Arthritis can be painful for dogs as it is for humans- but ways has been developed to ease the pain, stiffness and discomfort in your pets.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis can be referred to as an ‘inflammation caused in the joints’ and is also a common problem for many canines.
The surfaces of bones in a dog’s joints are usually covered with thin layers of smooth cartilages that are well lubricated with small amount of fluid that gives room for both surfaces to glide easily and freely over one another with very minimal friction.
For dogs with arthritis, the cartilages witching the joints are exposed to changes or worst still, damages. This makes the joints movements to be less smooth, causing the bone surfaces to rub against each other. The pain caused here is in no doubt unbearable.
Once this happens, it causes extreme discomfort to your pet, and without immediate treatment, more damage is caused to the cartilage. Once friction increases, new bones begins to form around the joints causing it to be stiffer.
This causes limitation in movements and even worst, a very terrible condition known as DJD (degenerative joint disease).
What causes arthritis?
Arthritis is a problem typically seen in older dogs, nevertheless, the condition can progress from an early age following issues with joints and bones development.
One or more dog’s joints may be affected by arthritis depending on what caused it. Most arthritis in dogs develop due to abnormal rubbing of the joints, caused by instability in the joints.
Complications in the joints such as ligament damage, damage as a result of trauma or fractures, and damage to the cartilages or abnormality in the development of cartilage can all lead to arthritis in dogs.
Signs of arthritis in dogs, like humans, can be different all through the animal’s life and lead to early onset of joint issues in older dogs.
What are the signs of arthritis in dogs?
Dog owners may often inquire how they can tell if their dog is suffering from arthritis. It is not uncommon to see your dog in pain as the disease causes stiffness and pain, and they may also not be interested in exercising as they use to in the past.
They may also show signs of stiffness and obvious lameness in the affected area especially after a long time of rest.
Although stiffness May improve if you can get your dog to resume physical exercises but ensure to keep your dog warm, since cold or damp weather conditions can considerably worsen the symptoms.
Other signs of arthritis may be subtle and not easily detectable, but some dogs may continually lick on painful joints. Some dogs may display obvious signs of pain, while others would become grumpy or even slow and uninterested in any activities.
How are dogs diagnosed with arthritis?
If your veterinarian senses your dog is suffering from arthritis, they can sometimes detect which joints are affected by any discomfort and/or pain by examination by joint extension and flexion.
Nonetheless, vets may resolve to carrying out an x-ray for thorough investigation, which can be used to confirm and pinpoint arthritic changes and even sometimes used to find any underlying causes.
They may also take some sample of fluid from your dog, or sometimes take blood samples. This is required to run test to rule out any medical conditions linked with arthritis.
Ways to treat arthritis in dogs?
With countless therapy options available these days, it is very vital to match treatments with your dog’s underlying cause and joint(s) connected to it.
Arthritis is usually worse in dogs that are unfit and overweight, so it is crucial that the therapy option includes exercise management and weight control. Ensure to minimize load on joints and maximize the fitness of the muscles and range of movement around joints.
Most patients show improvements from anti inflammatory therapy in only a few weeks or months, and with long-term medications therapy proving to be even more useful. Pain relief is also crucial and one of the most common painkillers veterinarians use are known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAIDs).
What possible medications for dogs with arthritis are available?
If your veterinarian suspects your dog has arthritis, the dog may need treatment on numerous occasions over its lifetime, with administered treatments ranging greatly in terms of medications and timescale between patients to provide your dog with the best immediate, effective and long-term solution.
Three major families of drugs used in successfully treating arthritis in dogs are readily available. The first class of drugs are cartilages protectors made to minimize damage in cartilages (including polysulphated gylcosaminoglycans, pentosan polysulphate and hyaluronic acids).
All these can be administered to help reduce cartilages degeneration, as well as improve joint structures repairs. They can also help to minimize painful joint inflammation.
Nutraceuticals are not regarded as medicinal products, but are referred to as feed supplements that are made to boost the healthy functions in dogs.
Consult with your veterinarian for more information on the best joint supplements to use.
Joint supplements are often given as treats along with prescription medicines administered by your vet.
The third drug is the anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It seem like the ideal drug for tackling inflammation linked with arthritis, but complications may arise after prolong use of the drugs.
In the short term, medications with the strongest impact on inflammations and analgesia are often the first choice, however, long-term use may prove detriment to patients, so it’s best to seek professional advice.
Newer drugs are constantly being developed and are becoming available for medical use. This means that the development of a successful management program in dogs with arthritis or dogs treating arthritis requires constant reviews of updated medications with precise progress reports from dog owners.
Can arthritis in dogs be cured?
Unfortunately in regards to prognosis, it’s a case that once cartilage in your pet’s joint(s) has been affected, it is unlikely that it completely repairs itself.
But the good part is, pets can successfully live their lives pain-free by moderate long-term use of medications and proper management to control future joint(s) deterioration.
With different severity of arthritis between sufferers, many canines cope well, leading to full and active social lives with little or no veterinary intervention at all.
However, some cases in dogs with arthritis may require medical treatment ranging from basic lifestyle changes to major surgeries.
Who can I get in touch with for further advice?
It is important you contact your veterinarian immediately you suspect your dog isn’t feeling too well. This is to ensure early treatment for you pet before the condition gets out of hands. You can also discuss treatment option for your dog and how best to go about it.
Does your dog have arthritis? What treatment methods have you adopted? How were you able to detect that your dog has arthritis? Share with us in the comments below.