Arthritis is a common health concern in dogs that affects joints causing pain and mobility issues. Arthritis can affect dogs of all ages. However, it is more common in older dogs. As dogs age, they can develop arthritis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the joints. Recognizing the signs earlier and incorporating management strategies are crucial for ensuring the well-being and comfort of dogs affected by arthritis.
Causes of Arthritis in Dogs
- Age and Wear: As dogs grow older, the wear and tear on their joints can lead to the deterioration of cartilage, a protective tissue that cushions the joints.
- Genetics: Some dog breeds are more predisposed to arthritis due to genetic factors. Large breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, are more prone to joint issues like hip dysplasia, which can contribute to the development of arthritis.
- Joint Trauma: Injuries or trauma to a dog’s joints, whether from accidents, falls, or athletic activities, can increase the risk of arthritis later in life.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts additional strain on a dog’s joints, especially those in the hips and knees. Obesity is a significant risk factor for arthritis, and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in preventing and managing the condition.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
- Limping and Lameness: Dogs with arthritis may exhibit a noticeable limp or stiffness, particularly after periods of rest or inactivity.
- Reduced Activity: A once-active dog may become less enthusiastic about physical activities. Reluctance to run, play, or go for walks can be indicative of joint discomfort.
- Changes in Behavior: Arthritic dogs may display changes in behaviour, such as irritability, restlessness, or signs of pain when touched in specific areas.
- Difficulty Rising: Dogs with arthritis may have difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position, and they may be slower to stand.
- Joint Swelling and Heat: Swelling and warmth around the affected joints are common signs of inflammation associated with arthritis.
Management and Treatment
- Veterinary Consultation: If arthritis is suspected, it is crucial to seek veterinary advice. A thorough examination, including X-rays and joint fluid analysis, can help diagnose the condition and determine its severity.
- Medication: Veterinarians may prescribe medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain relievers to alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is essential in managing arthritis. A balanced diet and regular exercise, adapted to the dog’s individual needs, can help prevent obesity and reduce stress on joints.
- Joint Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine supplements can support joint health and reduce inflammation. These supplements are often recommended by veterinarians for dogs with arthritis.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises can improve joint flexibility and strengthen surrounding muscles, providing relief for arthritic dogs.
- Injections: There are injections available for arthritis in dogs. It can help tremendously with managing joint pain and further preventing or reversing the damage to joints. Injectibles such as Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium, Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, and Bedinvetmab are commonly administered by vets to treat osteoarthritis in dogs. Consult your veterinarian to decide the appropriate treatment for your dog.
Arthritis is a common condition in ageing dogs, but with proper management and care, their quality of life can be significantly improved. Regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and appropriate interventions can help ensure that our beloved canine companions age gracefully and comfortably despite the challenges posed by arthritis.