What is Canine Arthritis?
It is a health problem in dogs characterized by joint pain and inflammation. The joints most commonly affected include the ankle, knees, shoulders and the elbows. The condition not only causes mobility issues in dogs, but also reduces their energy levels and playfulness.
What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?
Arthritis in dogs is caused when the smooth cartilage that covers and protects the joints is broken or damaged. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber by providing a cushion between the bones forming the joint. When the cartilage is broken or damaged, it can no longer serve its intended purpose, leading to uncomfortable joint pain and inflammation.
The cartilage can be damaged because of the following reasons:
- Joint infection
- Muscle, tendon or ligament injury
- An inherited condition like hip dysplasia
- Natural erosion of cartilage caused by aging
- Congenital abnormalities
- Immune system problems
- Be less alert
What are the Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs?
Dogs suffering from arthritis may:
- Walk stiffly
- Be hesitant to climb the stairs
- Lick or chew the painful joint or joints
- Appear to have swollen joints
- Show some signs of discomfort when rising
- Display lameness in certain limbs
- Be hesitant to jump onto furniture
- Loose interest in playing about
- Feel pain when touched in certain areas
- Feel tired most of the time
How is Arthritis in Dogs Treated?
Even though canine arthritis is incurable, there are a number of treatment options that can be used to reduce the pain and keep affected dogs healthy and happy for a long period of time. Some of the most reliable treatment options that you can use include:
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To provide more comprehensive pain relief for dog arthritis, you can combine NSAIDs with non-NSAID painkillers such as gabapentin, buprenorphine, tramadol and Fentanyl®. Doing so will enable you to use lower doses of the two classes of drugs since they work together to relieve pain. It will also reduce the risk of possible adverse side effects from either drug.
- Total hip replacement
- Arthrodesis (fusing damaged joints)
- Removal of the femoral head (part of the thigh bone that fits into or rests inside the hip socket)
In some cases, veterinaries may recommend reconstructive surgeries to correct congenital abnormalities and stabilize the affected joint or joints.
Note that all arthritis medications have strong ingredients that carry adverse side effects. That’s why it is very advisable to use two or more treatment options for dog arthritis simultaneously to control pain with less risk of side effects.
How Can I Prevent Canine Arthritis?
Preventing arthritis in dogs is much better than running up and down looking for the best treatment options when it is too late. The following are some of the best preventive measures you can take to keep your pet safe:
Manage Your Dog’s Weight
Keeping your dog’s weight in check will help you make sure that he or she doesn’t carry extra pounds that can place undue pressure or strain on the joints.
To help your dog develop strong muscles and joints, it is very advisable to take him/her for a walk every morning or evening.
Avoid Extreme Activities
While you are out with your dog, do not let him/her play or exercise too much because of health reasons. Make sure he/she has breaks between plays or exercises to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Give him/her Supplements
As your dog continues to get old, his/her cartilage deteriorates naturally. Maintaining a healthy cartilage is crucial to preventing arthritis. Some of the best supplements you can use to keep your canine’s cartilage in shape include glucosamine for dogs, chondroitin and MSM. Giving your dog adequate levels of these supplements will definitely prevent or slow down the onset of canine arthritis.
Train Your Dog to Use a Ramp Instead of Jumping on Cars and Furniture
Each time your pet jumps on a hard surface, the joints are impacted, which can lead to injuries. For example, jumping on the boot of a car, off a bed, on a chair or on a hard floor can lead to significant back or joint problems after months or years of the activity. Jumping on a ramp will be gentler on your dog’s skeletal. So, start teaching your dog how to use a ramp at an early stage so that he/she can get used to it as he/she gets older. If you are busy to train your dog, consider hiring the services of a professional dog trainer that you can find within your locality.