As a pet owner, you play an important role in catching arthritis early. This condition is painful and progressive and can be found in the joints of your dog. In this article, you’ll learn how to spot the signs early, as well as how your vet will manage the disease.
What is Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Canine arthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is characterized by the wearing away of the joint cartilage, a buildup of fluid within the joint, as well the formation of new bone around the joint. This results in pain as well as decreased mobility and function.
The exact cause of arthritis in dogs is still unknown. There are, however, several factors that could play a part in causing this condition. These factors include injury, infection, the immune system of your dog, and abnormally formed joints.
Osteoarthritis in dogs is quite common. It affects about a quarter of dogs and can occur in dogs of all ages. It is a progressive condition, meaning that if it has been left untreated, it will become worse.
The Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Dogs are unable to express pain the way humans do. Their behavior often shows that they are in pain.
- Behavioral signs to look out for include:
- Limping after exercise
- Unable to walk long distances
- Walking slower than usual
- Difficulty getting up after laying down
- Difficulty jumping
- Difficulty using stairs
- Increased irritability
Changes such as these mentioned above are often dismissed as normal aging. Sometimes they are dismissed altogether. Your observations of your dog’s behavior at home are a crucial part of the diagnosis, as your vet is unable to view your dog in his natural state at home.
How It’s Diagnosed
The best way to help your vet make a diagnosis is by showing them a video of your dog when he’s struggling. Try recording your dog when he’s going up stairs, walking or playing to show your vet exactly where your concerns are. Your vet should be able to diagnose arthritis from the video you have shown him. Your vet might order X-rays in addition to the physical exam and your observations at home. Your vet might order an MRI or CT as well. This will provide him with a definite diagnosis.
How it’s Treated
There is no cure for arthritis in dogs. There are, however, ways that you can successfully manage it. The management techniques are used to improve your dog’s comfort and slow the progression of the disease.
This is done in three steps:
Controlling your Dogs Pain:
Pain control is the foundation on which treatment begins. This is because when your dog is in pain, he is unlikely to want to participate in any exercise. When your dog refuses to exercise, weight control becomes difficult. The most common medications used are anti-inflammatory drugs. In the event that your dog doesn’t tolerate these drugs, your vet may recommend other treatment options. Your options don’t stop with pharmaceuticals.
Other treatments include:
- Laser therapy
- Massage therapy
- Physical therapy
- Aqua therapy
- Stem cell therapy
Your dog may also be a candidate for supplements such as omega-3-fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
Controlling your Dogs Weight for arthritis:
To slow the progression, it is imperative that your dog reaches and maintains a healthy weight. This is because excess weight puts more pressure on your dog’s already painful joints, thus promoting inflammation. Your vet gets ahead with a plan that includes a target weight, what kind of food your dog should eat, how much your dog should eat as well as when your dog should eat it. Some diets available for your dog are designed to both manage your dog’s weight as well as provide support for their joints.
Providing Low Impact Exercise:
In order to keep your dogs’ joints healthy, keep them exercising. You may, however, need to modify the activities you do with your dog to prevent excessive pain and further injury. Your vet will inform you with tips on how to keep your dog moving in a safe and healthy way. In severe cases of arthritis, surgery is often considered. Speak to your vet about this treatment option if you’re considering it.
Arthritis it Away
Arthritis is untreatable. Only the symptoms can be reduced. It is best to speak to your vet if you suspect your pet of having this condition. Be sure to take your vet through all symptoms and behavioral changes.