All you need to know about arthritis in dogs | DefineDog

All you need to know about arthritis in dogs

Arthritis may be a common age-related condition in both people and dogs. Few older dogs will avoid it, especially as canine lifespans still increase. At a light level, arthritis may be a nuisance which will cause stiffness, discomfort, and intolerance to exercise.

More severe cases can impact a dog’s overall well being, leave them in constant pain, and sometimes leads to euthanasia. However, there are many things owners can do to manage arthritis and enable a pet to enjoy its twilight years.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis may be a condition where the joints of the body become inflamed resulting in stiffness and pain. In humans, there are two sorts of arthritis – osteoarthritis and atrophic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints and typically affects older people or those that have suffered a severe injury to the joints. atrophic arthritis is caused by the system attacking the body and may occur at any age.

Most dogs with arthritis are going to be affected by osteoarthritis. Dogs don’t suffer from atrophic arthritis as humans do, but they will suffer from immune-mediated polyarthritis, which is analogous and is caused by the system attacking the dog’s own body. Often it’s a result of infection or another underlying condition like cancer and is, therefore, a symbol of something else, instead of an illness on its own. Dogs with immune-mediated polyarthritis are going to be lame and stiff, but can also be affected by fever, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Immune-mediated polyarthritis is rare but requires veterinary diagnosis and treatment because the condition features a different root cause to osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis will affect 1 in 5 dogs during their lifetime. It causes the affected joint to swell painfully. A healthy joint should have a smooth surface where the 2 bones meet. this permits the bones to maneuver past each other easily. The protective surface that ensures a joint can move freely and without pain is named cartilage. This vital structure is unfortunately very slow to regenerate, meaning that it can become worn away, leaving the bone ends to rub together. This causes inflammation and pain related to arthritis.

If nothing is completed to assist the joint, then over time the body attempts to compensate by growing new bone. This causes the bones of the joint to become thicker and stiff, excess bone may form ‘spurs’ that stick out from the joint and cause further pain. Ultimately, a dog could also be unwilling to use the affected limb because it’s too painful.

What Causes Arthritis?

While wear and tear may result in osteoarthritis, most dogs affected by the condition have either had an accident during their lifetime that has damaged a bone or suffer from an underlying joint problem that has left them susceptible to the disease.

Accidents that end in a broken bone or damage to the joints will predispose a dog to arthritis, especially if surgery is required to fuse bones or repair joints. Dogs that are in an accident should be placed on joint supplements before arthritis develops and kept slim and well-muscled to minimize the likelihood of future complications.

Joint deformities that a dog has had all its life often end in arthritis. These include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patella (slipping kneecaps), and spinal problems, especially in dogs with long backs. Many dogs with mild sorts of these conditions will show no sign of them until arthritis develops. Responsible breeders will have a vet test their dogs for these conditions and only breed from sound animals. Buying a puppy from health-tested parents will minimize the probability of that dog developing arthritis in later life.

Repetitive strain injuries also can end in arthritis. as an example, chasing after a ball repeatedly on a day to day can cause wear and tear on a dog’s wrists or neck, which may end in arthritis. Jumping up and down on hard surfaces, like concrete, also can be an element, as microscopic damage is completed to the joints with each impact of every landing. Over time this will become chronic arthritis.

One final risk factor for arthritis is controversial. The removal of a dog’s front dewclaws may predispose that dog to develop arthritis within the wrists, particularly if the dog is involved in high energy activities, like agility. Chris Zink, DVM, of John Hopkins University has written extensively on this subject and therefore the reasons why the shortage of front dewclaws could lead to future problems.

Can I Prevent My Dog Getting Arthritis?

Whether your dog will get arthritis or not is predicated on a variety of things, some of which can be out of your control.

If you’re buying a puppy, then sourcing one from a breeder who has the sire and dam health tested (this will involve x-raying hips and elbows, and having a vet check their knees, along with side DNA tests that are breed-specific) will reduce your odds of getting a puppy with a joint issue which will cause arthritis in later life. Unfortunately, genetics is complicated and even with health-tested parents a puppy may need a joint problem, but the risks are far less than if you purchase from a breeder who does no health tests.

If you’ve got adopted a rescue dog, then health-testing isn’t getting to be an option which is one variable that’s out of your control. You can, however, have an adult dog x-rayed to work out the soundness of its hips, elbows, and spine before participating in intense dog sports like agility or flyball.

