Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder that can greatly affect the quality of life of your furry friend. While this painful condition has no cure there are ways that you can help to manage their pain and make life easier. Our Benton vets tell us what the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs are, the causes and how we can help manage this condition for our canine companions.
Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in dogs and is a degenerative joint disorder that leads to a permanent deterioration of the cartilage that provides cushioning for the joints. This painful condition is estimated to affect about a quarter of all dogs throughout their lifetime.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
The painful joints caused by osteoarthritis can lead to a number of tell-tail signs that your dog may be suffering from osteoarthritis. The main symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs include:
- Pain, stillness and lameness
- Swollen joints
- Refusal to jump, use stairs or run
- Reluctance to stand up
- Restlessness, can't get comfortable
- Lack of enthusiasm for walks or play
- Whining, irritability or aggression
- Licking joints
- Slow shuffling walk
Common Causes of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
While osteoarthritis can develop in any breed of dog, it is more commonly diagnosed in larger breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, and Rottweilers.
The actual cause of osteoarthritis is largely unknown but this condition is often associated with underlying issues such as an injury due to trauma, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate injury, or dislocations of the shoulder or knee.
Osteoarthritis has also been shown to be caused by obesity. If your dog is carrying excess weight this can put unnecessary stress on the dog's joints leading to pain, and degenerative joint issues over time.
Providing a Comfortable Life For Dogs With Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis in dogs is a lifelong condition that is unable to be cured or reversed. Your dog can, however, undergo treatment for this condition that can help to reduce the pain caused by the affected joints, helps to slow the ongoing degeneration of the affected joints and allows your dog to live more comfortably, and enjoy a good quality of life as they continue to age. Often a number of treatments will be used together to achieve pain relief and more comfortable mobility.
Pain Management Using Medication
Painkillers such as anti-inflammatories are often prescribed as a long-term treatment for managing your dog’s joint pain and helping to reduce swelling.
Exercise for a Healthy Life
Although it may seem counterintuitive exercise is essential for dogs with osteoarthritis. It may be necessary to cut back on exercise when your dog is first diagnosed with osteoarthritis however staying mobile will help your dog to maintain fitness, achieve a healthy weight, relieve joint pain and enjoy a good quality of life.
Exercise will need to be tailored to your dog's overall health and severity of osteoarthritis. Your vet will be sure to recommend the best level of exercise to help relieve your dog's osteoarthritis symptoms.
Managing Your Dog's Weight with Diet
Managing your dog's weight will be a key element of their treatment for osteoarthritis. Increased weight puts increased stress on your dog's joints so keeping weight at a healthy level will help to minimize the pain caused by the condition.
Your vet may recommend putting your dog on a calorie-reduced diet if their exercise level has been reduced, or a diet supplemented with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids as a way to combat symptoms.
Physical Rehabilitation for Dogs
Physical rehabilitation is the name for physiotherapy for dogs and can include a number of treatments that are designed to help reduce pain while strengthening and improving muscle tone, maintaining range of motion and working to improve overall endurance.
Physiotherapy for dogs with osteoarthritis may include one or more of the following treatments: therapeutic exercises, therapeutic ultrasound, cold laser therapy, regenerative therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, underwater treadmill or pool therapy, and massage, combined with conventional treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications.
Your vet will be able to help you find a qualified Canine Physical Rehabilitation practitioner in your area to help treat your dog.
Surgery for osteoarthritis in dogs
If your dog's joint damage is particularly extensive your vet may recommend surgery to help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of your dog's osteoarthritis. Surgery may be performed to remove bone fragments that are aggravating the condition or to replace the affected joints.
How to Manage Osteoarthritis in Dogs
With effective long-term pain management and a little additional care, your dog may be able to enjoy a long and happy life even with osteoarthritis. The main thing will be pain management in order to ensure that your dog can continue living an active healthy life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.