Arthritis is a very common condition in humans and dogs alike. It typically affects dogs in their senior years and certain breeds are also more susceptible than others. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between the bones to break down quicker and the rubbing of the bones causes inflammation and pain. Any of the joints in the body can be affected by arthritis, but it is most common in the shoulders, elbows, knees or hips.
Causes of Arthritis
Aside from old age, there are a range of factors that can cause osteoarthritis to develop in your dog :
- Overweight dogs place extra strain on their joints which increases their risk of developing osteoarthritis
- As mentioned above, certain breeds are more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis. Larger breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are among the breeds that are more prone to developing osteoarthritis
- Genetics also plays a part in whether or not a dog will develop arthritis
- If a dog sustains an injury, they can also be more prone to developing arthritis in the affected joint/s. This includes repetitive stress injuries that are common in dogs that participate in athletic activities such as flyball, dock diving or agility courses, or after injuries such as fractures or ligament tears
- Dogs that have joint deformities such as hip, knee or elbow dysplasia are also more prone to developing osteoarthritis
Symptoms of Arthritis
Early-stage osteoarthritis can be difficult to diagnose and your dog may not show any symptoms until the joint becomes extremely painful. It is therefore important to keep up with regular vet visits, especially for dogs that are middle-aged to senior and for breeds that are more prone to developing arthritis. The following symptoms are commonly seen in dogs that are affected by osteoarthritis:
- Difficulty getting up after laying down, seeming stiff
- Slow to walk, reluctance to run, jump or play – general lethargy
- Weight gain
- Changes in behaviour – biting or appearing to be in pain when touched
- Trouble crouching to urinate or defecate – may have accidents in the house
- Licking or growling at the affected joints
If you suspect your dog has arthritis, it is important to have them evaluated by a veterinarian who will perform a full examination in order to make the correct diagnosis. Your vet may order x-rays or other imaging to examine the degree of damage to the affected joints and to help them formulate a treatment plan.
Weight and Diet Management
If your dog is overweight and affected by arthritis, putting them on a diet is the best thing you can do to help to reduce the pressure on their joints thereby alleviating some of their pain and discomfort.
Increasing your dogs level of activity is also helpful and will ensure their joints remain mobile and muscles stay strong.
Changes in the Home
There are also a few adjustments you can make around your home to make life a little easier for your arthritic dog. Providing them with a soft, yet supportive bed provides them with somewhere comfortable to rest their weary joints. There are even specially designed orthopaedic dog beds made from memory foam that are extra supportive and comfortable. If your arthritic dog is a little unsteady on their feet, placing rugs or carpets on slippery floors and stairs can prevent them from sliding around. Your dog may also find a ramp or set of steps helpful when they want to climb up onto your couch or bed.
If your dog’s arthritis is causing them considerable pain, your veterinarian may prescribe injections or medications that will help alleviate some of your dogs’ pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a common medication prescribed to dogs with arthritis as it helps to relieve inflammation and pain. PetScripts offer discounted pet prescriptions dispensed by Australian pharmacists delivered right to your door.
Non-prescription medications often contain natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green-lipped mussel, glucosamine and chondroitin. Our most popular joint supplements are:
- Joint Guard
- PAW OsteoCare and PAW OsteoSupport
- Rose Hip Vital
- Sasha's Blend Powder or Sasha's Flexi Bites
View all muscle and joint products for dogs here