If you are a dog owner chances are that you are aware of arthritis in dogs but if you are not then here we will guide you about everything you need to know about this problem. When your dog becomes older the cartilage surface on the joint starts thinning & sometimes depending on the condition the cartilage cells can disappear. If somehow the cells die it can release the enzymes which can cause inflammation of the joint capsule & also the release of too much fluid of the joint. However, depending on the condition, the osteophytes (extra bony) may continue to grow up & form. The normal joint area also narrows down & the bone under the cartilage deteriorates, since there is difficult cartilage which is becoming narrow down. Keep in mind that all these things set in further changes in the normal
Initially when you take your to the vet for the first time then he may take a physical examination, in which a vet normally depends on the dog’s pain response to joint palpation also the in detecting of crepitus, however they may also observe the gait & the presence of the muscle atrophy to evaluate the condition of the osteoarthritis. However, remember that not all dogs make any type of noise even if the ones who suffer from the Serious Degenerative joint disease: (Also known as osteoarthritis).
However sometimes the Degenerative joint disease (DJD) not only the only reason which decreases the regular activities of a dog by making him weak, but also other things may also cause a change to the joint area. This could mean that depending on the condition, cardiac condition, anemia, metabolic illnesses, endocrine conditions, and bone cancer can also cause damage & the severity. If you have a dog then it’s a good idea to provide high-quality diet regularly & take the dog for exercise on a weekly basis which can surely decrease the chances of suffering from arthritis.
Signs of Arthritis
‘If your dog is suffering from arthritis then there are many symptoms which clearly indicates arthritis you should take a closer look if you notice any of this signs, Also don’t forget to talk to the vet for getting the best treatment
Low energy level
Lameness or Limping
May cry or become alert when touched
Licking on the affected joint area all the time
Unwilling to walk, jump & play
Frequently Mood swings (may act aggressively)
These symptoms clearly indicate that the arthritis is making progress, & every time the pain becomes worse & the condition can turn around to be more severe. Always keep in mind that, a dog suffering from arthritis can’t be cured, however with proper treatment & care you can easily release the discomfort.
Managing arthritis in dogs
If you seriously want to release the discomfort of your dog then the first thing is you should manage arthritis to schedule an appointment with your vet for a complete clinical test. Your vet will take the advantage of a radiograph and a general anesthetic for understanding what is really happening in the join area of your dog. This initial test will give an accurate scenario of the condition of arthritis.
If you truly want your dog to live a happy life then you should be serious about four criteria.
When it comes to dealing with a dog who is suffering from arthritis, weight management is the most important thing that can help you to have a healthy life. If your dog is overweight then it can place more weight proportionally on the joint, thus, it can also create localized inflammation & discomfort to the joint areas. So you need to be very careful about this issue.
Regular exercise is very helpful if you want to manage the arthritis of your dog. You can take your dog for swimming, leash walking which is undoubtedly bring a very positive result. You should be careful about the heavy exercise like racing up and chasing tennis balls because it can easily cause pressure in the joint areas. These type of heavy exercise should be avoided at any cost because it can lead to permanent damage in the joint areas.
Taking some care at home will allow the dog to release the pain of arthritis. If you keep your dog in a warm comfortable area to for sleeping & resting then this will allow the dog to have a nice & healthy sleep. Healthy sleep is good enough to keep a healthy life. Get some pillows and a lot of bedding can get the dog to have comfort in the body & also will stop any kind of pain while moving the body.
There are many veterinary treatments which you can take advantage of managing the osteoarthritis in your dog. Depending on the severity, progression of arthritis, age & any other health issue the treatment option varies. Whenever you take your dog to the vet he will most likely to diagnose & evaluate the whole condition before recommending a treatment option.
