Arthritis caused by old age (osteoarthritis) is a common ailment in both humans and dogs, and can be regarded as the same disease in both. It is the result of old age and wear and tear in the joints, although other factors like injury and genetic makeup, among other things, can have effects on its progression.
Arthritis can set in on one or more joints located anywhere within your dog’s body, however, it most commonly affects dogs in the hips, knees, shoulders and elbows. Most joints rely on a layer of cartilage which acts as a cushion, which also provides a smooth surface, so each adjoining bone can move smoothly and freely over each other. The movement is assisted by the synovial fluid in the joints providing lubrication.
When arthritis occurs, this cartilage deteriorates and the synovial fluid then loses its lubricating abilities, so the movement of the joints and bones becomes less smooth. This leads to discomfort and mobility issues.
Signs of Arthritis
- Reluctance to walk, climb stairs, jump or play
- Any limping or lameness
- Lagging behind during walks
- Pain or stiffness when getting up or lying down
- Yelping or crying when touched
- A change in aggression (can be aggressive when normally good-natured)
- Licking of joints affected
These signs will become more and more obvious as arthritis increases and the pain worsens. Arthritis in dogs is not something that can be cured, but rather the pain and discomfort can instead be controlled and managed.
Managing Arthritis in Dogs
The first thing you need to do when trying to manage your dog’s arthritis is schedule an appointment with your vet for a thorough examination. In order to diagnose your dog’s condition properly, radiographs will usually be done to determine what is happening in your dog’s joints.
Here are some important points to helping your dog enjoy a happy life again:
The most important way to help mitigate the effects of arthritis is by managing your dog’s weight, as putting more weight on their joints can cause more inflammation and irritation on the joints. This can cause a more rapid advancement of arthritis.
Exercise is another key factor of managing arthritis. Regular and controlled exercise like leash walking and swimming are very beneficial for keeping joints mobile and exercising your dog’s muscles. Uncontrolled exercise, such as playing fetch, can put unnecessary pressure on joints.
You can make some efforts at home to help your dog be more comfortable. Such as making sure your pet has a warm, comfy place to sleep, plenty of bedding and providing a ramp as an alternative to stairs, or provide assistance when getting in and out of the car.
There are a lot of veterinary treatments out there to help with osteoarthritis in pets. The type of treatment will depend on what is best for your individual dog. Your vet might prescribe medication, put your dog on a special diet, or they might suggest surgery and physical therapy.
If you have any questions about osteoarthritis in your pet, contact Aquitaine Vet today.