Arthritis In Senior Dogs
Arthritis is more common in senior dogs, but this progressive and painful joint condition can happen at any age.
Depending on the cause of the condition, arthritis can be mild, moderate, or severe.
For senior dogs, if the layer of cartilage that normally cushions the joints has worn down over the years, they will be in a lot of pain.
The impact of the bone surface rubbing against each other will be enough to stop your pup from going on a walk.
Sore joints, like in humans who have arthritis, will make your dog grumpy and pretty frustrated.
Since surgery is not usually an option for senior dogs as the risk of going under anesthetic is generally too high, its your job to help them make simple lifestyle changes to reduce pain and inflammation in sore joints.
Your veterinarian may suggest changing their diet, helping them to lose weight, or investing in an orthopedic dog bed to cushion sore and painful joints.
Dogs At Risk For Arthritis
Any dog can develop arthritis, but it is more common in older dogs and large breeds, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes. It can also occur more often in breeds with hereditary conditions linked to arthritis. For instance, Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers tend to have luxating patella, and Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, and Labrador Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia.
What Do You Give A Dog For Arthritis Pain
If you suspect that your pooch is suffering from arthritis, then your first step of action should be to book an appointment with the veterinarian, who will probably prescribe a special type of anti-inflammatory medicine.
The most important thing to remember is that dogs cannot be treated in the same way as humans can with arthritic pain so dont reach into your medicine cabinet to treat them.
There are a series of over-the-counter remedies to help ease the pain for your four-legged friend.
Equally, there is a whole range of homoeopathic remedies and practical solutions that can also work wonders, upon your vets recommendation.
The best non-medical options for your dog include:
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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.
Risk Factors For Arthritis In Dogs
Unfortunately, our dogs cannot talk to tell you they might have arthritis. In fact, you may not notice the signs they may be showing. There are some contributing factors to arthritis in dogs.
Dog arthritis risk factors include:
Take this dog arthritis quiz to find out if your dog is at risk.
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What To Expect At The Vet: Diagnosing Arthritis In Dogs
First and foremost will be taking a historya valuable part of every medical appointment, but especially critical when the patient cant speak for himself. Your veterinarian will ask you a litany of questions such as:
- How long has the problem been going on?
- What symptoms have you observed in your dog?
- Have you tried any treatments? If so, what was the outcome?
- When are your dogs symptoms at their best? Worst?
- Has your dog experienced any injuriescurrent or past?
Next, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination . This will include a nose-to-tail hands-on evaluation. Typically, this will include taking your dogs weight and vital signs. The veterinarian will check your dogs eyes, ears, mouth, lymph nodes, listen to the heart and lungs, palpate the abdomen, and observe your dog walk.
They will then focus specifically on your dogs limbs and joints. Although any joint in the body can become arthritic, the most common location for arthritis in dogs is in the hips and hind legs.
What Are The First Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is a common ailment that affects many dogs as they grow older. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition, and the situation can get worse over time. Hence, its crucial to prevent arthritis by ensuring a nutritional diet regimen and adequate exercise to keep the joints healthy.
For larger dogs like Labradors and Golden Retrievers, arthritis may be inevitable. Bad genetics can also be a factor to determine whether your pet will develop arthritic bones. Like all diseases, treatment for arthritis is more effective when it is caught early. Here are a few early symptoms of arthritis in dogs that you should look out for.
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Pain Management For Osteoarthritis In Dogs
However, if your pup has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, this requires a different treatment.
Treating osteoarthritis in dogs calls for Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
This is the most popular course of action and pain medication for dogs with this particular progressive joint condition.
It is considered very safe and carries minimum side effects for your pup.
Targeting painful joints and stiffness, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate are potent and effective supplements that help maintain dogs’ cartilage structure.
With the ability to slow down the joints’ damage, giving your dog, these supplements will reduce pain in the long run.
Causes Of Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis starts with damage to the cartilage within the affected joint. The damage occurs because of wear and tear on the joint from aging, congenital abnormalities, obesity, athletic injuries or traumatic injuries.
In a normal joint, the cartilage acts as a shock absorber, providing a cushion between the bones which form the joint. When the cartilage in a joint is damaged, the cells die and release enzymes that cause inflammation within the joint and the production of excessive, low quality joint fluid. Extra bony growths called osteophytes can develop. When the cartilage thins severely, the joint space becomes narrow and the bone beneath the cartilage deteriorates. Without cartilage in place to absorb shock, the bones and other structures within your pet’s joint become damaged.
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Arthritis In Dogs Facts
Breed: Certain dog breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Shepherds Labradors, Rottweilers, etc., are more likely to develop arthritis at a young age. Arthritis at a young age is not so prevalent at Small to medium-sized dogs but it cannot be ruled out.
Age: Most people think of arthritis as a disease of old dogs.. Almost 20% of dogs show signs as early as the age of one year.
Weight: The increase in the prevalence of arthritis is directly correlated to the overweight in dogs. The more they are above the optimal weight, tougher it is on your dog’s mobility.
Health History and Issues: check the breed is predisposed to any genetic issues such as hipdysplasia in dogs. Healthy history is important as if there has been an accident to your dog or ligament injuries that may contribute to arthritis in your dog.
Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs
“Dogs don’t show their pain the way we expect them to,” Login explains. “They don’t always cry out or yelp like a lot of people think they will.” She says the signs tend to be more subtle and behavioral.
According to Login, the behavioral signs of osteoarthritis in dogs to watch for include:
- Increased irritability
These changes in behavior can be easy to dismiss as normal aging or to even miss altogether. And because your veterinarian can’t see how your dog behaves in his natural habitat, your observations from home are a crucial part of getting to a diagnosis. Luckily, we pet parents have some tools available to us that can help.
