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Dog Arthritis: Information Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

May 1 2024

Did you know arthritis affects about 25% of our canine companions? Dogs of all ages can develop arthritis, although older puppies are most often afflicted. Actually, almost 80% of dogs older than eight years old have arthritis. A Hiawassee, GA veterinarian discusses this painful condition below.

What Is Canine Arthritis?

Of the different kinds of arthritis that can occur in dogs, osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common variety. It is a result of the soft tissues around Fido’s joints deteriorating, which eventually leads to bone-on-bone contact.

Arthritis is very painful for our furry pals, and makes it hard for them to run, leap, and play. Fido’s general well-being and health may also suffer as a result. This often forms a downward spiral:  as your pet becomes less active, that lack of exercise may result in a loss of muscle mass and an elevated risk of obesity. And then, if Fido gains weight, the additional pounds will strain his bones and joints.

What Are The Signs Of Canine Arthritis?

It is easy to miss the early signs of arthritis, as they usually appear slowly. Most of the time, people notice limping before anything else. In the beginning, Fido may only limp briefly, usually as he is standing up. When your pet first starts to move about, the limp might get better. However, the limp will become more persistent as Fido’s condition worsens.

Here are some other symptoms:

  • Stiff gait
  • Reduced interest in play
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Licking or nibbling sore spots, particularly paws and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Grouchiness
  • Withdrawal
  • Trouble getting up and down
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Depression
  • Not wanting to let you pet sore spots

These symptoms might get worse very quickly. This is because there are no nerve endings in cartilage. Fido may not feel much pain from his arthritis until there has been a noticeable decline in the tissue.

Contact your Hiawassee, GA veterinarian right away if you notice any of these signs. While arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed. However, the sooner the issue is addressed, the better!

Caring For An Arthritic Dog

Your vet will offer specific care advice and treatment options once your pooch has been diagnosed. The details will vary a bit, depending on your pet’s age, health, and the stage of the arthritis. That said, there are some basic guidelines we can offer.

  • Exercise: A good doggy workout routine is crucial. Frequent, brief walks are a good option for many pups. You don’t want to overdo it, though.
  • Nail Trims: Peticures are also important. Your dog may find it challenging to get good traction with long nails. Plus, overgrown claws will change the angle of his toes while he runs or walks.
  • Stairs/Ramps: Consider purchasing your pet ramps or stairs to help your furry pal enter and exit the vehicle and get on and off beds and couches.
  • Bedding: Fido will need a good doggy bed., orthopedic beds are a great option, Because they offer excellent support.
  • Doggy Diet: Weight Management is also important. Fido’s love of bacon may need to be curtailed. Obesity will only make matters worse.
  • Carpet: If you have floors, you might want to consider using area rugs or runners. This will help Fido get good traction. It will also add some cushion in case he falls. (Plus, this will make your home look nice!
  • Toe Grips: These nail grips can help your furry pal get better traction. These are sort of like press-on nails for dogs. They are made to help keep Fido from slipping.
  • Climate Control: Weather that is cold and rainy might exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Make sure Fido stays dry and warm in the rainy season!

It may be worthwhile to take your dog to a professional groomer. Arthritic dogs may find it difficult to get in and out of the bathtub. Even being held or picked up can be painful for them. Many groomers have stations that Fido can easily walk in and out of.

Canine Arthritis: What Causes It?

The main cause of arthritis is the body’s natural aging process. Fido’s joints will take quite a bit of abuse from all that running after balls, jumping to greet you, and playing with his favorite toys. That cushioning tissue between his bones gradually gets weaker and less elastic with time.

There are other factors that come into play here, though. Fido’s chances of developing doggy arthritis may rise after an injury or infection. Exercise regimens that are too rigorous, too light, or just not suitable might exacerbate these issues. Dogs who did not have proper diet or exercise regimes as puppies may also be at a higher risk. That rapid growth spurt our canine pals go through strains their bodies, so any issues at that stage can lead to major problems down the line. Arthritis can occasionally be brought on by other conditions, such as diabetes.

What Are The Treatment Options For Canine Arthritis?

There are a lot of treatment choices available. However, these are always approached on a case-by-case basis. The choices will ultimately depend on how serious and advanced Fido’s condition is. Your veterinarian can talk to you about the alternatives after doing a complete examination of your pet.

Medicine Inflammation and discomfort can both be effectively reduced by medications, such as NSAIDs.  Surgery may be an option for some pups. Alternative/additional therapies, such as acupuncture and massage can also help.

Swimming may be beneficial. If your dog enjoys swimming and is physically capable of it, then it can be a good option. Heat/cold therapy, such as heating pads, can promote circulation, ease inflammation, and reduce pain.

New therapies are also constantly being developed and released. See your Hiawassee, GA veterinarian for further details.

What Supplements Are Good For Arthritic Dogs?

Your vet may recommend giving Fido specific types of supplements. Some of those most commonly recommended for arthritic dogs include the following:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Avocado and soybean extracts called unsaponifiables (ASU)
  • Boswellia serrata extract
  • Chondroitin
  • Eggshell membrane
  • Glucosamine
  • Green tea extract
  • Green-lipped mussel (perna)
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Manganese
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
  • Turmeric
  • Undenatured type-II collagen

Of course, you should always talk to your vet before giving your canine buddy anything new. Not all products are right for every pup!

Do Particular Breeds Have An Increased Risk Of Arthritis?

Dogs of any breed can get arthritis, but some are more prone to the illness than others. It is rather typical for many larger dogs. Some of these include the Newfoundland, German Shepherd, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Dog, English Mastiff, Saint Bernard,  English Sheepdog, Samoyed Rottweilers, and Boxer. If you aren’t sure what breed your canine pal is, you may want to get Fido a doggy DNA test.

Make An Appointment With Our Hiawassee, GA Veterinary Clinic 

Is your pup due for a visit? Do you know or suspect Fido may have arthritis? If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. As your local Hiawassee, GA, veterinary clinic,  we are happy to help!

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