Treating Arthritis In Dogs
As your veterinarian will explain, there are a variety of different options to treat arthritis in dogs. Your plan may include a combination of management solutions and ultimately will depend on your dog and his specific situation. That being said, these are some of the most common ways to manage arthritis pain in dogs.
Arthritis In Old Dogs
Arthritis in old dogs is one of the main causes of lameness and joint pain in dogs. It affects about 80 percent of dogs who are 8 years old or older.
In this and several other posts to come, you will find an ultimate dog parents guide to joint pain and arthritis in old dogs.
We will look at what arthritis is, its causes and symptoms, and various treatment options. I will also give you information on common conventional arthritis medications and supplements. Finally, I will write about some natural joint pain relief.
Phew! A lot of information to cover, but hopefully it will be of help to you and your pawsome oldies!
Lets start Part 1 of our Ultimate Dog Parents Guide to Arthritis in Old Dogs.
What Is Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis in dogs is a long-lasting, inflammatory disease which affects the animals joint health. It is caused when the cartilage between joints becomes less smooth and damaged, causing the surface of the bone to rub together and your dogs joints to stiffen, swell and become painful.
These symptoms can restrict a dogs mobility, as it becomes uncomfortable for them to get up and walk around. Although more prevalent in senior dogs, young pets can also suffer from arthritis if they become injured, such as tearing their cruciate ligament, or if they have weak muscles and muscle loss.
Also Check: How Do I Stop Arthritis In My Fingers
Choosing The Right Treatment Options
Some of you may wonder, Which treatment options should I use for my old dog? Or you may wonder whether its best to start off using natural remedies and supplements, and if they dont work, move on to something more potent like NSAIDs.
Unfortunately, theres no one-size-fits-all type of answer. It all depends on factors such as the age of your dog, the severity of the arthritis, and how much pain the dog is in.
While it is true that natural remedies are milder and safer, it may NOT be the first treatment of choice for YOUR dog.
For example, if your dog has severe pain and his quality of life is next to zero, its not a good idea to try different natural remedies while your dog is suffering, is it? Natural remedies usually take time to work.
In such a case, to improve your dogs quality of life, its better to use arthritis medications short term to ease your dogs pain.
Once the pain has subsided somewhat, you could then consider complementing the drugs with supplements and natural remedies, so that over time maybe lower drug dosages can be used. Sometimes, eventually you may even get the dog off NSAIDs completely.
On the other hand, if your dog has just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis and has only started to show some signs of discomfort , then supplements and natural remedies may well be sufficient to manage the problem.
How To Strengthen An Old Dogs Hind Legs
As your dog ages, weakening legs can contribute to the discomfort and limitations created by arthritis. While some weakening is a natural part of aging, you can help strengthen your dogs legsand maintain that strengththrough simple lifestyle habits and by being careful not to overwork your dog and increase its risk of injury.
Regular walks, for example, are one of the best ways to strengthen your dogs hind legs. These walks dont have to be long, and you shouldnt walk for so long that your dog becomes labored or even limping. A little exercise can go a long way. You can also massage the muscles in your dogs hind legs to promote blood flow and recovery from these walks.
If your home has slippery indoor surfaces, such as wood or tile floors, your dog might also benefit from grippy shoes that aid in walking and maintaining traction on the floor. Better footing can sometimes promote hind length strength. At the very least, it will reduce the risk of injury.
Read Also: What’s The Youngest Age To Get Arthritis
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.
Surgical Options For Canine Arthritis
There are several surgical arthritis in dogs treatment options. Which one is best for your dog is something you need to discuss with a DVM.
Total Joint Replacement. This is surgical arthritis in dogs treatment where the entire hip joint is removed in dogs with joint health problems like arthritis and hip dysplasia. Joint replacement is not cost-efficient for older dogs.
During the procedure, both the ball and socket are replaced with artificial components. The ball is usually replaced with a metallic ball while the socket is replaced with a plastic socket.
Removal of the Femoral Head. This surgical arthritis in dogs treatment involves the cutting of the head and neck of the femur . After the surgery, the scar tissue helps to stabilize the joint.
The surgery is mostly done in small animals since they dont have as much weight to support. After about three months, a small dogs hip joint is expected to be functioning as normal.
Arthrodesis. This is more complex arthritis in dogs treatment option. It refers to a procedure where the two bones at the joint levels are cut and fused together to form one bone. The orthopedic surgeon removes the cartilage at the joint, cuts a portion of the bones off, and joins them.
