How to Prevent and Treat Arthritis in Dogs
Many people think that arthritis is just a human condition, but this isn’t the case. Arthritis affects humans and dogs in exactly the same way. This degenerative joint disease occurs when the smooth cartilage that covers the bones of the joints and enables them to move around smoothly starts to wear away, causing bone-on-bone friction to occur. This triggers inflammation along with the development of bony growths, sometimes called spurs, which form around the joints. As a result, your canine pal will start to experience stiffness, pain and difficulty moving around.
Some breeds of dogs are more likely to suffer from arthritis, particularly as they get older. These include giant breeds, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. Dogs who are overweight, who have suffered trauma to any of their limbs or injuries like cruciate ligament tears (CCL tears) and kneecap dislocations are also more likely to suffer from degenerative joint disorders.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
Dogs are exceptionally good at masking signs of illness and pain. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to tell if your canine pal is suffering from arthritis. Some of the most common symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:
- Reluctance to move around
- Yelping or snapping when touched
- Licking, chewing or biting their joints
- Loss of appetite
If your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, we recommend that you make an appointment with our veterinary team so that we can assess them for the possibility of arthritis, or any other problem that is causing them to be uncomfortable.
Prevention and treatment of arthritis in dogs
Diet and weight management are two of the most important factors to consider when it comes to preventing and treating arthritis in dogs. Dogs who are overweight will automatically have greater pressure placed onto their joints, and this can actually speed up degeneration of the cartilage as well as making the joints have to work harder to support their size. Our veterinary team will be able to advise you if your pet is overweight. If so, we may recommend a calorie-controlled diet and increased levels of gentle exercise to help reduce their weight and take some of the pressure off of their joints. For dogs whose mobility is severely affected, water-based therapy such as an underwater treadmill or swimming may be an option as this helps them to get the exercise they need while placing minimal stress onto their body. We can discuss this with you based on your dog’s needs.
Our veterinary team may also recommend that you consider providing your dog with supplements to their regular diet. Omega 3 supplements have been shown to be particularly effective in helping to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. This is because omega 3 has been shown to be extremely valuable for joint health, helping to reduce inflammation and improve movement within the joints.
If your dog’s arthritis is moderate to severe, your vet may recommend that they be prescribed medications to help ease their discomfort and make moving around easier. These medications could include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections into the joints themselves or in severe cases, a joint replacement. Physical therapy, acupuncture and other drug-free therapies can also prove beneficial.
If you are concerned that your dog may be affected by arthritis, don’t let them suffer a moment longer. Call Brekke Veterinary Clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado at 303-474-4260 to schedule an appointment.