Can You Treat Arthritis In Dogs
Unfortunately, there is no set cure for arthritis in dogs.
The damage to a dogs joint is often irreversible, so its a matter of managing the condition rather than treating it.
Once your pup is diagnosed with this degenerative joint condition, the plan of action will involve preventing any further joint damage going forward.
Managing arthritis is not a one size fits all approach, so your veterinarian will often rely on a combination of the following treatment options below.
Natural Remedies For Arthritis In Dogs
Can adding herbs to your stiff old dogs dinner help him run, jump, and play like a puppy? Plants were the original pharmacy for humans and animals, and over thousands of years, cultures around the world developed remedies that remain in use today.
Search the medical literature or the websites of educational organizations like the American Botanical Council and youll find many studies examining the effect of medicinal plants on humans with arthritis. But while canine arthritis is a popular veterinary research topic, only a few studies have examined plant-based therapies for dogs.
A 2004 Swiss examination of 29 dogs with degenerative osteoarthritis showed that a resin extract of Indian frankincense significantly reduced symptoms and increased mobility in more than 70% of the canine patients.
In 2014, a randomized placebo-controlled trial at the University of Montreals Faculty of Veterinary Medicine tested 32 dogs diagnosed with arthritis by x-ray and orthopedic exams. The researchers developed combinations of devils claw root , Indian frankincense, and other herbs, and after eight weeks the strength of dogs receiving treatment improved to the equivalent of a kilo of extra strength per paw. None of the treated dogs saw their health decline, unlike 25.8% of the dogs who were given a placebo. In addition, the placebo dogs became less physically active while the treated dogs became significantly more active.
The Cornerstones Of Osteoarthritis Management
Osteoarthritis affects the patient as a whole, so the whole patient needs treatment. Treatment needs to focus not only on the cartilage but also on the surrounding structures that are equally affected . Effective management hinges on a careful balance of activity, nutrition, muscle development, weight management, medications, and joint supplements. In many cases, various treatment modifications are necessary. Management must be comprehensive and sustained, and it is important to remember that regular follow up is necessary, not only to gauge the success of therapy, but to re-evaluate and add in other therapies as indicated by the specific needs of your pet.
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Provide A Dog Bed In Every Room Where Family Spends Time
Some dogs have one dog bed and it may not necessarily be available to the dog until bed time. This is fine with young dogs, but older, arthritic dogs need something to cushion their protruding joints wherever they spend time with humans.
If your arthritic dog is laying on a cold, wood floor of a game room while the kids play for hours at a time, your dog will thank you for placing a dog bed in the game room.
Now lets move on to products that can be added as budget permits.
The Role Of The Canine Joint
The canine joints play a critical role in normal movement.
Joints are the junction that connects two different bones in a dogs limb, allowing their limbs to move freely with each step.
Not only do joints help their limbs move with ease, but they also play a major role in the preservation of bones.
In a healthy dog joint, the joint is surrounded by fibrous tissue. The joints are also covered in cartilage that wraps around the end of the bone, offering added protection to this critical junction.
These structures not only support the joints with each movement, but they allow for proper shock absorption.
When a dog develops canine arthritis, they begin to feel the impact of a failing system.
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Strategies To Ease Your Dogs Arthritis Pain
When it comes to relief, reaching for a single âbig gunâ pharmaceutical is rarely the most effective approach. Rather, best results are achieved by working with your vet to develop a plan tailored to help with your dogâs specific issues.
An integrative, multimodal therapy regime can maximize your dogâs comfort and well-being and minimize the potential side effects of certain therapies. Here are a few strategies that have been found to be beneficial:
Treating Or Managing An Arthritic Dog
Your veterinarian can advise about safe exercise for puppies and juvenile dogs. And remember that all dogs need at least an annual health check. If your dog is predisposed to developing arthritis, your veterinarian will be aware to monitor their joint health.
The treatment of arthritis in dogs is multimodal, which means veterinarians manage the pain and discomfort by using multiple therapies for the most effective results. If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, his or her treatment plan will most likely be based on the following established treatments:
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Best Supplements For Arthritis In Dogs
One of the most convenient and safe ways to manage your arthritic dog at home is to provide them with joint supplements. They help to reduce pain and improve the working of your dogs cartilage.
