Arthritis in dogs, or canine arthritis, is a joint disease that frequently affects our canine friends, especially in adulthood. It is based on the presence of inflammation and the wearing away of the joints or joint cartilage.
Just like their human counterparts, dogs also experience the effects of old age; causing their bodies to slowly wear over time. That is why in this article we will discuss every aspect of Canine Arthritis and the important information that you must know to care for your furry friend.
What is canine osteoarthritis? Degenerative arthritis, also known as canine osteoarthritis or arthritis, is a prevalent joint disease in elderly dogs. However, dogs that are still in their juvenile state can still face the possibility of developing canine arthritis, regardless of how it is caused. Very often, people who have a pet dog find that when they get older, they begin to present symptoms of canine arthritis. It is estimated that one in every five dogs develop this joint disease sometime in their lives.
It usually appears in dogs that are already quite advanced in age, as it is a degenerative condition that gradually destroys all the cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is the tissue responsible for covering the bones that make up said joints, acting as a kind of shock absorber.
With time, the disease progresses, causing the cartilage to deteriorate little by little until it completely disappears. At this point, the dog will begin to have chronic pain and painful joints because its bones are rubbing against each other. Moreover, due to this problem, osteophytes begin to develop, which are bony protrusions often called spurs. When these spurs appear it causes the dog to have intense arthritic pain. In addition, as these spurs continue to grow, they can exert more pressure on nearby nerves causing a much more intense joint pain.
What Are Symptoms of Canine Osteoarthitis?
If you think that your pet has canine arthritis, you should know that there are certain behaviors and various symptoms that will be evident with the onset of this condition. Among the main symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs, and the most common of all is lameness. In addition, you will observe that the dog does not walk correctly or that it does so with great difficulty due to joint pain. This disease will affect your furry companion causing stiffness in the body, so it is difficult for them to move as they should or used to be able to.
Following this, the dog will not show much interest in going for a walk or playing. This is because intense joint pain discourages them from moving around too much. Unfortunately, in certain cases, people do not realize that their dog has osteoarthritis until the symptoms worsen because, initially, the joint pain is not as great. Still, over time it will increase until it becomes truly excruciating pain.
At this point, the dog’s behavior will drastically change. You will notice that your pet is quite apathetic, does not want to share with you, and moves away from the rest of the family members.
If at any point you find that your dog spends most of its time sleeping, whining, or even crying for no reason, you need to stay on your toes and seek proper help. These are signs that your partner is not feeling well and that its discomfort and joint pain are quite serious. As a result of the joint pain caused by canine osteoarthritis, the dog will lie down or sleep for extended periods of time to avoid moving too much and calm its pain a little.
What Are Contributing Factors of canine osteoarthritis?
Although canine arthritis is a condition that any dog can suffer from, certain factors contribute to this disease.
Age: The first of the causes of osteoarthritis in dogs is age. Elderly dogs are much more likely to suffer from canine arthritis. Just like people, dogs are more likely to develop diseases as they reach the later years of their lives.
Body Weight: Another factor that is important to keep in mind is the weight or size of the dog. If the dog belongs to a large breed, the risk of canine arthritis will be much higher than the risk posed to a smaller breed of dog. For example, more than 45% of large or giant breed dogs suffer from canine arthritis. While only 25% of medium to small breeds suffer from canine arthritis.
On the other hand, the dog’s body weight also has a considerable influence on the development of canine arthritis. For example, a dog that suffers from excess weight has a greater risk of suffering from osteoarthritis. In this type of case, the excess weight causes a significant overload on the joints, so the dog cannot move as it should with a relatively normal weight. It is crucial to maintain your dog at a healthy weight to prevent the onset of canine arthritis.
Very active dogs are also at a higher risk for canine arthritis; especially if the dog participates in prolonged intense activity the risk multiplies.
Genetics: Another risk factor of great importance is the predisposition at the genetic level since canine arthritis is many times an inherited disease. Likewise, certain breeds have a higher tendency to suffer from canine arthritis than others, as is the case of the German Shepherd.
What Are treatment options for canine osteoarthritis?
How do you treat canine osteoarthritis? Even though it is a condition that has no cure, there are various things that owners must implement to increase their pet’s quality of life and ensure that their pet does not suffer too much. In addition to the most appropriate care provided by the dog’s owner, it is crucial that the dog also has a proper diet that encourages joint health.
If you see symptoms in your pet that you consider signs of osteoarthritis, take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can give them the most appropriate diagnosis. Although canine osteoarthritis is not curable, the specialist will prescribe a treatment for the dog, that will greatly help control the arthritic pain and prevent further disease progression.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the treatment depends on of the disease has progressed. Your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment plan for your furry friend. There are several treatment plans and alternative solutions that are recommended by specialists which are as follows:
Medications: including antibiotics, joint supplements, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs are all responsible for temporarily reducing arthritic pain.
Food supplements: such as chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. These supplements are responsible for preventing cartilage from continuing to damage and regenerate if possible. There are even supplements that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Surgery: is recommended in some cases, however, not in all cases. There are times when specialists determine that surgery is the best treatment option if the arthritic pain felt by the dog is too intense to be treated with medication.
How To care for your dog with canine arthritis?
Apart from the treatment prescribed by the veterinary specialist, you must adopt habits and routines, which will be of great help to guarantee a better quality of life for the dog, or at least to prevent the arthritic joints from being further damaged.
Exercise: Keep in mind that the joints are responsible for supporting all the body’s weight, and if the dog has excess weight, the joints will suffer much more. If canine arthritis is accompanied by obesity, it will only cause the problem to become worse. So putting your furry friend on an exercise routine is great for his osteoarthritis.
Balanced and complete diet: If you have the option to buy quality food that is excellent! Another great option is to prepare your dog food through a homemade diet of natural products. This takes a little more time to prepare, but it offers significant benefits to your furry friend in regard to the treatment of joint pain.
Consumption of turmeric: This is a well-known spice within Asian culture. It contains a substance called curcumin, which since ancient times has been used as a treatment for many conditions, toothaches, trauma, and also to treat osteoarthritis since the effects it exerts are anti-inflammatory. The best way to offer turmeric to your pet is to sprinkle a little on their food, along with a little black pepper. Another excellent way to give your dog turmeric is to prepare an infusion with the turmeric root and have your dog consume it.
Moderate physical activity and physical therapy: Moderate physical activity is best for dogs with canine arthritis. Try to prevent them from jumping and standing back on their hind legs only. In addition, physical therapy is also a great option for a dog suffering from canine arthritis.
Swimming: This is only for people who can take their pet for a swim since swimming is one of the physical activities that most help dogs with canine arthritis. When a dog swims, the impact on its joints is much less. This is because the water is responsible for supporting the entire body weight of the dog. For this reason, swimming is a perfect activity for your dog that suffers from arthritis to exercise correctly, without the need for additional damage to its joints that are already damaged.