Arthritis is a common health issue for many dogs that causes a lot of pain, stiffness, and discomfort. It is a joint inflammation, which means that cartilage within a joint becomes damaged in dogs with arthritis, making it less smooth and causing the bones in the joint to rub together. Arthritis is primarily a condition of senior dogs, but it can occur at any age due to issues with joint and bone development.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage the disease and alleviate your pet’s pain, such as proper weight management, limiting strenuous activity, or giving your four-legged companion Carprofen for dogs. In addition to learning about the causes and most common symptoms of arthritis, this article will provide you with information on the most effective treatment methods. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about arthritis in dogs.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
The symptoms of arthritis in dogs can be very mild or severe. They may include:
- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump
- Abnormal gait with stiffness
- Reduced ability to play, exercise, or walk for extended periods of time
- Abnormal or increased sensitivity, especially in cold weather or after exercise
- Abdominal soreness, which is known as “bunny-hopping” when the dog is resting in a crouched position
- Discomfort when turning, jumping, or changing direction
- Chronic pain when moving or eating
However, some dogs do not have any noticeable symptoms of arthritis. These dogs are typically senior dogs with existing joint deterioration. Most dogs with arthritis are at least three years old.
Causes of Arthritis in Dogs
There are many causes of arthritis in dogs. Some are related to genetics, while others are related to the environment. Pet owners should be aware of these factors and preventative measures they can take to reduce the risk of arthritis in dogs.
There are certain breeds that are more prone to developing arthritis than others. Breeds with a genetic predisposition to arthritis include Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Great Pyrenees, Irish Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. You can prevent or manage arthritis early on by limiting the amount of strenuous activity your dog participates in. For example, if you have a Labrador Retriever that loves to swim, consider getting him a life jacket so he can still participate in his favorite pastime while limiting the impact on his joints.
Senior dogs are most commonly affected by arthritis. As dog’s age, their bones become less dense and their joints become more brittle. Other health issues, such as osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, or joint incongruities can also cause arthritis in dogs. The onset of arthritis is typically gradual in dogs over the age of five years.
Dogs with dietary deficiencies are more prone to developing arthritis. For example, dogs with calcium deficiency are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than dogs with normal calcium levels. Symptoms include hip dysplasia, joint pain, and reluctance to exercise. It’s important to monitor your dog’s diet and ensure that its food is high-quality and meets his nutritional needs. If you aren’t sure what your dog should eat, speak to a professional veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.
Dogs who are exposed to extreme heat and cold have an increased risk of developing arthritis. For example, dogs with severe hip dysplasia may be less likely to develop arthritis if they live in a warmer climate. In this case, the hormone that causes inflammation is absorbed into the body more quickly in cold weather, causing joint pain.
This is one of the most common causes of arthritis in dogs. If your dog suffers from a severe injury to a joint or limb, it may develop arthritis in that area. The injury may also cause a dog to develop a habit of favoring a leg or limping after the injury heals.
Preventing and Managing Arthritis in Dogs
There are several things you can do to prevent and manage arthritis in dogs.
Provide Quality Nutrition
Senior dogs need good nutrition to maintain good bone and joint health. A holistic diet with plenty of omega fatty acids and vitamin E can be extremely beneficial in preventing and slowing the progression of arthritis in dogs.
Obesity is another risk factor for arthritis in dogs. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of managing arthritis in dogs and keeping your dog healthy overall. Some overweight dogs may need to lose a few pounds, while some underweight dogs may need to gain weight for optimal health. Speak to a veterinarian about the best weight management plan for your dog.
Your veterinarian can prescribe pain medication or provide recommendations on alternative methods of pain relief for your dog. These methods include acupuncture, supplements, and physical therapy.
In some cases, surgery can help relieve pain due to arthritis in dogs. However, surgery is only recommended as a last resort because it has potential side effects and complications.
Arthritis cannot be prevented entirely, but there are ways to prevent the onset of arthritis in dogs. For example, hip dysplasia can be prevented by controlling the amount of exercise your dog has. Dogs that are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia should be limited to light activity, such as walking. Dogs that are older than five years should also take it easy on their joints by limiting strenuous activity, such as running or jumping.
Home Care for Arthritis in Dogs
The following home care techniques can help manage arthritis in dogs.
Massage therapy can reduce inflammation and ease pain due to arthritis in dogs. The massage can stimulate blood flow to the affected area, which helps improve circulation and reduce pain. Ask your veterinarian for specific massage techniques that will work best for your dog. You should also try other types of soothing massage techniques, such as acupressure or petting therapy.
Acupuncture involves inserting needles into the skin at certain points on the body to stimulate blood flow and promote healing. Studies show that acupuncture reduces pain due to arthritis in dogs, although the mechanism is unclear. Acupuncture can also be used alongside other treatments like physiotherapy to reduce pain and improve mobility without the use of traditional drugs.
If your dog is uncomfortable, a soft cushion or bed can be a great way to keep it comfortable and relieved from pain. Pillows and blankets made from memory foam are ideal because they have the right amount of firmness and give support to aching joints.
Herbal remedies, acupuncture, and supplements can all be effective ways to relieve pain and inflammation due to arthritis in dogs. Speak to your veterinarian about the best options for your particular situation.
In many cases, arthritis can be managed with these treatments and techniques. However, if your dog’s symptoms worsen or it experiences new symptoms, speak with your veterinarian for additional treatment options and further instructions.
Arthritis in dogs can be managed with the right care and medications. However, your dog should see a veterinarian right away if it starts to experience pain or discomfort. If you notice that your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Together, you can determine whether your dog has arthritis and how to best manage the disease.
Maureen McCarthy founded Love and Kisses Pet Sitting in 2006. She is a member of Pet Sitters International and has Feline Certification through the University of Edinburgh. She operates one of the most successful pet sitter businesses in North Carolina. Read more about Maureen here.