Advancement in science, veterinary medicine and nutrition has contributed to the growth and development of pets. It has now been recently noticed that the lives of these pets are becoming long enough in good health and vitality, as long as they are getting the necessary nutrition in a thriving environment. One of such pets are dogs and everything that has to do with their health. In this piece, you will be taken through a comprehensive guide to arthritis in dogs and how to take care of them. But first, let’s define what arthritis is.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. It is a general word used when joints have certain abnormalities, and the cartilage between them continuously wears off. Cartilages are cushions that protect these joints during motion. Usually, it affects dogs—an average of one in every five experiences this condition at least once in their lifespan. Mostly, arthritis causes pain and discomfort, which may lead to difficulty moving and even lead to lameness should it not be appropriately paid attention to and treated.
Causes of Arthritis in Dogs
Research has shown that the very basic cause of arthritis occurs due to damages to the joints. This damage will then cause instability to the joint. A major injury common to dogs is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) rupture which is the tearing away of a crucial ligament in the dog’s knee joint.
It may lead to either partial or complete joint instability. It could also cause pain, distress and lameness. Similarly, other trauma and injuries—such as fractures—may equally end up leading to arthritis.
Meanwhile, it is quite important to note that joint abnormalities usually occur in some dogs from birth. However, it could sometimes occur later in the dog’s development stages and keep growing as time evolves.
Again, infections that are left untreated in dogs could also cause arthritis. Some autoimmune disorders called “lupus” and “rheumatoid” can also lead to it. In just the same measure, cartilage abnormalities such as Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) cause cartilage thickening and increase exposure to injuries, leading to arthritis.
Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs
When looking for conditions to notice arthritis symptoms in your dog, you don’t need to search too far. Suppose your dog has the habit of running around the room before but has suddenly stopped doing that. Or peradventure you used to take it on some long morning walks before, and it’s now unwilling anymore. It may even be that it’s walking with difficulty, which has changed its liveliness.
On most occasions, arthritis affects dogs in hips, elbows, knees, wrists, ankles, spine and shoulders. Should your dog be walking awkwardly, there’s enough possibility that it’s arthritis. The important symptoms to look out for in dogs are:
- Kind of breed: You should be conversant with the kinds of dog breed you have. Big dogs such as the Labradors and Shepherds have more vulnerability to have arthritis at a very young age. Meanwhile, that doesn’t mean small and medium-sized dogs too cannot have it. They obviously can, but it is only a little uncommon.
- Age: In fact, a lot of people attribute arthritis in dogs to age. According to research, if 80 percent of dogs can show signs of arthritis at the age of 8, some 20 per cent would do so as early as the age of 1.
- Health history: You also need to consider perhaps your dog has previously had joint problems in the past. This might be hip dysplasia, knee or even ligament injuries. You should also note if there has been a prior accident or even a surgery carried out because all of these health situations might lead to arthritis in your dog.
- Weight: Normally, the higher the weight, the more the stress and pressure exerted on joints. It would be best if you tried to ensure your dog keeps fit and maintains an optimal weight to avoid strains on the joints.
Other symptoms that are common to dogs with arthritis include:
- Stiffness or difficulty in movement.
- Lack of interest in exercises.
- Muscle atrophy.
- The physical appearance of pain.
- Swelling of joints.
Diagnosis/How to Identify
To diagnose arthritis in your dog, a veterinarian has to run a comprehensive test and physical examinations on it. X-Ray scans have to be taken as well as a couple of blood and laboratory tests. These would make diagnosis easy and reveal if there is an underlying problem with the dog.
Meanwhile, there are many factors to consider before prescribing any proper treatment for arthritis post-diagnosis. First, it’s important to know that arthritis is incurable. However, a lot of quality can be added to your dog when you take to a veterinarian’s prescribed medications and treatment styles.
After diagnosis, it’s now safe to talk about how to treat arthritis in dogs.
How to Treat Arthritis in Dogs
If your dog has arthritis, there are lots of methods that you can adopt to improve its health. To begin with, adding supplements to your dog’s diet is strongly recommended.
Also, if you made your dog do regular exercise as it maintains a proper weight management plan. If done appropriately, arthritis would either be delayed or prevented from happening.
Other important treatment methods that can be adopted include:
This is usually known as underwater therapy. Your dog is allowed to swim as a low impact activity to help manage and maintain weight.
With a proper meal plan, and regular exercising, your dog will soon overcome arthritis problems.
Heat or Ice application
You can apply heat or ice directly on the surface of the affected area. You can achieve this through the use of gel and ice packs on your dog.
This is regarded as a complementary therapy that usually reduces pains and inflammation of the joint.
Cost of Treatment of Arthritis in Dogs
The cost of treating arthritis in dogs varies according to their breed. Normally, if you are a dog owner and would like to know the amount you would be required to part ways with to get your dog treated, you are best advised to contact your local veterinarian.
However, an analysis of research conducted at The Society of Practicing Veterinary Surgeons maintains that “the cost of maintenance and monitoring of condition ranges according to dog weight and the number of days spent.” For instance, an average adult golden retriever is estimated to have weighed 30kg approx. And its cost of treatment for arthritis could be up to $12.48 per day—an average of $4,160 per annum.
