Arthritis in dogs is a very common condition that many pet owners are concerned about. In fact, arthritis affects one in every five adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common sources of chronic pain that veterinarians treat. Arthritis is a condition where one or more joints become swollen or inflamed, typically the hips, elbows, knees and neck. It is one of the oldest known diseases, affecting people and pets alike. While arthritis normally affects older pets, and worsens with age, dogs of any age can have it.
There are two types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive and uncommon disease where the immune system attacks healthy joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by aging, injury or auto-immune diseases.
The second type, osteoarthritis, is much more common. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage around a joint gets damaged, so new bone forms around the joint. This has no cartilage protecting it, and causes stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis is caused by aging; injury; conformational problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, ligament rupture and joint infection; and obesity.
Symptoms of arthritis include painful, stiff or swollen joints; lameness exhibited by such behaviour as your pet taking longer to get to its feet or being unable to jump or climb; loss of appetite; and depression. If you see these signs in your pet, let us know so we can determine if arthritis is involved.
In order to properly diagnose your pet with arthritis, we will review your pet’s medical history and conduct a physical exam by flexing the joints and listening for abnormal joint sounds, as well as looking for swelling or heat in your dog’s limbs. Depending on what we find, we might perform a blood test to measure the total amount of red and white blood cells in the body; x-rays of the affected areas to determine the type of arthritis; or take a sample of joint fluid to see if there are any abnormalities.
The course of treatment depends mainly on what is causing the disease. For infections, antibiotics might be prescribed and for inflammation, anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed. Dietary supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin stimulate new cartilage growth in the joints and can alleviate some discomfort.
Our new laser therapy is an excellent tool in battling arthritis in dogs. It reduces inflammation, improves cell regeneration and alleviates discomfort. Laser therapy for pets is safe, natural and non-invasive. Learn more about this new therapy on our laser therapy page and by watching this video.
Many cases of arthritis in dogs involve obese pets with the extra weight causing extra strain on the joints and resulting pain. A simple change in diet and veterinarian-developed exercise routine will alleviate the symptoms and help your pet lead a longer, pain free life. In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, helping your dog stay fit to fend off arthritis symptoms can help your health and mental well-being as well. Note: too much exercise for an arthritic dog can cause severe pain; however, too little exercise will make your dog’s joints even stiffer.
While there is no cure for arthritis, we can provide you with treatment options so your pet can live a comfortable life. For the best outcome, pay attention to your pet’s movements to catch arthritis early and make sure they don’t gain unnecessary weight. Let us know if you are concerned your pet might be arthritic so we can help you manage the condition effectively.