What Is Dog Arthritis Exactly
As dogs get older, the cartilage surfaces of their joints begin to thin, and cartilage cells die. When the cells die, they release enzymes that cause inflammation of the joint capsule and release of excessive joint fluid. Extra bony growths can develop. With severe cartilage thinning, the normal joint space narrows and the bone beneath the cartilage deteriorates.
All of these processes set in motion further changes in the normal functioning of the dogâs joint, and an ongoing spiral of pain, lameness, limb disuse/inactivity plus, muscle atrophy sets in.
Nutraceuticals And Dietary Supplements
Nutraceuticals are food supplements with a drug-like action.
For many years, people have commented on how much chondroitin and glucosamine improved their pets mobility, and now the evidence is catching up as scientists learn about how nutraceuticals work.
The most commonly used nutraceuticals act in 1 of 2 ways:
Whether you believe they work or not, nutraceuticals are safe to give alongside conventional medicine, so theres nothing to lose except the purchase price.
What Are The Treatment Options For Arthritis In Dogs
Because arthritis is worsened by obesity and lack of exercise, it is important that you keep your dogs weight under control and their activity levels at a normal level. Non-medical treatment options in addition to drug therapy can be prescribed to treat arthritis in dogs. Pain medication will likely be prescribed to your dog to assist in the pain and discomfort felt due to the degeneration of the joints. In addition, anti-inflammatory pills will likely be prescribed, in addition to joint therapy treatments for a set period of time.
Non-medical treatment options for treating arthritis in dogs include:
- Weight management to decrease further stress added to your dogs joints
- Dietary changes eating dog food with high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid , an omega-3 fatty acid that has shown to have success in decreasing joint inflammation
- Exercise to help loosen stiff joints
- Physical rehabilitation includes cold and heat therapy, canine massage, stretching, and range-of-motion exercises
- Acupuncture to relieve pain in joints
These non-medical treatments may also be prescribed with drug treatments to further increase your dogs comfort levels. There are three main families of drugs prescribed to treat arthritis in dogs: cartilage protectors, NSAIDS , and feed supplements.
Medications To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
Your veterinarian may decide to perform a blood test to determine if your dog is eligible for prescription medication, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories , to help manage arthritis pain. If your dog is suitable, your veterinarian will work with you on the specifics of dosage and administering the medication. Remember that human NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen or Naproxen, are toxic medications to dogs and should never be given to them for pain relief.
Risk Of Arthritis In Dogs
While there is no predisposition for certain breeds or genders of dog to develop arthritis, age is definitely a big risk factor. Also, breeds that are prone to other health conditions like canine hip dysplasia, elbow osteochondrosis and dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament ruptures, and patellar luxation may have an increased risk for arthritis to develop as a secondary condition.
Dogs that are free to roam are at greater risk of developing arthritis because this increases their chances of suffering a traumatic injury. This is also true of working dogs, athletic dogs, and dogs that are overweight. Dog breeds that are naturally large and heavy also are at a higher risk of arthritis and even genetics is thought to play a role in a dogs predisposition to the disease.
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Activity Modifications For Dogs With Arthritis
Historically it was thought that dogs with arthritis should limit their activity, and exercise restriction was prescribed. It turns out this recommendation is incorrect and if strictly followed, would contribute to your dog gaining weight, having stiff joints, losing muscle, and experiencing a decline in their functional abilities.
When people have arthritis of the knees and hips, exercises including progressive resistance training, quadriceps strengthening, aquatic exercise, land-based exercise such as walking, and aerobics have all been found to decrease pain and help with weight loss, which also helps to reduce joint pain. In fact, the benefit of walking was shown to be similar to that of NSAIDs!
The American College of Rheumatology recommends aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening and preservation of joint mobility as key components of managing arthritis naturally. These recommendations are also true for dogs with arthritis!
Arthritis Treatment For Stages 1 & 2
Dogs with stage 1 or stage 2 arthritis may not be struggling significantly in their condition, but they will require treatment to help slow the progression of their arthritis.
This involves starting your dog on an approved joint supplement, making sure their diet is approved by your veterinarian, and by keeping them at an ideal weight.
Each of these factors combined can help to prevent further joint damage in your dog, and potentially offer them longevity they would not have otherwise.
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What Are The Signs That Your Dog Has Arthritis
If youre worried that your dog could be suffering from arthritis, here are some signs to look out for:
- Stiff or lethargic movement
- Loss of energy
- Pain when being touched
If your dog shows these signs, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible so they can provide the proper dog arthritis treatment.
Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs Include:
- Aggression, especially when you touch them near or on a painful joint
- Stiffness, especially if they are stiff after a long period of rest or vigorous exercise
- Reluctance to get up as well as move around
- Intermittent lameness
- No interest in exercise or physical activity
- Exercise intolerance
- Joints that feel warm and tender
- Joints that are painful to touch
- Joints that have visible deformities
- Abnormal stance when they walk
- Joints that grind
You may notice that your dog takes a little longer than normal to get up after a night of rest or takes a little longer to get moving after his nap during the day. Unfortunately, because dogs with arthritis may spend more time at rest, weight gain can be a problem and make their symptoms worse. Another thing that is common with arthritis and dogs is even if only one joint is affected, the lameness in one joint can cause additional weight to be put upon your dogs other joints because they are favoring the one that hurts. This can lead to arthritis in his other joints as well.
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Natural Treatments For Arthritis Pain In Dogs: Exploring Your Options
While your vet knows best, occasionally the pain medications prescribed to dogs suffering from arthritis may have negative effects. Arthritis medication can cause damage to a dogs internal organs, explains Dr. Darla Rewers, DVM, of the Ancient Arts Holistic Veterinary Team.
Dogs on arthritis pain meds often need regular bloodwork to check liver and kidney values. NSAIDs and steroids can cause stomach ulcers, too, she says.
Thats why natural treatments may be an alternative option for concerned pet owners.
Consult Your Vet For Effective Treatments
Arthritis can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, dietary supplements and chondroprotective agents. Your vet may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease inflammation and pain. Chondroprotective agents such as Cartrophen help the body repair cartilage and stimulate its function. Speak to your vet about whether these treatments are right for your dog.
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Your Vet Will Look For A Change In Gait
Often, dogs with arthritis in the hind end will have some degree of muscle wasting around the hips and back legs. This can be subtle in the early stages of canine arthritis, so it takes a trained eye to see it. Your veterinarian may also try to elicit signs of pain by extending and flexing the rear legs, as well as pushing gently over the hips and lower back.
A gaiting exam should be next. I often take my client and patient out to the parking lot for this and tell them to pretend they are at Westminster as I observe the dog walk and trot. In this way, I can localize the dogs discomfort and hone in on the diagnosis.
The physical exam and history are step one. Diagnostics generally come next, although it is not uncommon to treat an arthritic dog without further testing. Often, the history and physical exam are enough to make a presumptive diagnosis, and your veterinarian may simply offer some therapies to try at home.
Weight Management & Nutrition
One of the most important aspects of managing arthritis is making sure your pup maintains a healthy weight.
Excess weight will only further complicate their condition, and lead to more joint deterioration as time passes.
Your vet will likely discuss the best ways to keep your pup slim and trim, and may even suggest prescription diets that are created for optimal joint health.
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When To Contact Your Vet
Symptoms of arthritis often develop slowly which means it can be difficult to know when to seek help. Get in touch with your vet if you notice any of the symptoms listed above.
Older dogs benefit from regular check-ups so your vet can pick up any early signs of arthritis.
You know your dog best. If you are still concerned, contact your vet.
Rehab Or Physical Therapy
Canine rehabilitation and physical therapy specialists work with dogs that are arthritic or out of condition to improve limb function, rebuild muscle and assist in weight management. Specific exercises for arthritic pets, such as little jumps known as cavalettis, may be tailored to enhance limb movement while providing comfort. Helping an arthritic dogs ability to move around better will allow it to exercise more and improve its muscle tone while assisting in weight loss.
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Osteoarthritis In Dogs: Symptoms & Management
According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, osteoarthritis affects up to one quarter of dogs. Unlike arthritis in general, osteoarthritis in dogs refers specifically to the degeneration of cartilage in your pet’s joints and is most common in mature and senior dogs. Read on to learn how you can be on the lookout for the signs of arthritis in dogs and how to help your pet if he develops this condition.
Can Surgery Be Used To Treat Arthritis
Most dogs with osteoarthritis can live a very good quality of life with a combination of medications and lifestyle management. However, there are some cases where surgery can be a good option. This can be because conventional medical management is not providing sufficient levels of comfort or where medications are not well tolerated by patients.
Surgical options depend on the joint or joints affected. Surgery can be divided into three main types:
These surgeries are considered salvage procedures. They do not return the joints to normal but can allow animals to live a happier and more active life than they are able to before surgery.
What Are The Causes Of Dog Arthritis
Several factors can contribute to your dogs damaged joints and cartilage. These include:
- Age: Older dogs tend to develop arthritis as their joints begin to weaken and wear out.
- Injuries: Frequent injuries, such as fractures or ruptured ligaments, can increase a dogs chance of damaging its joints and cartilage.
