Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative condition that worsens over time in dogs. Although there is no cure for this painful condition, our Union City veterinarians can provide treatments that may help manage symptoms and allow your dog to age with dignity.
What is osteoarthritis in dogs?
The most common type of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative joint disorder in which the cartilage that cushions the joints deteriorates over time. This debilitating condition is estimated to affect one-quarter of all dogs at some point in their lives. It is important to note that osteoarthritis can affect a dog's back legs, front legs, or both.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
The painful joints caused by osteoarthritis can lead to several tell-tail signs. The main osteoarthritis symptoms in dogs that you may notice include:
- Pain, stiffness, and lameness
- Swollen joints
- Refusal to jump, use stairs, or run
- Reluctance to stand
- Lack of enthusiasm for walks or play
- Unusual aggression, whining, or irritability
- Licking at joints
- Slow shuffling walk
Causes of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Although this condition can develop in any breed of dog, it is most often seen in larger breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Rottweilers, and giant breeds.
Although the exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, it is frequently associated with other issues such as trauma, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate injury, or shoulder or knee dislocations.
Obesity also appears to play a role in dogs developing osteoarthritis. Excess weight can put unnecessary stress on the dog's joints leading to pain, and degenerative joint issues over time.
Treatments to Help Manage Pain
Osteoarthritis in dogs is irreversible and incurable. Successful treatment of this condition relieves pain, slows joint degeneration, and allows your dog to age more comfortably and with a high quality of life.
Often several treatments will be used together to achieve pain relief and more comfortable mobility.
Painkillers / Pain Meds
Painkillers such as anti-inflammatories are often prescribed as a long-term treatment for managing your dog’s joint pain and helping to reduce swelling.
Dogs with osteoarthritis require exercise, which may seem counterintuitive. While reducing exercise may be necessary when your dog is first diagnosed with osteoarthritis, keeping your dog mobile will help him maintain fitness, achieve a healthy weight, relieve joint pain, and enjoy a high quality of life.
Exercise will need to be tailored to your dog's overall health and severity of osteoarthritis. Your vet will be sure to recommend the best level of exercise to help relieve your dog's osteoarthritis symptoms.
Weight management will be an important part of your dog's osteoarthritis treatment. Maintaining a healthy weight will help to alleviate some of the pain associated with the condition because excess weight puts additional strain on your dog's joints.
If your dog's exercise level has been reduced, your veterinarian may recommend a calorie-reduced diet or a diet supplemented with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids to alleviate symptoms.
Physical Rehabilitation (Physio for Dogs)
Physiotherapy for dogs is known as physical rehabilitation. It includes a wide range of treatments aimed at relieving pain while also strengthening and improving muscle tone, maintaining range of motion, and increasing overall endurance.
Physiotherapy treatments for dogs with osteoarthritis may include one or more of the following: therapeutic exercises, therapeutic ultrasound, cold laser therapy, regenerative therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, underwater treadmill or pool therapy, and massage, in addition to conventional treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications.
Ask your vet if there is a qualified Canine Physical Rehabilitation practitioner in your area
When severe joint damage occurs, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of your dog's osteoarthritis. Surgery may be necessary to remove bone fragments causing the condition to worsen or to replace the affected joints.
The Prognosis for Dogs with Osteoarthritis
Even if your dog has osteoarthritis, with effective long-term pain management and some extra care, he or she may be able to live a long and happy life. Speak with your veterinarian to learn more about how to manage joint pain in your puppy and how you can help your dog live a long and happy life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.