These supplements are also good to prevent your dog from rapidly progressing toward the adverse effects of joint inflammation.
We, therefore, recommend that you start your dog early enough on supplements to ensure their joint issues are taken care of from start.
Diet And Weight Loss To Help Manage Arthritis Pain In Dogs
Next, lets look at the importance of diet and weight loss. Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight is imperative for managing pain. Excessive weight on joints can exacerbate arthritis.
But how do you know if your dog needs to lose weight? Purina offers the Body Condition Score chart, which you can find in my article on how to canine body condition score your dog along with my video demonstration.
In general, when lightly running your fingers along your dogs ribs, you should be able to feel them. The same is true for the spineyou should be able to palpate the spines of the vertebral bodies with gentle downward pressure . Lastly, when looking at your dog from above and behind, he or she should have a tapered waist.
This varies by breed, of course. A Labrador Retriever at a healthy weight will not have as clearly defined a waist as a Greyhound. So please keep in mind that these are generalities. Your veterinarian can help guide you in proper body condition for your dog.
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When Is It Time To Euthanize A Dog With Arthritis
Stage 4: Pain can be severe at this stage. Lack of mobility is a life threatening disease dogs who cant get up or walk anymore usually are euthanized. This is the stage we are trying to prevent by intervening early. At this stage, the pet may resist, cry or even scream when the joint range of motion is tested.
Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis develops differently in each dog, but there are a handful of common symptoms of arthritis in dogs that display when they are suffering from arthritis that may alert their owners that they need medical care. Below are some of the most common signs that a dog is suffering from arthritis:
- Licking, chewing, or biting the affected area
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Bring On The Exercise In Moderation
If you have watched your arthritic dog get up after lying down for awhile, or if you are afflicted with arthritis yourself, you know that creatures with arthritis may have a stiff gait. The longer they stay in one position, the harder it is for them to get up and go.
Exercise is important for all dogs regardless of their weight. It is also great for dog parents. Getting some fresh air and a chance to stretch your legs together can be a great way to increase your bond with your dog. Additionally, it can be a fun way to help your dog with arthritis at home.
Short and slow walks around the neighborhood can keep your dog limber and help an overweight dog burn more calories. In addition, these walks help maintain muscle mass to stabilize the joints. Swimming also makes a great low-impact exercise for arthritic dogs and can be an enjoyable treat in the summer heat.
Dogs dont always know their limits, so beware of letting your dog sprint or do other high-impact exercises. Also avoid the weekend warrior model of exercise. It may be seem fun in the short term, but your dog could get injured or suffer increased joint pain.
Inflammation: The Real Cause Of Dog Arthritis
We once thought arthritis was the result of wear and tear but more recent research shows this isnt the case. Researchers say arthritis may be the result of chronic, low-grade inflammation.
In a nutshell, the immune system releases proteins that damage joints. These proteins bind to cartilage-producing cells in the joints and lead to the secretion of more damaging proteins. This creates a cascade of chronic, low-grade inflammation in the joint. And if your dog already has some arthritic changes it can create more pain.
Low-grade chronic inflammation isnt just linked to arthritis. Its now believed to be the cause of virtually every health condition and disease. Dr Brent Bauer, director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, says
Inflammation appears to play a role in many chronic diseases
Now you might be thinking, Great, Ill give my dog anti-inflammatory drugs and the arthritis will go away. But those drugs wont address the cause of your dogs inflammation. And new research shows NSAIDs can cause even more damage to your dogs joints and soft tissue.
Not all inflammation in the body is a bad thing. Acute inflammation is part of the bodys natural healing process. It sends white blood cells to the affected area when your dog gets exposed to viruses or bacteria or if he hurts himself.
But chronic inflammation is not good. Its the kind of inflammation that stays for weeks, months and even years.
