Treating Canine Arthritis: Dog Health Questions and Issues

Bothered looking dog

Dogs, like humans, can experience arthritis as they age. Canine arthritis is a condition that affects many breeds, and is a serious ailment that should be addressed by pet owners. This article can help you make educated observations if you are concerned that your dog may have this painful disease.

  1. Canine arthritis: what is it? Dog health questions often include questions about arthritis. Canine arthritis is the inflammation or swelling of the joints in a dog. This swelling causes the dog pain when he moves and, in bad cases, some associated pain results even when the dog remains stationary. Canine arthritis is a condition that worsens as a dogs ages and rapidly becomes one of the more serious dog health issues as it affects your dog’s ability to walk. One in five dogs over the age of seven is affected by arthritis in some form. Although more rare, dog arthritis can be present in younger dogs as well. The most common forms of canine arthritis are rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, and septic arthritis.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the dog’s immune system creates antibodies that kill the body’s proteins, obviously one of the more serious dog problems. The cartilage in the joints becomes inflamed as a result of the autoimmune response. Steroids are typically administered to kill the antibodies and strengthen the tissue around the joints.
  3. Osteoarthritis. This brand of the disease is almost always genetic, beginning with swelling in and around the joint and worsening with age. The effects of the swelling cause the cartilage and bone to weaken in the joint. In some cases the condition worsens so quickly that an owner will not have a problem recognizing her dog’s pain. However, osteoarthritis can be a slow process, sometimes so slow that it is difficult for an owner to recognize.
  4. Septic arthritis occurs when an infection in the dog’s system is transported to the joint. The infection travels through the blood stream and nestles itself in the joint.
  5. Symptoms. How do you know if Fido has an arthritic problem? The following are some of the common symptoms to look out for:
    • Lameness in a limb.
    • Lethargy.
    • Hesitancy to jump.
    • Noticeable decrease in desire to go for walks or to climb stairs.
    • Stiffness in the morning.
    • Signs of limping or wincing when using the leg joints.
    • Uncharacteristic yelping and barking before the onset of or during exercise.
  6. Causes. Each form of arthritis can be associated with different causes. Septic arthritis, as mentioned above, is the direct result of an infection in the bloodstream. Osteoarthritis is usually genetic, and Rheumatoid arthritis is usually the bi-product of an autoimmune system defect. Hip dysplasia also is a cause of this form or arthritis in the hip area. This condition describes the abnormal formation of the dog’s hipbone; in essence, dogs with this displacement were born with loose joints at the hip. This abnormal set-up creates swelling and the problems associated with canine arthritis. Excessive exercise and repeated injuries to the same part of the body can also be causes of canine arthritis.

    Age and size can also lead to arthritis. Dogs, particularly larger ones, often acquire arthritic problems. In the case of arthritis in larger dogs, the culprit is often osteoarthritis in the form of hip dysplasia.

  7. Treatments. The following are ways for how to treat canine arthritis:

    • Medication. There are ways to combat the ailment and relieve discomfort through dog arthritis treatment. As discussed above, pain medication is usually administered to dogs suffering from osteopathic arthritis. It is important to understand the possible side effects of the medications you are giving your dog. Vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and hair loss are some typical side effects of pain medication in dogs, but extended use can even lead to kidney and liver problems.
    • Natural. Supplementing your dog’s diet with glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate helps prevent cartilage deterioration. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates draw liquid to the joint, thereby increasing lubrication at the cartilage. This fosters a smoother motion of the bones and muscles for your pet. It also kills the dangerous enzymes that attack the cartilage. You can get tablets for your dog to eat with his or her meals. Veggies, in particular celery, are great for joint strength too. Cut up or blend some vegetables and add the mixture to the dog dish the next time your dog has a meal. Don’t use mushrooms or onions, however, since sometimes these can be toxic for dogs.
  8. Prevention:

    • Bad fat and good fat. Keep your dog healthy by monitoring his or her eating habits. Larger, overweight dogs are prone to canine arthritis because of the excess baggage they must carry so dog health is critical. Puppies that experience rapid weight gain sometimes develop joint displacement. Remember, a fat dog is not always, or often, a happy and healthy one.

      Omega 3 fatty acids are lacking in many dogs’ diets. Omega 3 helps regulate joint pressure. Fish oil capsules, slipped into a tasty meat treat, are an excellent source of “good fat” for your dog.

    • Keep him warm. Dogs, like humans, can get sore in the damp, cold weather. Keep your dog’s sleeping area nice and cozy with blankets and comfy bedding. The cold tightens up the joints and makes motions more difficult and painful. If your dog is older and has symptoms of arthritis do not keep him outside at night, even in the summer when wind and moisture are present.
    • Surgery. Canine arthritis, in some cases, can be prevented by surgery. Doctors use x-ray equipment to find joint deformities. The surgeries will remedy the malfunction, but cannot guarantee your dog will not develop some degree of arthritis as she ages. Surgery can be performed on an aging dog as well; total hip replacement is an option for dogs with bad hip dysplasia and associated arthritis. This method can be very taxing on a dog, and the recovery can be painful. If you can prevent arthritis or decrease the effects with the aforementioned solutions, do so. Prevention, starting at an early age, is always the best answer.

Work with your vet to understand the exact nature and intensity of your dog’s condition. Together, determine the right treatment path and remain positive. It’s better for you and your dog to have a good attitude to combat this pain. Remember, too, that the little things can improve the quality of life for your pet. Build a ramp to his dog run, raise the food dish a little higher so he doesn’t have to use his neck as much, and make sure his sleeping area is easy to access without having to jump or climb stairs. Massages are great for a arthritic and related conditions, too. Treat your arthritic dog as you would a human relative with small considerate actions such as these.


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