Arthritis Treatment in Dogs
As earlier said in this piece, there are numerous ways to treat arthritis in dogs. However, we would be more specific and narrow them into just three, namely:
With a focus on a complete hip replacement or partial correction, you can make your dog undergo surgery in arthrodesis. Normally, surgical treatments are most appropriate in situations and at times where normal physical therapy fails to work. It is usually conducted by a Surgeon veterinarian whose goals in the treatment process is to subdue pains, maintain functions, and either prevent or remove to forestall consequent degeneration.
In veterinary surgery, THR and femoral head and neck excision are the basic treatments for arthritis of the coxofemoral joints. In contrast, other joints are being treated by either arthrodesis or excision arthroplasty.
While a few people may consider opting for surgery to correct arthritis in their dogs, braces are also an effective method of treating the medical problem. Far beyond the use of drug prescriptions, mobility aids such as braces can assist in restoring a dog’s confidence and relieving it of pains and inflammation of the joints. The use of braces helps your dog maintain enhanced stability, reduce swelling, and pressure on the affected area.
When you use the therapy option to treat your arthritis dog, it will get well soon. A physical therapist veterinarian with an appropriate license with clinical experience will assist your dog in achieving mobility and restoring affected joints, maintain fitness and health away from arthritis.
Exercises for Arthritis in Dogs
If your dog has arthritis, it is pertinent that you restrict it from carrying out intense activities. Naturally, dogs are active and would like to play. But you need to help it perform just moderate exercises as might have been instructed by your veterinarian.
Every dog with arthritis or musculoskeletal problems requires to decrease the amount of stress and pressure they exert on their joints to prevent damages.
It’s not advisable for a dog suffering from arthritis to engage in activities that are too tasking, such as ball fetching. This is because ball fetching will directly affect its joints as the acceleration, twists and turns, jumps, and sharp halts could be disastrous to its muscles and cartilage.
If your dog has arthritis, the following are the exercises and activities to avoid:
- Ball fetching
- High impact jumps
However, the exercises that your dog can indulge in include:
- Underwater treadmill
- Soft dancing
- Go on-leash walks.
Natural Remedies for Arthritis
Besides the several conventional treatment methods to cure arthritis in dogs, other natural remedies have proven to work better and are very effective. They include:
This is a branch of ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that humans and animals have used for many years. The method it takes to work is by utilizing the body’s ability to heal by itself. If administered to a dog with arthritis, acupuncture would ensure the dog’s health and balance are established.
Usually, it is administered by TCM practitioners who are registered health professionals and veterinarians, as it is usually a stand-alone course.
It’s just as exact as you have thought. When you massage your dog, its joint muscles would naturally get relaxed. With massage, you will quickly know the sore and swollen areas for any further treatment you wish to introduce.
Chiropractic care is done by a licensed veterinary chiropractor. They are saddled with the responsibility of putting back joints that are out of alignment.
In hydrotherapy, the natural properties of water are harnessed to cure a dog’s joint injury. Stiff joints are loosened after the dog has been submerged into a weightless pool.
There are a lot of various supplements that are naturally available to treat arthritis. Your dog would recover real fast if admitted into its diet to solve issues of joint pains and injuries. Supplements that are high in consideration include berry, turmeric, basil and oregano. Consult your veterinarian to know the appropriate dosage to give your dog for optimal results.
Other natural remedies for the treatment of arthritis include:
You have to ensure the weight of your dog does not exceed the norm. This is because weight control is a major part of its healing. When overweight, there will be more pressure on the joints, which might cause arthritis when your dog walks or manages to run.
Heat or Ice application
You can apply heat or ice directly on the surface of the affected area. You can get this through the use of gel and ice packs on your dog.
Arthritis Prevention in Dogs
As the popular saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are a few ways to prevent the occurrence of arthritis in dogs:
Administer diets rich in nutrients early for your dog:
When your dog feeds on a diet that is rich in nutrients and supplements, it helps its joints and skeletons steadily develop.
Take your dog on regular visits to the veterinarian:
Ensure to regularly take your dog to the veterinarian for checkups and guidance. This would no doubt make it easy for early diagnosis and treatment.
Exercise your dog regularly:
Dogs are naturally active. Therefore, they need to be exercised regularly. Meanwhile, you must let your dog exercise; you should equally ensure it is the correct kind of exercise. For instance, there should not be too much running on hard impact surfaces for young dogs.
Maintain your dog’s weight
Excessive dog weight will put stress on its joints. It would help keep your dog in a healthy condition by ensuring to trim down its weight. This would give it an ideal body condition streamlined to give good shape and body strength.
As it has been established that arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, it is important to note our dogs’ condition. We should be conversant with the symptoms and know what exact steps to take in similar situations. We should equally be aware of the cost of treating arthritis in dogs, especially as it varies according to their breeds. If your dog has arthritis, there are lots of methods that you can adopt to improve its health. To begin with, adding supplements to its diet is strongly recommended. Also, if you made your dog do regular exercise as it maintains a proper weight management plan.
Lastly, you should know the three important treatment methods, including braces and physical therapy. However, if these two don’t work, surgery would be the most logical treatment for your dog. But it would help if you visited a professional veterinarian for advice on how to go about that.