As the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs, canine arthritis is a hindering and disabling disease that unfortunately affects 4 out of 5 older dogs. This debilitating disease that can easily begin to progress into worse and worse states as the dog’s condition grows more serious, therefore a dedicated, attentive and caring owner is needed to help their dogs cope with this incurable disease.
What is Canine Arthritis?
Canine Arthritis, also known as Osteoarthritis, is a disease which entails the inflammation of the joints. The cause for the wide spread of this disease, especially with older dogs, is due to the smooth cartilage surfaces around the bones beginning to weaken and thin over time. This cartilage, which would protect the bones from harshly rubbing against each other and allow the surfaces to freely move against each other starts to undergo wear and damage over time, causing pain and discomfort to the dog’s joints. Due to the constant friction, surrounding ligaments, fluids and muscles also begin to experience deterioration, thus this progressive disease can easily worsen. Extra bone growths may develop as well, decreasing the space between the joints and causing even further damage.
While experts are not certain of a precise cause of canine arthritis, weight gain can contribute to more stress upon joints. Moreover, dogs with previous ligament or joint damage are more likely to develop this disease.
Signs and symptoms
It’s important to know the early signs of arthritis in order to offer support and help to your dog. Signs may include:
- Difficulty standing or sitting
- Weight gain
- Lethargy and decreased activity
- Hesitation to run, jump, or exert energy
Management and care
While this progressive disorder isn’t entirely curable, there are methods of care to help your dog cope with this disease and lead an easier, pain-free life. It’s essential for owners of ill dogs to find management options that’ll help relief your dog on a short and long term scale. Some care options could include:
Medication. In relation to the severity of the disease and the symptoms shown by your dog, different types of medication can be administered to help manage and treat the infected area. Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication are of the most common treatments suggested for dogs with arthritis. While the medicine cannot entirely heal the area, it does make the disease easier to live with. In some cases, acupuncture treatments have also been found to relieve pain in great proportions.
Exercise. Low-intensity exercise, which includes swimming and light running, has been found beneficial to dogs with arthritis. A dog should maintain their mobility in order maintain their overall health and to limit weight gain and worsening conditions of the joints. The intensity of the exercise, however, should depend on the severity of arthritis, therefore it is best to consult a veterinary professional regarding this.
Massaging. Massaging of muscles has been found beneficial to many arthritic dogs, since massages can easily stimulate blood flow and ease the stiffness of bones and muscles. Make sure you take your dog to a professional to get this treatment, as an inexperienced person may cause more harm than good.
Comfortable mobility. Sleeping spaces and beds should be padded comfortable and put away from cold drafts or dampness to give your place a good place to rest. Slippery tiles and floors are recommended to be covered with carpets or non-slippery surfaces to make mobility easier for your dog.
Surgery. For some cases, surgical procedures are recommended, especially in cases where repair of ligaments is required to stabilize the joint.
In conclusion, make sure you ask for your vet’s consultation on the most appropriate management and care options available to ensure your dog lives a pain-free and healthy life even with this disease!