Thanks to great owners and advances in veterinary medicine, dogs can enjoy longer, healthier lives than ever before. Progressive joint degeneration, especially when coupled with damage from a previous injury or strain can put a little strain on these longer lifespans, however. Many senior pups simply live with pain, but there are ways to promote comfort and relaxation. Arthritis in dogs may be par for the course, but medical treatment and supportive measures at home can reduce painful symptoms.
The Ouch Factor
Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation. Found in one in five dogs, arthritis is a common condition over the age of ten. Any joint can be affected, and some dogs have arthritis in multiple joints, including the elbow, knee, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, and spine.
Often, arthritis develops long after a fracture or physical trauma to a body part. Arthritis in dogs can also begin at birth or develop as a result from other joint issues in life, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or patellar luxation.
When cartilage between joints wears down over time, arthritis makes movement painful. Consequently, a loss of flexibility and mobility is not unusual.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
Usually the first sign of arthritis in dogs is a general and gradual slowing of pace. They may also not jump up the way they used to, preferring to avoid falls. Other common indicators include the following:
- Limping, or favoring one leg or side
- Increased fatigue or lethargy
- Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activity, like running or hopping into the car
- Obvious sensitivity when touched or handled
- Over-attention to the affected area
- Irritability, aggression, or withdrawal
Quality of LIfe
Arthritis in dogs can cause secondary health problems. Reduced exercise and activity can lead to weight gain. Obesity can decrease their overall quality of life and may lead to heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease. Any extra weight can place more pressure on the joints, increasing the side effects of arthritis.
Chronic pain can also change a dog’s personality and disposition, increasing possible risks of aggression towards other animals in the house or family members.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A physical examination, X-rays, and other diagnostics are instrumental in diagnosing arthritis in dogs. We can also rule out other problems, like an underlying infection, which can exacerbate symptoms.
While arthritis in dogs is incurable, we can treat symptoms with a multi-modal approach that includes:
- Pain medication and supplements
- Supportive treatments like laser therapy, acupuncture, massage, or hydrotherapy
- Lifestyle changes can involve weight management, placing ramps, raised food and water bowls, and heated bedding
Surgery may be an option for certain cases of arthritis in dogs, and we’ll work with you to determine the best course of action.
Always Here For You
Arthritis in dogs can be challenging to face, but it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, when treated and supported, symptoms of the disease can become tolerable.