Arthritis is a problem that affects the vast majority of older dogs. But it can also appear in younger animals. While there is no cure, there are treatments and precautions that can be taken to improve the comfort of a dog with arthritis.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is actually a generic word that refers to all joint inflammations. It occurs because of the wear and tear of cartilage in the joints. In fact, the articular cartilage acts as a cushion that prevents the bones of the joint from rubbing together when the dog moves. Over time, this cushion can become thin and even damaged. It does not play its role as it used to. The joints then become painful because of the inflammation.
Arthritis can affect a single joint, but it can also spread and affect several. This is why early treatment is important. It will delay the spread of the problem.
Finally, arthritis should not be confused with osteoarthritis, which causes pain only during movement. Arthritis, on the other hand, causes chronic pain.
What causes arthritis?
As we age, it is natural for cartilage to break down. But this problem can also be a sign of disease.
It is therefore important to identify the causes of arthritis:
- Aging is, as we have seen, the most obvious cause because of the degeneration of cartilage.
- Obesity also favors arthritis because excess weight forces the joints to support too much weight.
- Growth disorders, especially in large dogs that grow rapidly, can cause arthritis.
- Disease: certain pathologies result in the deterioration of cartilage, even in young dogs.
- An accident: the cartilage may have suffered trauma from an injury.
- A congenital problem: such as dysplasia, or luxation of the patella for example.
If you think your dog has arthritis, it is important to consult your veterinarian so that he can establish a reliable and precise diagnosis.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
It is not easy to detect arthritis in dogs. This is because dogs are naturally programmed not to show weakness and pain. Also, dogs do not have nerve endings in the cartilage. When they show signs of pain, it usually means that arthritis has been present for quite some time.
However, here are some signs that should tip you off:
- Difficulty getting up;
- A different gait, limping;
- A loss of energy;
- Difficulty going up or down stairs;
- Sensitivity to the touch of the joint.
At the slightest sign that could suggest arthritis, consult your veterinarian. The earlier the treatment, the more effective it will be in delaying the evolution of the disease.
How is arthritis treated?
The veterinarian will perform a complete examination of your four-legged friend to confirm the diagnosis. He or she may also take x-rays to identify the signs of arthritis for sure. Finally, a blood test is necessary to verify that your pet can tolerate anti-inflammatory treatment.
Depending on the results of these tests, your veterinarian will prescribe a treatment adapted to your dog, aimed at reducing pain and limiting attacks. This treatment can be paracetamol, anti-inflammatory drugs or food supplements containing chondroprotectors.
Treatment will help your pooch regain mobility, but there is no cure for arthritis. You can also help your pooch with some accommodations.
Tips if your dog has arthritis
In addition to the treatment prescribed by your veterinarian, a few simple steps can make your dog's life more comfortable.
First of all, if he is overweight, put him on a diet to get him back to a healthy weight. This is important for his joints, but also for his overall health.
Offer your furry friend regular walks, but adapt them to his condition.
Keep your dog warm, especially at night. Don't let him sleep on the floor, for example. Heat has a beneficial effect on painful joints. There are heating pads, which can be interesting for your canine companion.
Do not hesitate to enrich his bowl with food supplements specifically intended to improve mobility. Ingredients such as chondroitin, glucosamine or green mussel powder have been proven to help relieve joint pain in dogs with arthritis. It is also recommended that the diet be enriched with omega-3.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints due to the wear and tear of cartilage and unfortunately there is no cure for it. However, there are treatments that can relieve pain and some accommodations that can help the dog live more comfortably.
Do you have any tips to share on this topic? Do so in the comments!