Doggy Arthritis: What Every Pet Owner Should Know

Did you know that arthritis is extremely common in dogs? Approximately 25% of our furry friends are affected. Arthritis can affect dogs of all ages, but it is most often seen in older pups. In fact, approximately 80 percent of dogs over the age of eight experience this condition. Continue reading as a local Aurora, CO veterinarian discusses this uncomfortable condition.

Understanding Canine Arthritis

Arthritis in dogs and humans is very similar. This condition can be quite painful for both people and pets. It occurs when the soft tissues surrounding joints deteriorate, resulting in bone-on-bone contact.

Among the various types of canine arthritis, osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the one most frequently observed in dogs.

Arthritis can cause discomfort for dogs, hindering their ability to engage in activities like running, jumping, and playing. It can also lead to a decline in Fido’s health and overall quality of life. This sometimes turns into a downward spiral. Your canine companion may become less active, leading to a decrease in muscle mass and an increased risk of obesity.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Arthritis?

Since arthritis typically manifests slowly at first, it can be easy to overlook the symptoms. Fido’s limping is usually the first thing people notice about him. Your furry friend may appear stiff and uncomfortable, particularly when he first gets up from his doggy bed. Initially, the limp may gradually improve as your pet starts to move around. As his condition advances, it will become increasingly noticeable.

Another aspect to be mindful of is the potential difficulty encountered when entering and exiting cars, navigating stairs, and even standing up and sitting down. Your pup may also be reluctant to let you touch painful areas, and may show that by flinching or attempting to move away. Dogs in severe pain may even snap or bite.

Here are a few additional factors to consider:

  • Stiffness
  • Decreased enthusiasm for play
  • Limited ability to engage in physical activity
  • Engaging in the behavior of licking or nibbling on sore spots, especially on the paws and legs
  • Tiredness 
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawal

It’s important to be aware that symptoms can sometimes worsen rapidly. That’s because cartilage lacks nerve endings. Fido may not experience the effects of arthritis until the tissue has significantly deteriorated.

If you observe any of these warning signs, make sure to contact your Aurora, CO veterinarian promptly. It is crucial to identify and address any problems as early as possible for optimal outcomes.

How Do I Care For My Arthritic Dog?

Your vet will be able to provide specific advice. However, there are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind.

  • A good doggy exercise regime is crucial. Naturally, you wouldn’t want to push your furry friend too hard. Short and frequent walks are ideal for most pups. Make sure to closely monitor Fido’s behavior and bring him indoors when he appears fatigued.
  • Maintaining regular pawdicures is also beneficial. Having long nails can make it difficult for your pup to maintain good traction and can alter the angle of their toes when they walk or run. Both of these are not satisfactory!
  • Consider getting your furry friend pet ramps or stairs to assist with getting in and out of the car and accessing the bed, if permitted.
  • Make sure that your furry friend has a comfortable bed to rest in. Orthopedic beds are an excellent choice due to the added support they provide.
  • It is crucial to manage Fido’s weight. Obesity will only worsen the problem. Ask your vet for specific recommendations. 
  • If you have floors, it may be a good idea to put down runners or area rugs to enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your space. This will ensure that your furry friend can maintain a secure hold, while also offering protection in the event of any accidental slips or falls.
  • Cold and wet weather can worsen arthritis symptoms. Ensure that Fido remains warm and dry during gloomy weather!
  • If you choose to bathe your pooch at home, it might be worth considering taking him to a professional groomer. Getting in and out of the tub might pose a challenge for Fido. Groomers have stations that are designed to be more accessible for pups.

Consult your Aurora, CO veterinarian for personalized guidance.

What Causes  Canine Arthritis?

Arthritis is often caused by the inevitable effects of wear and tear on the body. All that running, playing, and jumping wears down Fido’s joints. Over time, the cushioning tissue gradually becomes thinner and less elastic.

However, there are additional factors that play a role. Fido may be more vulnerable following an infection or injury. Improper exercise routines can worsen these problems, whether it’s excessive, insufficient, or not the right type of exercise. Dogs that experienced health issues or inadequate exercise routines during their early years may face higher risks as well. Our canine pals grow at a very rapid pace, which puts a lot of strain on their bodies.

Other illnesses, such as diabetes, can sometimes trigger arthritis as well.

How Is Canine Arthritis Treated?

There are numerous treatment options available, along with various measures you can take at home to assist your beloved canine companion. Ultimately, the options will be contingent upon the severity and stage of Fido’s condition. treatments are always provided based on individual circumstances. After thoroughly evaluating your furry friend, your vet can discuss the available options with you.

  • Medications, such as NSAIDS, can be effective in reducing both pain and inflammation.  
  • In certain situations, surgery may be an option.
  • Laser therapy is a potential solution. This effortless, noninvasive procedure can help promote the body’s innate healing abilities. It is also a highly effective treatment for canine arthritis.
  • Physical therapy can be beneficial as well.
  • Alternative options may involve practices like massage and acupuncture.
  • Swimming may be a viable choice for certain dogs, provided that your furry friend enjoys it and is physically suited for it. Not all puppies are comfortable in the water.
  • Supplements can also provide assistance. Arthritic pups often benefit from the use of glucosamine and fish oil.

There are also new treatments coming out all the time. Ask your vet for more information.

Do Specific Breeds Have A Higher Likelihood Of Developing Arthritis?

Although arthritis can affect any dog, certain breeds have a higher susceptibility to this condition. It is quite common among many larger dogs.

  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retriever
  • English Mastiff
  • St. Bernard
  • Newfoundland
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Dachshund
  • Rottweiler
  • Samoyed
  • Boxer
  • Chow Chow
  • English Springer Spaniel

What Are The Stages Of Arthritis In Dogs?

Arthritis is categorized into four stages. There is an initial stage, known as stage zero, in which Fido displays no indications of or risk factors for arthritis.

Stage 1: The pup’s tests and screenings show no abnormalities, but there is still a potential risk.

Stage 2: Mild arthritis

Stage 3: Moderate arthritis

Stage 4: Advanced arthritis

Your vet will diagnose your canine pal, and determine what stage he is in. 

Schedule An Appointment At Our Aurora, CO Pet Clinic

Are you aware or have any concerns about your pet possibly having arthritis? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, your nearby pet clinic, if you have any questions or concerns. As your neighborhood Aurora, CO veterinary clinic, we are here to help!

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