Different treatment options
Pentosan polysulfate: This is a well-known drug which used to release the discomfort & pain & this comes as a series of injections. You may need to get one injection every week which should be completed consequently every four weeks within a month. However, depending on the condition your vet may recommend you to repeat the course again every 6-12 months. This medication is extremely helpful for stabilizing the joint memembrance & it helps the process of repairing the joint cartilage. It can also help in improving joint lubrication. The best thing about this medication is that it has the least side effect, but it turns, it will give your dog to have the best improvement.
Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: This medication is sensitive so you should apply this only when the vet recommends. The advantage of NSAID is that it reduces the inflammation around the joints, also releases the pain in a great way. Most of the dogs who deal who deal with the arthritis are seen to respond positively with this medication. However, you may need to have a regular check-ups with vet to evaluate the whole condition of the organ functions.
Nutraceuticals/ Prescription diets: Your vet is most likely to recommend some nutraceuticals which conclude helpful ingredient like Chondrotin sulfate, Green Lipped Mussel, Glucosamine & Fish oils. These dietary supplements are known to help the protection of the joints. The best thing is it doesn’t have any side effect & your dog will continue to improve for a long period of time.
Surgery: IF the condition is very severe then your vet may ask you to with the surgical procedure & this may also include the complete hip replacements.
Physical Therapy: This treatment option is helpful if you regularly follow it. There are some specific activities which can easily increase the strength of your dog. The best thing about is that your dog this exercise also help a dog to lose weight & it won’t put any pressure on the joint area.
Aftercare of orthopedic surgery: If your dog is done with orthopedic keep in mind that it will take a lot of time & rest for the dog to be recovered.
Maintenance of movement & passive stretching: There is some specific exercise which can stretch & release the muscle. This specific exercise well known to make the muscle to work a harder such as Leask walking.
You may also release the discomfort of your dog by heat and cold massage on the affected area.
These treatment options are helpful but you should go for it only when the vet recommends.
Causes of arthritis
It doesn’t matter how strong your dog is, arthritis can make the strongest breed weak. There are a lot of possible causes however if you notice any of the signs of arthritis then it’s better to consult with your vet as so as possible. However in most cases when the affects the dog initially, the dog is most likely to show some behavioral problems & when as time goes by it becomes more sever & then you can see some physical symptoms. Every vet has detailed knowledge on how to diagnose the problem the vet may take some physical test in order to determine the underlying cause of arthritis. You should take a note & tell the vet about every detail about it, The vet will look for the signs, Poor motion while moving the body, Grinding of joint (Crepitus), joint pain are diagnosed by taking the advantage of the atrophy A radiograph, However this procedure is taken & conducted only if the dog is suffering from the anesthetic. If this happens then the vet is most likely to inject a contrast dye in the joint area & after that, an Xray might be taken for getting the best visual scenario.
Depending on the condition you vet may recommend you force plate analysis in which a may having a plate sensor is put on a floor which is hooked up to a computer system. That mat is used for analyzing the force on every plate by allowing the dog to walk over the mat. Also, an aspiration of the joint fluid can determine arthritis.
Before we get into that, remember that if the arthritis is detected then you will have to change the entire schedule for the dog. The best solution every vet will recommend is giving a proper diet and proper exercise. The vet is most likely to begin the treatment procedure by prescribing the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (AKA NSAIDs). These drugs are known best for releasing the inflammation & pain. Sometimes vet also recommends cortisone (injectable medication) if the pain is sever. After diagnosing the entire condition of your dog if he notices the dog is a very week to move his affected body part, then he is most likely prescribe a gel-like substance ( Visco Supplements) in order to enhance the flexibility & release the pain both together. Another wonderful treatment option can be put to use is the steroids which are essential. To overcome the breakdown of the cartilage Glycosamineglycans is very helpful, also to treat the scar tissue of your dog physiotherapy may be suggested. Also, the massage therapy & chiropractic therapy are also known to give a positive result for dogs who suffer from arthritis.
There are many studies in which is shown that the massage therapy, physiotherapy & the chiropractic therapy are truly beneficial for dogs who suffer from arthritis. Sometimes the conditions can turn out to be so severe that the dog may not be able to endure any kind of endurance if this happens the vet will recommend to take the advantage of Hydrotherapy also known as water therapy. To use this treatment option you may need to take the dog underwater.
