One of the most common conditions that vets face in the clinic is older dogs with arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive condition that occurs over time and causes joints to be sore and stiff as a result of degeneration of cartilage. Typically, OA is diagnosed by your vet taking x-rays of the afflicted area and your pet will also undergo a physical examination.
Arthritis is well known to be a painful condition in people, and the same is true for our canine companions. The good news is there are many different treatment options to help fight this debilitating condition.
Dogs with osteoarthritis often show some or all of the following symptoms:
- Stiffness on rising after resting
- Slowing down on walks
- Difficulty with steps or on slippery floors
- Muscle wastage, often most easily noticed on the back legs
- Limping/lameness on one or more legs
Please try not worry too much if your pet is diagnosed with OA, there are many treatment options available that will really help with the ongoing pain and inflammation. Your pet can still have an excellent quality of life in their older years.
There are several things we can use for OA and we often use a combination, called a multi-modal approach:
Pain relief and anti-inflammatory treatment
One of the most important aspects of OA treatment involves managing your pet’s pain. There are lots of tablets, liquids and injections which can be prescribed depending on your pets needs and other health concerns to help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. These can be given intermittently as needed or ongoing; depending on how severe the arthritis is and how affected an individual animal is.
Joint supplements/ specialised diets
There are many canine formulated supplements which are proven to help reduce joint inflammation. Joint supplements such as Yumove, Seraquin and Stride Plus contain high levels of omega 3s, chondroitin and glucosamine which are well studied and known to promote a healthy joint structure. These treatments are not medications and so are very safe to use and can help over time to maintain a healthier joint. Alternatively, food containing these added components can be used and prescribed by your vet. See our website shop for more arthritic pet medication (some products require prescription) and supplements in our website shop.
There are many options for alternative therapy for canine arthritis. Hydrotherapy centres provide rehabilitation with experts to help build up lost muscle structure and to help range of motion of joints. Acupuncture is regularly practiced for arthritis with many seeing an improvement in their dog’s comfort levels and ease of getting around. Please always consult your vet for recommendations of trained professionals.
Dogs with osteoarthritis can often struggle with slippery surfaces such as on wooden/tiled floors. One great way to help this is to provide rugs or anti-slip tape in the areas of the house that they spend most of their time. If they struggle with grip out on walks then grip boots can be purchased online. Steps can also pose a challenge and so ramps can be inexpensively made from sanded pieces of wood or alternatively purchased online.
Maintaining a lean body weight is a very important aspect of helping an arthritic dog. The more extra weight carried, the more force exerted on the joints with each step. It can be difficult to exercise an arthritic dog more if they’re struggling and so it is often very important to maintain the correct calorie intake to prevent further weight gain.
OA can be a devastating disease for the older dog, however with good management and individual tailoring of treatment many dogs can go on to have many comfortable and energetic years.
If you have noticed any symptoms of OA we would first recommend that you consult with your vet to get a diagnosis and the best treatment plan for your pet.