints
- Swelling or heat in the joints
- Loss of muscle mass
- Behavioral changes like increased irritability and aggression
These signs are clearly more noticeable in cold or wet weather or when they start to exercise.
Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs
Treatment for any dog with arthritis involves lifestyle changes. There is no cure for arthritis in dogs, but many treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and improve your dog’s life quality. Here are some common cures for arthritis in dogs:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often given to help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Other therapies that include corticosteroids or joint care supplements are also recommended by expert veterinarians. The treatment your vet advises will depend on your dog’s age and overall health.
Joint care supplements are composed of three essential ingredients namely Glucosamine, Green lipped Mussel, and Chondroitin. Let’s understand the benefits of these ingredients:
- Glucosamine reduces pain and promotes mobility by preventing further cartilage deterioration and increasing protective joint fluid.
- Green Lipped Mussel: It is a powerful and natural anti-inflammatory used to reduce joint pain and swelling. And is an abundant natural source of omega-3.
- Chondroitin helps in improving joint function and rebuilds cartilage. This reduces inflammation and relieves pain.
2. Weight Management
This includes both weight loss and diet management. If your dog is overweight, your vet may recommend a weight loss program to help reduce the stress on their joints, which will decrease pain. Your vet is the perfect person to recommend a customized diet plan to help your dog lose weight.
3. Exercise and Physical Therapy
Regular exercise and physical therapy can help improve your dog’s strength, flexibility, and mobility. Exercise will help reduce pain your dog feels and will make them feel better. Make your dog exercise only on soft and stable surfaces so it is gentle on their joints and is less painful.
In severe cases, your vet may recommend surgery to repair a torn ligament or replace damaged joints. Other surgeries include joint replacement or cutting off the damaged joint, depending on the location and severity of arthritis.
Additional treatments that your vet may recommend include ultrasound, laser, magnetic therapy, acupuncture, or stem cell therapy. The main purpose of arthritis treatment in dogs is to improve your dog’s mobility and increase their comfort levels, to live a healthy life.
Arthritis in dogs can be a painful and devastating condition, but various treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life. If you notice any signs or symptoms of arthritis in your dog, you must speak to your vet as soon as possible to determine the best treatment course for your pet.