Arthritis is a degenerative medical condition experienced by dogs in one or more joints. It is a painful condition that makes the life of a canine miserable over time. A study shows that 20% of canines suffer from arthritis in their lives. Arthritis degenerates the limbs, and this is evident as the dog ages.
All dogs – young and old are susceptible. Some large-breed dogs are more affected than small dogs. Other causes:
- A joint condition such as infection, dislocation, fracture or cartilage damage can lead to arthritis.
- Injury to ligaments or tendons puts the animal at higher risk of arthritis.
- Inherited medical conditions such as hip dysplasia increase the risk of developing arthritis and should be monitored regularly.
- Overweight or obesity puts a lot of heaviness on the joints and may lead to arthritis.
Signs and symptoms
The dog may:
- Walk lamely or favor one of the legs while walking
- Move awkwardly
- Sit and rise up cautiously
- Behavioral changes, such as not willing to jump on the things that he used to
- Stay away from climbing stairs or running
- Moan in pain on touching a certain limb
Some signs are more noticeable in the morning hours or after rising up from a nap. Some climatic conditions like cold and dampness may increase their problems like stiffness and hence pain.
The condition is not curable, but treatment ensures that his life becomes better. There is a combination of treatment given which comprises exercises and weight management along with medication.
Exercise: Low impact exercises that do not put much stress on the joints of dogs are ideal. Exercises that can be practiced are:
- Swimming: It does not put much pressure on the joints and is good for recuperation. It helps in maintaining muscle mass.
- Underwater treadmill is effective and fulfills the physical exercise requirements.
- Controlled jogging and leash walking are most apt exercises for arthritic dogs.
Keeping weight at a particular level is vital part of the treatment. More fat means more hormones being released, resulting in pain. If the dog is overweight, a weight reduction program should be implemented.
The treatment done with needles has shown promise with good results.
Homeopathic pain relief for dogs
Plant-based ingredients of homeopathic medicines have been used for centuries and are helpful for curing arthritis in dogs.
- NSAID or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed commonly.
- Non-NSAID medications include tramadol, Fentanyl, gabapentin and buprenorphine. These can be given in combination with NSAIDs to provide relief from joint pain.
- Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs given to reduce swelling in the joints.
- Narcotics are administered in extreme conditions.
- Neutraceutical supplements are compounds that occur in foods capable of lowering pain and other symptoms. Some popular used are chondroitin, glucosamine and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). These can be used in combination with the pharmaceutical medicines.
- Stem cell therapy is a relatively new treatment and is promising too.
- Surgery should be considered if all other methods fail. It depends on the type of joint involved. Options involve arthrodesis (fusing damaged joints), total hip replacement, and removing femoral head.
Prevention of arthritis in dogs
Arthritis can be prevented with certain methods. These are:
- Keep your dog as active as possible
- Keep a check on your dog’s weight
- Incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids in his diet
- Trim nails regularly
- Give warm baths or apply heating pads to the joints
- Use dog mobility products if the condition has reached an advanced stage
- Buy furniture with small steps and ramps
- Keep foods in raised feeders or low tables
- Give gentle massages
- Keep soft bedding/buy a good quality mattress
Certain preventive measures and treatment (if required) can make life of the canine easy by improving muscle mass and flexibility. A conjunction of two or more treatment options ensures good results with fewer side effects.
Joseph Watson is a content writer in a popular pet care community by profession and loves to write on topics related to pet animals. He mainly covers topics related to health, fitness and pet care products related to various pet problems like joints pain in dogs and cats and other painful disease. He prefers natural remedies for quick fixes and has a list ready with most practical methods for pets.