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Maintain An Active Lifestyle
It is important to keep those arthritic joints moving to prevent stiffness and decrease pain. Your arthritic dog may have less enthusiasm about walks, as well as decreased stamina. However, exercise is still essential. Instead of one long daily walk, try taking multiple short, slow walks a day. As your dog tolerates it, try short and steady walks up and down steep hills. This will help rebuild muscle loss in the limbs, increasing overall strength and stability.
Create A Prescription Medication Plan With Your Vet And Track Your Dogs Progress
Based on your dogs exam findings and medical history, your veterinarian may prescribe certain medications to help decrease joint pain. These include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Muscle relaxants
- Medications to reduce nerve pain
Your dog may take some of these medications on a once-a-day or twice-a-day basis long term. Other medications might be used on an as needed basis. Work with your veterinarian to create the medication plan that is right for your dog and keep your vet updated on how your dog is doing. I advise my clients to keep a simple daily journal for their senior dogs because it helps us chart changes, improvements, potential medication side effects, and make more objective assessments of progress.
By the way, I understand that getting your dog to take prescription medications isnt always a walk in the park. Ive been there with my own four-legged family members. Thats why I came up with my five favorite tips if your dog wont take pills.
A word of caution about pain medications for dogs with arthritis
Never give any human pain medications to your dog unless directed to do so by your veterinarian. Dog-specific NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for arthritic dogs because they effectively reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain. However, you must never give your dog human NSAIDs due to the risk of life-threatening side effects. Learn more in my article: Can I Give My Dog Advil?
Arthritis In Dogs: How To Manage Pain
At the end of the day, although an arthritis diagnosis might seem frightening, there are many different methods and strategies available to you to help your dog and manage his pain. Your veterinarian can help you find the right plan based on your dog specifically and answer any questions you may have throughout the process.
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Does Arthritis In Dogs Go Away
No, arthritis in dogs doesnt go away. Unfortunately, arthritis in dogs treatment as the condition cant be cured only managed. This is because damage to joint cartilage tissue is rarely reversible.
On a positive note, you can help your arthritic dog live a long, happy life with the right treatments. Good arthritis in dogs treatment aims to reduce arthritis pain and prevent further damage to your dogs joints.
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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.
How To Prevent Arthritis In Dogs
While youre unable to prevent the condition developing in dogs who have age arthritis , it can be prevented in young dogs by restricting them from jumping up on the sofa and running up the stairs while theyre still growing and their joints are developing. Young dogs can be taken on shorter walks and on routes with a limited incline to reduce pressure on their hip and knee joints.
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Pet Stairs For Beds Or Cars
I should have prepared for this day sooner because it happened out of the blue. One day, my dog wouldnt hop into the backseat and he had to get lifted into the car.
After several weeks of research, I bought 2 styles and tested them out. One style was made of plastic with carpeted steps and the other style was folding steps that attach to the back of my SUV. I bought both styles with the full intention of returning the one my dog didnt like. Turns out, both styles are perfect for different reasons and I kept both.
You can see my full review here: Car Steps for Dogs and you can watch my dog using both styles in this video:
Why I Use the Foldable Pet Steps
When transporting my dog in the back of my jeep, I use these: fold-able stairs style and they were friendly on my budget. If youre looking for something even more substantial, check out the price and reviews on this product: High End Dog Stairs that hooks to the hatch latch.
I was very worried that my 90 pound dog wouldnt acclimate, but he did a great job after about 10 or so tries. Now he uses them without hesitation, but I still stay by his side and guide him.
I keep the foldable stairs right in my SUV and they also come in handy at the dog wash. My dog will not use the steep, skinny ramp that leads him into the high tub for his bath, but I can bring the fold-able steps inside and hell use them. Hallelujah!
When I Use the Plastic Pet Steps
Both sets of stairs have helped him tremendously.
Green Lipped Mussel For Dogs
Studies have proven whole Green Lipped Mussel contains complex proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, nucleic acids and essential fatty acids such as Omega-3.
Green lipped mussel is from the pristine waters of New Zealand. GLM is not something new and the immense health benefits associated with them have already been proven in humans. Adults already take advantage of this supplement to help relieve the signs of aging, especially when arthritis and swollen joints are an issue. Pets should have that opportunity as well.
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