Dog arthritis is one of the most common dog problems and its owner will have to deal with it. Dog arthritis usually occurs in older dogs, but even younger dogs can suffer from the same, mainly because of genetics or unhealthy growth and development.
In a dog’s body, there is a joint where two bones meet. At the joint, bones are covered with a thin layer of cartilage, and in-between the cartilages is a cavity filled with a substance known as joint fluid. It is this fluid that allows bones to slide over each other at the joint without wearing out as it provides lubrication.
How Arthritis Occurs
Several circumstances, like genetics, age or injury, may cause the cartilage covering a bone to change in structure, becoming thinner than usual. As a result, the bone becomes less smooth, leading to bones at the joints rubbing together every time your dog moves.
This causes further damage to the cartilage, something that is highly uncomfortable and painful for your dog. New bone called bone spurs starts growing on top and around the existing bone, leading to more contact between the bones at the joint. This limits movement and makes it more painful for your dog to make even the simplest of movements.
How to Detect Dog Arthritis
The most common joints which arthritis affects in a dog’s body occur in the following areas:
- Lower back
As a dog owner, you can detect arthritis by noting your dog’s movement. A dog may suddenly become uninterested in taking walks or even fetching. If his favorite spot to sleep on was in a high place, he might be unable to get up there. Sometimes a dog may release a deep groan before settling down on his haunches and experience difficulty when he has to get back up.
Some dogs repeatedly lick the area around the joint, which is hurting them, leaving a dark spot after a while. You should look out for this when handling your pet. Appetite changes, oversleeping, and soiling themselves are signs which are easier to observe and should prompt you to visit the vet.
How Arthritis is Diagnosed and Treated
Your vet may use a simple examination to test if your dog has arthritis. He might flex and stretch the joint suspected to be arthritic. The vet might also suggest more extensive tests like x-rays to locate the correct joint and even see what might have caused arthritis.
The underlying cause of the arthritis is mainly what determines the treatment method. Since arthritis leads to reduced movement by your dog, more weight is carried by ailing joints. As such, the vet will prescribe a therapy combination that will aid in weight loss and increase the range of movement to help the joints.
This may be through a change in the diet to increase the level of omega-3 fatty acid that reduces joint inflammation. Exercise and physical therapy may also be prescribed, like massage, stretching, cold, and heat therapy to increase your dog’s range of motion. Acupuncture may also be prescribed to relieve pain.
Your dog might also be prescribed medication that may span different timelines to provide immediate relief and treat the problem long-term. There are three main classes of medication used to treat canine arthritis:
Nutraceuticals are feed supplements prescribed to aid in healthy joint development. These supplements generally contain chondroitin and glucosamine, minerals that occur naturally in joint cartilage to boost this mineral content in the joints and decrease the growth of bone spurs. These can be used alongside other drugs without side effects.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are another class of drugs that act as anti-inflammatories. These reduce the swelling in the joints affected by arthritis and are used to provide short-term relief for your dog. They are not to be used in the long-term as they can have serious health effects on your dog.
Cartilage protectors are prescribed to reduce damage wreaked on the cartilage by arthritis. They also aid in repairing the joints and may be prescribed for the long-term.
How You Can Aid In Canine Arthritis Treatment
Arthritic joints rarely recover entirely from the cartilage damage. The drugs prescribed may go a long way in providing relief for your dog, but proper home care is necessary for managing the pain. In addition to administering the drugs as prescribed, there are other things you can do to help your dog.
Create comfortable resting areas for your dog that will not require gymnastics. Provide padded bedding in warm areas where your dog can lie on during the day. If there are raised surfaces inside or outside your home like stairs, get padding or a ramp. It will ease the slope and make it easier for your dog to move.
Carpeting is also essential to reduce the amount of bone-jarring your dog might experience when moving. Identify the slippery areas around your house and provide for nonskid flooring to prevent accidents.
You can provide relief for your dog at home even when they are on medication. Massage the muscles to activate blood flow into the arthritic joints. Do it gently, avoiding pressing too hard on the affected areas. You can also place warm compresses over the joints to provide comfort. Take care that the compresses are not too hot in order not to scold your dog.
A proper diet is vital to keep your dog active and healthy without giving him too much extra weight. This is because your dog is probably making less movement, and his regular diet may be detrimental to his improvement.
Natural food is good, and the fresher it is, the better. Find foods that are anti-inflammatory like celery, coconut oil and ginger, and also foods that have antioxidant properties like alfalfa. Muscle-building foods like sweet potatoes are also great in rejuvenating your dog’s bones.
Increasing the range of your dog’s movement is essential if they have arthritis. Some great ways to help your pet move around and put their joints into gentle use is swimming, game catch and walking slowly over short distances.
Stem Cell Therapy
Although there are many ways how to treat your arthritic dog, many of them don’t provide desired results in long-term. They only help to deal with pain or symptom suppression without preventing them or problem itself. Thereby, they are wasting your money and important time. While new and innovative Stem Cell Therapy can help to regenerate damaged tissues and not only help to prevent arthritis caused pain, but also symptoms and disease.
It will quickly get your dog back on its feet, save your money in the long-term and increase the quality of your dog’s life. Find out more about Stem Cell options for your dog here.
Canine arthritis may not be completely treatable in most of the cases, but your dog can live a long and painless life if proper care is taken. Apart from getting the right professional help, you can help your pet even at home. This can involve simple, inexpensive methods that will go a long way in treating dog arthritis.