Arthroscopic Surgery. Arthroscopy is popular arthritis in dogs treatment option as it is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the preservation of joint stability. Plus, it allows the veterinary surgeon to examine the joint cartilage up close.
How To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
If you suspect that your dog has arthritis or it has been diagnosed by a vet then it is important to manage the condition to ensure that your dog is as comfortable as possible.
Although arthritis cannot be cured there are things that you can do to help your dog lead a healthy and happy life.
- Ensure your dog is a healthy weight. Keeping your dog slim is vital as it decreases the load on their joints
- Keep to a regular exercise routine. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, exercise is vital to maintain a dogs mobility. Consistent, regular walks on flat surfaces are ideal
- Provide a well padded and supportive bed for your dog. Keep it away from damp and cold drafts
- Get a ramp for your car and minimise any activity that may put undue pressure on your dogs joints. For example, jumping up and down from the couch
- Laminate or tiles floors are difficult for dogs with mobility issues. Invest in some non-slip mats to make it easier for your dog to get up more easily
Help Your Dog Get A Grip
Make sure to keep your dogs nails clipped short. Long nails change the mechanics of the foot and can make walking more difficult, or sometimes even painful. Although it may seem intimidating at first, you can learn how to clip a dogs toenails with confidence and ease.
If you notice that your dog is having trouble getting a grip on slippery surfaces, consider trying Dr. Buzbys ToeGrips® dog nail grips. ToeGrips help dogs move with confidence by providing extra traction and improving the brains perception of where the limbs and feet are positioned.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Get Checked For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs
Although your pet may seem fine in themselves, eating normally and interesting in going out for walks there are several symptoms of arthritis in dogs to be aware of. Its important to take note of any changes, even if they dont seem to be linked to having sore legs.
- Limping before and after walks. Your dog may limp if only one leg is affected, but if more than one joint is affected, your dog may not have an obvious limp.
- Tiredness and showing an unwillingness to get up or walk around. Your dog may seem a bit stiff in the morning, or they cant get comfortable when lying down.
- Licking or chewing painful areas
- Signs of pain when standing, walking, or sitting up or down
- Behavioural changes. Your dogs behaviour may change and seem a bit grumpy if being cuddled or touched too much.
- Slowing down. Your dog may seem to have got old suddenly and tired quickly.
If you notice your dog is suffering from any of the above symptoms, visit your nearest vet right away who will be able to provide an expert and informed diagnosis:
Signs Of Osteoarthritis In Dogs
If your dog hasnt been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you may start to notice the symptoms developing gradually over time, and sometimes increasing as the severity of this condition worsens. Common signs of osteoarthritis include:
Limping or difficulty standing and laying down.
Stiffness when moving.
Struggles to get into posture when going to the bathroom.
An inability to make it outside before going to the bathroom.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Rheumatoid And Psoriatic Arthritis
Video Answer: Dog Joint Health: Relieving Joint Pain & Inflammation
NSAIDs. In addition to the use of joint supplements, pain control is a mainstay of osteoarthritis treatment. The most commonly used pain control medications for more severe osteoarthritis are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs . NSAIDs can not only reduce pain, but also decrease inflammation in the joints.
What is the best medicine for dogs with joint pain?
- You can even give your pet Join Treats Minis instead of regular snacks. Medications â Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, and glucocorticoids offer relief from joint pain and inflammation.
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs
As mentioned above, the most classic symptoms of arthritis in dogs is limping and stiffness in the joints. A more complete list of potential symptoms includes:
- Lack of exercise
- Behavioral changes
If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, its important that you take your dog to the veterinarian right away, as many illnesses and/or injuries can cause similar symptoms. Your veterinarian will do a thorough exam to rule out other causes and to diagnose the arthritis. A veterinarian will diagnose arthritis based on your dogs age, your dogs medical history, and a physical exam. Your veterinarian may also order X-rays of your dogs joints to see how advanced the degeneration of the joints is.
Cover Floors For Walkability
Arthritic dogs may lose muscle mass and become weak, making it difficult to gain traction on hardwood, laminate, marble or other slick floors. Placing bath mats, rubber runners, foam mats or even yoga mats in the areas where your dog walks can give him the footing he needs to get around safely and comfortably. Lay down carpet or rubber treads on stairs. For all-day, all-surface traction, you might also try placing special socks, booties or shoes on your dog’s feet that have grippy bottoms. Unfortunately, many dogs will not tolerate something on their feet and will have even more trouble walking in them.
