Arthritis tends to be thought of as a purely human condition, but in fact, it is a very common problem in animals, particularly those who are entering their senior years.
Canine arthritis occurs when the cartilage within the joint undergoes age-related changes or becomes damaged. This results in it becoming less smooth and the bone surfaces will rub together more abrasively, causing pain and degeneration of the joint.
Common symptoms of canine arthritis include:
- Difficulty moving
- A hunched back or abnormal posture
- Tiredness and irritability
- Licking, chewing, and biting of painful body areas
- Muscle wastage caused by inactivity (due to pain during movement)
If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from canine arthritis, you should seek the advice of our vet. With the right adjustments and management, you may be able to prevent the symptoms from worsening.
Treating canine arthritis
In the majority of cases, we will recommend a variety of treatments that are designed to help reduce inflammation in the joint and alleviate the pain that your dog is feeling. This is because it is virtually impossible to make changes to the arthritic joint itself without performing surgery. Instead, most canines can obtain sufficient relief to make their life more comfortable using the following treatments and therapies.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
As their name suggests, these drugs can be used to dramatically reduce inflammation in the joint, making it easier and less painful for your pet to move. However, you must make sure you only give NSAIDs that are prescribed by a vet and never human varieties, as these are not safe for dogs. Your pet will also have to be monitored since NSAIDs can also cause gastrointestinal problems and in some instances, liver or kidney problems.
Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan is a medication that is injected to inhibit bad enzymes that break down cartilage in your dog’s joints. This medication helps relieve the pain of arthritis by soothing and lubricating the inflamed joint in addition to stimulating joint cartilage repair. Simply put, it helps your dog’s body heal and prevent further deterioration of your pets’ joints.
Some nutritional supplements have also been shown to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with canine arthritis. These include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, Pentagenesis, and methylsulfonylmethane. We will be able to advise you of the correct dosage and frequency with which they should be given in order to aid your pet.
If your canine friend is really suffering and seems unable to get sufficient relief from the treatments described above, we will discuss the possibility of surgery.
The exact surgery we recommend will depend on the joint involved but could potentially mean fusing damaged joints, removing part of the joint or giving a total joint replacement. We will talk you through the pros and cons of considering surgery.
Other ways to support a dog with arthritis
In addition to treatment, there are some other things that you can do to support your arthritic pet and keep her as comfortable as possible.
Monitor body weight. Being overweight or obese places extra strain on the joints in the body, including those which are affected by arthritis. If your dog is overweight, ask our vet for advice on the best diet to get weight under control.
Ask for a referral to a massage therapist. Massage has been shown to improve a dog’s flexibility, circulation and sense of wellbeing.
Make the home environment as comfortable as possible. You can do this byproviding soft, supportive bedding, keep everything needed on one floor and install ramps to help tackle stairs.
Carpets and rugs will help your dog get traction on the floor while walking to prevent slipping. You should also make sure your dog is warm and dry, as cold conditions can aggravate arthritis and cause more pain.
If you would like more advice on how to help manage your arthritic dog’s condition, call Pet Wellness Clinic today.