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Diagnosing Arthritis In Dogs
To diagnose arthritis, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and check the joint areas for pain. Blood tests and X-rays may be ordered to rule out other ailments, such as bone cancer. These diagnostic tests will show how severely the joints have been affected and help guide the treatment plan.
Is There A Complete Treatmentfor Arthritis
Unfortunately, the prognosis for arthritis is poor,and once your dog is affected by this disease, it is very difficult to recover.Because the cartilage that is present in your dogs joint, if damaged, itrarely heals on its own. But the good news is that with the help of medicationuse and management, you can improve your dogs state of life.
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Whats Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that affects your dogs joints, causing inflammation, pain and mobility issues.
When your dog has arthritis, the articular cartilage that covers the ends of his bones gets damaged.
Articular cartilage exists so the joints can bend smoothly, but when its damaged or degenerating, your pups bones could come into direct contact with each other which is super painful for him.
As the body tries to compensate for joint instability and inflammation, malformation of the joint bones can take place, leading to pain and discomfort, Dr. Cruz told The Dodo.
There are a few different ways your dog can get arthritis, resulting in different forms of the disease.
It could be septic , immune-mediated , caused by a neoplastic condition , and then the degeneration that occurs from wear and tear on the joints with age, Dr. Cruz said.
What Is Canine Osteoarthritis
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, canine osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is characterized by the wearing away of joint cartilage , the buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of new bone around the joint. All of this results in pain and decreased joint mobility and function.
While the cause of osteoarthritis in dogs isn’t always known, there are several things that might be to blame. These causes could include issues like injury, infection, the animal’s immune system, obesity, poor nutrition, and abnormally formed joints .
Osteoarthritis in dogs is quite common. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons says it affects approximately a quarter of dogs and can occur in dogs of all ages. While any dog can develop arthritis, large dog breeds are more prone to the disease. Arthritis is also progressive, meaning it will get worse with time if not treated.
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Causes Of Spinal Arthritis In Dogs
Once again, spinal arthritis and osteoarthritis are very similar. The cause dogs develop arthritis within their joints is the same they develop arthritic changes within the spine.
In simple words, spinal arthritis is caused by natural wear and tear. This does not mean that spinal arthritis in dogs is exclusively associated with old age.
This form of osteoarthritis is more common among senior dogs, but pets can experience spinal arthritis in their youth too. However, when a young dog develops spinal arthritis, the cause is traumatic injury.
Finally, osteoarthritis runs in the family lines, which means the condition has a genetic component. If your dogs parents had some form of DJD, chances are your dog will have it too at some point in its life.
For example, a dog with hip dysplasia is at higher risk of spinal arthritis the hip issue affects the overall posture and strains the back. This dog will have osteoarthritis in its hip joint and spinal arthritis in its vertebrae.
They Are Soiling The House
If your dog is having mobility issues as a result of chronic joint pain, it can be difficult for them to reach the toilet. House soiling can occur and is something to look out for in conjunction with other signs.
If you think they might be suffering from arthritis, get them checked out at the vet for a proper diagnosis.
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Cover Slippery Floors In Your House
- Use rugs, carpets or anti-slip mats to make floors around the house less slippy.
- Dogs with arthritis have weak muscles, which means they are prone to slipping and struggle to get up. Slipping can cause further injury.
- If you cant cover the whole house, focus these in the areas that your dog uses the most.
Physical Therapy Options To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
Physical therapy is an umbrella term that includes an array of treatment options, from a simple massage to novel laser therapy. Here is a short review of some physical therapy options for arthritis in dogs treatment.
Massage. Body massage uses the power of touch to induce healing in the body. Massage helps with arthritis by increasing blood flow to the affected joints. Increased blood flow results in an influx of healing compounds and nutrients which can promote joint health.
You can massage your dog yourself but advice from a professional is highly recommended. There are different techniques, and it is helpful to know which one is best as part of your pets arthritis in dogs treatment.
Hydrotherapy. This is a form of physical rehabilitation that is performed underwater. The water provides higher resistance than air which helps build strength and resilience in the limbs.
In some cases, equipment like an underwater treadmill is used to improve a dogs mobility and range of motion. Hydrotherapy can be combined with pharmaceuticals as well as with alternative treatments.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a form of therapy where fine needles are pricked into the skin at specific points to promote healing in the body. The therapy has been practiced on humans for thousands of years but also shows great promise for dog health.
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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.
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
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When To See A Vet For Arthritis In Dogs
In addition to being painful and ubiquitous, arthritis signs are often ignored in its earlier stages early detection and keeping an eye out for any abnormal actions, no matter how seemingly benign, is really important.
The signs can be really subtle. It can be something like what youd call lazy or sleeping a lot. If youre not too sure, or see any abnormal changes, seek your vets help.
First Things First: What Is Arthritis
The basic definition of arthritis is inflammation of the jointsa condition that can affect both humans and dogs alike. Joint inflammation generally has one or more causes. But to understand these potential causes, we must first understand the makeup and inner workings of your dogs joints.
The bones inside a dogs joints are layered with cartilage and lubricated by joint fluid. This helps to dampen the impact of walking, running, and jumping, and allows the bones to freely glide back and forth against each other without causing friction.
So, when theres an issue with the joint fluid, cartilage, or bones, friction cant be prevented as effectively, which means that pain and inflammation can more easily occur. Take a look at how exactly these factors can lead to joint inflammation in your dog:
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Licking Or Nibbling At The Affected Joints
One of the tell-tale signs that your dog is uncomfortable with a part of their body is that theyll constantly lick or nibble at the spot. When you notice that your dog is fixated on his legs, it indicates that something is wrong.
Nibbling can get so intense that the spot becomes bald as they bite off their fur, so make sure to visit the vet as soon as possible.