- Size & Weight: Large, heavy dogs are more prone to arthritis. The added weight puts more pressure and stress on the joints which speed up their deterioration.
- Genetics: Some breeds of dogs are more likely to develop arthritis because of body structure and development.
Can You See Visible Signs Of Arthritic Swelling
What we often see is degenerative muscle wastage because your dog does not use the affected leg there can be signs of limping and general muscle mass loss over the spine and affected areas. Osteoarthritis commonly affects areas such as the hips, knee joint, shoulders and elbows, and sadly the condition worsens over time degrading the cartilage between the joints and the carpal joint in the front leg. It is not uncommon for dogs to experience pain along the spinal column as a result of the body compensating for areas of weakness.
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Should You Walk A Dog With Arthritis
Yes moderate, low-impact exercise is encouraged no matter what. This can, in fact, help doggies with arthritis move easier, and also prevents weight gain which can add further stress to their joints.
If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, they might not enjoy activities that they previously did, such as high-impact running, jumping or agility games.
However, this is by no means a sign that they should stop exercising altogether.
Take it step-by-step. Instead, the goal should be to increase their heart rate sufficiently so that they remain active.
Its fundamental that they maintain some form of muscular strength, and that you as their owner do all you can to preserve their remaining mobility.
Try a couple of minutes of gentle playing or walking before initiating a range of low-impact exercises, or short, frequent walks. Gentle exercise or walking can also help to reduce cramp, injury or sprains.
Potential Causes Of Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis in dogs legs or other joints is associated with ageing, and is most commonly seen in older pets. There are other risk factors that predispose a dog to developing arthritis.
Any cause of abnormal loading of weight on the joints can increase degeneration of the cartilage. These include joint abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, incorrect joint development from under or over exercise as a puppy, or an injury that affects the joint such as ligament damage and fractures.
There are also certain breeds which can be genetically predisposed to arthritis including Labradors, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers. Its worth nothing that while these breeds are more predisposed to it, arthritis can affect any dog breed as they age.
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Are There Supplements That Help To Prevent Arthritis In Dogs
The prescription diets such as Hills, JD, Royal Canin Mobility are all specifically formulated and fortified with omega fatty acids, fish oils, glucosamine and supplements that protect the joints. While there are numerous homeopathic and home remedies out there, there is no
conclusive evidence that ingredients such as turmeric are in fact effective.
Cbd Oil To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
A treatment option that has gained popularity in recent years is using CBD oil to treat arthritis in dogs. In short, CBD is a compound found in cannabis and hemp that some dog owners, as well as humans, find effective in treating a variety of conditions. Some anecdotal reports suggest that CBD oil can help dogs with arthritis pain. However, Dr. Klein reminds us that currently there is no scientific data on the use or benefits of CBD.
Additionally, limited regulation of CBD oil makes it difficult for veterinarians to sign off on its use since there is no way of predicting purity, concentration, efficacy, potential benefits, or side effects. While the unknowns surrounding CBD will change with more research , at this time, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of CBD oil for canine arthritis or any other ailments. If youre considering CBD oil as a treatment, make sure to speak to your veterinarian first.
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The Causes Of Osteoarthritis In Dogs
Many variables can contribute to the development of arthritis in dogs. Aside from osteoarthritis, dogs can develop joint problems from infectious diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and Lyme disease. The British Veterinary Association explains that genetic conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia can also put a dog at risk.
Other causes are more preventable. Obesity in pets places undue strain on the joints and often results in premature degenerative disease. Osteoarthritis is just one of the problems associated with overweight dogs, together with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Traumatic injuries can occur at any age, and present the risk of inducing lifelong osteoarthritis in dogs. Car accidents are the most common source of bone trauma that results in cartilage damage.
What Is Arthritis In Dogs
With the canine joint playing such a vital role in movement, you can begin to understand how much of an impact arthritis has on a dog.
Arthritis is the degeneration or inflammation of the canine joint, causing the cartilage within the joint to become brittle over time.
Not only can this be extremely painful for the dog affected, but it can make it extremely challenging to carry out normal tasks.
The cartilage in a dogs joint acts as a cushion each time they take a step. When the cushion between the connecting bones becomes brittle over time, this increases the risk of damage to the connecting bones.
The ends of the bone can begin to rub together, causing even more inflammation in an already irritated joint.
Not only can the bones begin to rub together, but the healthy joint fluid produced in the cartilage will decrease as well.
Without this necessary lubrication of the joint, boney formations can begin to form in the area. When this happens, an already stiff joint will become even more limited.
Inflammation is not only painful for a dog, but it can lead to a devastating cycle of destruction.
The longer the inflammation is present in a joint without medical intervention, the more damage you can expect to see down the line.
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