Avoiding over-exercising a puppy also can prevent early joint damage. This doesn’t mean a puppy gets no exercise, but it should be appropriate. For instance:

Do allow puppies to free play (explore, sniff, wander) on the grass and other soft surfaces.
Don’t force them to steer on lead for miles on concrete paths.
Do break their exercise into small mini-walks of 10-30 minutes counting on age (by 6 months you’ll consider increasing it).
Don’t throw balls or other toys, as dogs chasing after thrown objects can strain their joints.
Don’t allow puppies to run up and downstairs, or to leap down onto concrete or other hard surfaces.
Weight may be a think about arthritis care that an owner can manage. Overweight dogs are more susceptible to arthritis, and people who have already got arthritis will suffer more if they need excess weight to hold. Keeping a dog slim will help enormously to avoid putting extra strain on joints.

Maintaining fitness also can help. this suggests your dog having an honest all-around muscular condition, with a toned core (tummy) and well-defined muscles on the hind legs. If your dog is lacking muscular tonus, a canine physiotherapist is going to be ready to assist you in developing your fitness.

Even with our greatest efforts, sometimes dogs will develop arthritis then we must manage the matter and aim to stay them as happy and cozy as possible.

How Do I do know if My Dog Has Arthritis?

The first sign most owners have of their dog affected by arthritis is once they look stiff after exercise or when rising from sleep. this might be overlooked as simply a symbol of adulthood.

As the problem progresses, a dog may develop lameness, and become slower on their daily walk, perhaps refusing to travel out in the least.

In dogs with arthritis in their hips (a common location for arthritis) there could also be a clear narrowing of the hip and hind limb area. this is often thanks to muscle loss caused by the dog avoiding putting an excessive amount of weight on their hind limbs. Conversely, the dog may appear to be more muscular on their front quarters, as they’re attempting to hold their weight totally on their forelimbs.

A dog could seem grumpy, growling when touched or moved, especially when sleeping. they’ll seem to lack energy and just want to get around all day.

Dogs may lick the world round the sore joint. Chronic licking can cause hotspots (sore patches of skin that easily become infected) or red staining of the fur in light-coated dogs.

A dog may show reluctance to leap up onto furniture or to climb stairs. If they need been doing an athletic sport like field trials, they’ll display reluctance to perform activities they want to do with ease.

In some cases, you’ll be ready to feel or see that a joint is swollen or hot to the touch.

How Is Arthritis Treated?

There is no cure for arthritis and, unfortunately, it’s a condition that will worsen with time. However, there are things an owner can do to slow the progression of the disease and keep their dog moving.

Joint Supplements

There is an enormous range of joint supplements out there for dogs, and therefore the choice is often somewhat overwhelming. an honest joint supplement can help ease inflammation and improve mobility. It can even assist within the repair or maintenance of cartilage, though remember that an arthritic joint can never be fully restored to normal. The three key ingredients a joint supplement should have are:

– Glucosamine hydrochloride. Helps to alleviate arthritic pain by reducing inflammation.
– Chondroitin Sulfate. Can prevent cartilage from being weakened and stimulate it to regrow and repair itself.
– Methylsulfonylmethane. An anti-inflammatory that also helps protect cartilage and reduces joint pain.

Veterinary Pain Relief

In cases of severe arthritis, a prescription painkiller and anti-inflammatory could also be necessary to enable your dog to maneuver about freely. These got to be supplied by a vet and may have side-effects that require to be taken under consideration. Human painkillers like aspirin and paracetamol, shouldn’t tend to dogs without consulting your vet. Ibuprofen should never tend to a dog because it is toxic to them.

Reducing Weight

If a pet is overweight, then those extra pounds are putting a strain on already sore joints. By reducing their weight, that pressure is reduced and can enable them to deal with their arthritis better.


This spice has been utilized in ancient medicine but is merely slowly being recognized by modern science as having anti-inflammatory properties which will help reduce the pain of arthritis. It is often bought as a billboard preparation for dogs, or prepared reception using this recipe.

Physiotherapy and Massage

Veterinary physiotherapists are trained to spot when a dog isn’t moving correctly and the way to create up muscles appropriately to help the dog’s joints. Since every dog is different, and as an exercise that will be beneficial to at least one could also be detrimental to a different, it’s important to seek out a qualified physio and have a bespoke exercise program developed for your pet.

Physios usually offer massage also, but you’ll also find canine massage specialists. While massage cannot alleviate joint pain, it can loosen muscles that became stiff thanks to the dog using them incorrectly due to their arthritis. within the UK the Canine Massage Guild not only offers workshops to owners eager to learn massage but features a full list of guild members so you’ll find one in your area.

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