Should I Do Anything Else To Help My Dog Be More Comfortable
There are simple things that any dog owner can provide to a dog with OA that can help with comfort and mobility. These include:
- Soft, padded bedding
- Raised food and water dishes
- Non-skid floor surfaces
- A ramp for entering and leaving a vehicle
- Adhering to prescribed feeding and medication recommendations
Read Also: How To Relieve Arthritis In Neck
Tips & Products To Help Your Aging Or Arthritic Dog
These tips and products listed below have helped to improve the comfort level, quality of life, and ability to get around for many older and arthritic dogs. Have a look and try them out you may well be surprised at just how peppy your old dog becomes!
You may notice that I dont mention medications in this article. Its not because they aren’t important and helpful, because they are often very important and helpful. Ive done this because medications arent the only important and helpful components to helping older dogs with their pain and mobility issues.
You can read more about what supplements and medications can be helpful with arthritis and joint pain here. The simple, yet safe and effective, tips and products I mention below arent well-known and all too often overlooked. For the benefit of all aging and arthritic dogs, that needs to change.
How Do Dogs Get Arthritis
Many of us have been told that arthritis is a normal part of canine aging.
While plenty of our senior canine friends will suffer from this joint disease at some point, it is not actually a result of the standard aging process.
Arthritis in dogs develops due to certain lifestyle and environmental factors, or a combination of the many factors listed below.
Help Your Dog Get A Grip And Feel Supported
When getting up and walking is already difficult and/or painful for your dog, asking them to do either on a slick floor surface just compounds the difficulty and pain. Worry not though, you needn’t replace all of your home flooring. Fortunately, there are some inexpensive, simple, and highly effective products you can try and steps you can take to quickly make your home floor surfaces less slippery. As well as some great ways to help them get around better when out and about.
- Lay out area rugs or carpet runners, at least in the areas where your dog walks most. And don’t forget anti-skid mats. You could also do carpet tiles instead of full rugs or runners.An advantage of carpet tiles is that they can easily be removed to be cleaned or replaced when they get soiled or worn out. If you’re not going to do the carpet tiles from wall to wall, you may need some “corner stickies” to help hold them in place.
- Add non-slip stair treads to your hardwood staircases the inset photo shows a popular option our team has used with great success. They’re a bit spendy, but they work! They’re easy to install, with no tape or adhesive needed. They’re easy to vacuum and when you do lift them up, they don’t leave a residue or marks behind.
Here’s Preventive Vet dog, Daisy, when she was 15 years old, using her ramp to go to bed at night.
For more options for supplements and treatments for arthritis, check out our article.
MABEL THE SENIOR PUG’S EXPERIENCE WITH ENCORE MOBILITY SUPPLEMENT
How Can My Dog Develop Arthritis
There are many reasons that a dog can get arthritis, including external factors like the quality of their diet, how much exercise theyre getting, breed, injury, and their age.
- Joint injuries. If a joint gets injured by a torn ligament or an infected wound, for example, then damage can occur inside the joint. This sets off a vicious circle of inflammation which can result in arthritis in an otherwise healthy joint.
- Being overweight. If your dog has been overweight, their joints have to cope with the extra load, which, over time, can cause increased wear and tear on the joints.
- Old age. As arthritis may be caused by wear and tear, older dogs may get arthritis even if they have always been slim, fit and healthy. Whilst this may be seen as a normal part of ageing, it doesnt mean that we shouldnt treat it to prevent it from getting worse over time.
Recommended Reading: Can You Prevent Psoriatic Arthritis
My Dogs Veterinarian Said That My Dog Is Overweight She Prescribed New Food As Well As Some Medications And Nutraceuticals Why Are There So Many Things For Me To Give My Dog
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for treating OA. In fact, once OA is established, we are not so much treating it as managing it because OA is not a disease that can be cured.
OA is a very complex disease process, so managing it is a fairly complex process because we get the best results from combining multiple modalities. Typical multimodal management of arthritis generally includes the following:
Normalizing body condition is critical, so your veterinarian will prescribe a specific nutritional product to accomplish this goal. There is now a nutrient profile that can support the joints while helping to normalize body weight and condition. It is important to stick strictly to the prescribed nutritional program.
Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are generally used as the first line of defense against the pain of OA. Your veterinarian will determine if your dog is a good candidate for this class of medication.
Occasionally, a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drug will be prescribed instead of a NSAID. The two classes of medication CANNOT be used together.
âNever reach into your own medicine cabinet when your dog limps or has been diagnosed with OA.â
Gabapentin is a pain medication that addresses chronic pain differently from NSAIDs or corticosteroids, and complements those medications. It provides a way to address the chronic nature of OA pain, and is especially helpful when the patient is older and not able to take a NSAID.