However, there is some other treatment option in which the ultrasound therapy, magnetic therapy, cell therapy & laser therapy can turn out to be very beneficial. Whenever the vet is done with the diagnosis procedure he will suggest the best treatment option which is suitable for your dog. However, keep in mind that sometimes the vet may also advise for the surgical procedure if a ligament is injured. In this situation, an arthroscopy might be required.
Recovery of Arthritis
When it comes to managing the dog, the managing dietary plan will be very important. Also, remember that too much weight gain will put much pressure on the joint area. So you need to provide only those foods which your vet recommends.
Type of Arthritis
DJD (Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Disease): If your dog is having this type of arthritis then chances are the dog will suffer for a long period of time. If the DJD affects the dog, normally it increases the pain whenever the cartilage allows the joint to move & if it becomes inflamed.
Hip dysplasia: This type of arthritis is genetic development disease. This type of arthritis is known to malformed the hip joint. IF the cartilage in joint slowly becomes worse over time, & the misalignment then this could cause serious pain & also inflammation & everything ends up causing chronic inflammation on the hip joint. IF a vet detects this type of arthritis then he will surely advise the medications or surgical procedure. If you want to have a purebred puppy that may be at risk for hip dysplasia then it’s better to get a puppy from a breeder who had parents certified against hip dysplasia and other related form of the joint disease by the Orthopedic Foundation for animals (ofa)
Elbow dysplasia: This type of arthritis happen when the bones do not develop normally as they should. This type of arthritis can cause damage to the cartilage narrow down the bone and misalignment of the joint. Elbow dysplasia can cause chronic inflammation. In most case vet suggest a surgical procedure to treat this problem.
Knee Dysplasia: There are some toy breeds are mostly seen to suffer from knee dysplasia in which the knee joints are malformed. This type of arthritis is also known as @luxating patella@ in which surgery is normally suggested by vet for treatment.
Signs & symptoms
Depression & frustration
Muscle by the joint may become smaller
Too much licking on the joint area
Unwillingness to jump, climb stairs and walk.
Cracking if the joint area moves
Diagnosis & treatment
Before suggesting any treatment option your vet will take a complete physical test.
Your vet may want to determine any exposal to tick-borne disease or Lyme disease, so this way he wants to have an antigen or antibody test.
Sometimes it becomes confused for identifying any exposure to certain disease so PCR test may be required.
IF the condition becomes very serious then the vet may want to evaluate the liver, kidney and pancreatic function & the sugar level. SO, in this case, the vet may want to take the chemistry tet.
Sometimes a complete blood count might be required
If the vet wants to evaluate the ability of the kidney to concentrate urine then the urine test might be suggested.
If there is any chance if thyroid hormone or thyroid gland is being produced then the thyroid test might be suggested.
An Xray radiograph will be always suggested initially whenever you take the dog for the treatment
To evaluate the underlying cause behind this problem your vet may suggest joint fluid analysis.
Once your vet completes the diagnosis procedure the will suggest a treatment option as needed.
If possible treating the underlying cause of this problem
Prescribing the best medication to reduce the pain & inflammation in the joint area.
If in case your dog is obese then diary management.
If the vet wants to lubricate the joint & rebuild the joint cartilage then nutritional supplement must be suggested.
If the conditions are very severe then the surgery may be the last choice you vet will advise.
Before we discuss the fact keep in mind that not all type of arthritis is preventable. If your vet finally ensure that the dog is having arthritis then all you need is to give the dog a proper dietary plan (as vet suggest) & exercise (recommended by a vet)
If something concerns you then it’s better to call your vet as soon as possible.
Matthew Frank was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He was a reputed author of Pet Therapy Dogs and Pet Dog Cat.
Matthew is a regular author of this blog who is studying Veterinary medicine at Purdue University.