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Canine Arthritis

December 01, 2023

Arthritis occurs when the soft tissues around a dog’s joints wear down, causing stiffness and discomfort.It is a serious condition that affects more than 80 percent of dogs by the age of eight. Fido’s health, happiness, mobility, and quality of life can be seriously impacted by arthritis joint pain. 


Although veterinary medicine has come a long way in recent years, unfortunately, there is no cure for canine arthritis. But there are ways to keep your dog comfortable, and help him live a long and happy life. A local Covington, GA veterinarian discusses canine arthritis in this article.


Arthritis Pain in Dogs: What You Need to Know


Canine arthritis is similar to human arthritis. This painful condition occurs gradually as the cartilage between joints deteriorates. In dogs, typically the weight-bearing joints, like the hips, shoulders, wrists, and knees are affected. As the tissue thins and loses its flexibility, friction causes discomfort, swelling, and inflammation. In more severe cases, bone spurs may form, worsening the pain. 


How Do Dogs Get Arthritis?


The main culprit here is usually simple wear and tear. All that running and playing takes a toll on Fido’s bones and joints! Diet also plays an important role. Your pet’s risk of osteoarthritis will also increase if he wasn’t given proper nutrition as a puppy. Any problems at that crucial—and adorable— toddler stage can result in issues down the road. This is especially true for larger breeds. That massive growth spurt big dogs undergo puts a lot of strain on their musculoskeletal systems. 


Genetics is another contributing factor, and can increase a dog’s likelihood of developing arthritis. Certain breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, German Shepherds, Pugs, and Golden Retrievers, are more susceptible to this condition. Additionally, the level and type of exercise your canine companion gets can also impact his risk. For example, excessive jumping or standing can strain joints and exacerbate the issue. Past injuries like broken bones or damaged ligaments can also increase the chances of arthritis. 


Certain health issues like obesity, hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and diabetes may make a dog more prone to developing this condition. Occasionally, arthritis can also develop as a complication of an underlying condition like an autoimmune disorder, though this is less common. For further information on how to best protect your pet from arthritis, consult with your veterinarian.


Doggy Arthritis Symptoms


Fido may not be able to communicate if something is bothering him, therefore it is important to observe warning signs. These may include lameness, stiffness, and limping, which may be more apparent when your pup is first getting up. While the limp may initially improve with movement and warmth, it will ultimately worsen over time. 


Additional warning signs include low energy, reduced appetite, disinterest in play, hesitation to jump or climb stairs, and reluctance to get in and out of the car. Your furry companion may also display a lack of enthusiasm for beloved activities, such as exploring new trails or going to the dog park. You may also see changes in Fido’s behavior or demeanor, and may notice irritability or sadness. In some cases, inappropriate soiling can be a warning sign, particularly if your pet has to navigate stairs to go outside.


When Do Dogs Get Arthritis?


There are many types of arthritis in dogs, but it is most common in older dogs, affecting 80 percent of pups over the age of 8.  Overall, about one out of five dogs develop arthritis, and a similar percentage shows signs of osteoarthritis after the age of one. Keep in mind that dogs do not all age at the same rate. A Saint Bernard can be a senior at the age of just seven, while a Chihuahua may not reach retirement until he’s ten.


How Fast Does Arthritis Develop?


It is common for arthritis to begin gradually and gradually worsen. Symptoms can, however, suddenly worsen. Since cartilage does not contain nerves, Fido won’t experience pain from it wearing away until it is no longer able to protect his joints. As a result, you may not notice anything amiss until your pup’s condition has developed into a serious one.


Arthritis Treatments for Dogs


Luckily, there are methods to alleviate your furry companion’s joint discomfort. Proper nutrition is key. Keeping Fido fit and healthy, and maintaining a good body weight, will go a long way. You’ll also need to ensure your pup receives appropriate exercise. We also recommend providing a comfy orthopedic bed for your canine pal to rest on. It doesn’t matter if your pooch already has one: it never hurts to have options! Your Covington, GA veterinarian can also inform you about different treatment options, which would be based on the type of arthritis your dog has. You may also be advised to incorporate joint supplements, such as glucosamine or chondroitin, into Fido’s diet.


How To Exercise A Dog With Arthritis


Joint pain can limit Fido’s ability to run and play, putting a damper on his love of popular doggy activities like playing Fetch and chasing tennis balls. Don’t let your canine buddy become sedentary, as this can lead to muscle loss and worsen the condition. Too much inactivity may also cause your pooch to gain weight. Most dogs benefit from regular walks or even swimming, assuming that they enjoy it and the weather permits. However, it’s best to consult your vet for tailored exercise recommendations, as each dog’s needs are unique. 


How Does Arthritis In Dogs Get Worse?


Several factors can exacerbate arthritis. Weather is a big one. Just like people, dogs get stiff and sore when it’s cold. Fido will also be more inclined to snuggle up in his doggy bed than play fetch in the cold weather. A good bed is a must. If your pooch has thin fur, wear him a jacket when it’s cold.


Is There a Way to Prevent My Dog From Getting Arthritis?


While there is no guarantee that your furry friend will never develop arthritis, taking proper care of Fido, and staying on top of preventative measures, can definitely help. A nutritious diet is essential. This isn’t mere speculation. Reputable studies, such as one conducted by the University of Glasgow and Utrech, have demonstrated that weight loss can significantly improve mobility and reduce lameness in arthritic dogs. Additionally, make sure your furry pal regularly visits his Covington, GA veterinarian for physical exams and wellness check-ups.  


What Is the Treatment for Canine Arthritis?


When it comes to treating dog arthritis, the options may vary depending on the stage and type of arthritis. If you suspect that your furry companion may have arthritis, schedule an examination with your veterinarian. Once a diagnosis has been made, you can discuss potential treatment options. These may include cold laser therapy, physical therapy, nutritional protocols, and supplements. Fido may also benefit from medication, such as NSAIDs, steroids or cortisone, and/or chondroprotectants to prevent cartilage damage. Avoid giving any medication without your vet’s recommendation. This can be very dangerous, as veterinary medicine differs from human medicine and some medications can be toxic for dogs.


Conclusion: Arthritis is one of the most common conditions we see in dogs, and it can be extremely painful. While it can’t be cured, it is treatable. Contact your vet if you notice any warning signs. The earlier a condition is treated, the better.


If you notice  any of the warning signs of arthritis, contact your local Covington, GA veterinary clinic right away. We’re here for you!

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