Arthritis is one of the most debilitating yet manageable conditions that canines and other animals can experience. Vetscriptions offers affordable medications to help your dog with the symptoms of arthritis.
Most dogs are susceptible to developing arthritis in later life. Their joints become less supple and their bodies start to age, which can be a painful experience for your pooch. Being aware of the symptoms of arthritis can help keep your dog active, make them comfortable and provide them with a good quality of life in their later years.
What Is Arthritis in Dogs?
Canine arthritis –– sometimes referred to as osteoarthritis –– is a common condition that affects dogs’ joints, causing them pain, discomfort and stiffness. The cartilage within their joints starts to change over time and naturally degrades with age, making the motion around their joints less smooth and causing the bones in the joint to rub against one another. This rubbing causes friction and inflammation, making movement uncomfortable and unpleasant for your dog.
What Causes Canine Arthritis?
Numerous factors can contribute to the onset of arthritis. Being aware of the potential causes can help you notice the signs that your dog may be struggling with the condition. Although it’s more common in older dogs, canine arthritis can affect younger dogs too.
What Breeds Are More Susceptible to Arthritis?
Larger breeds are typically more susceptible to arthritis and decreased mobility than smaller breeds as they carry more weight around with them, putting excess strain on their joints. Although they may be stronger than smaller breeds, they typically have shorter lifespans as they grow –– and age –– more quickly, making them more likely to have health problems earlier in life than smaller dogs.
Labradors, golden retrievers, German shepherds and Rottweilers are more prone to suffer from arthritis at some stage in their lives, so weight management is incredibly important for your large or giant dog. This will reduce the stress on their joints and preserve their cartilage, protecting them from joint problems in later life.
They may also have hereditary defects that predispose them to arthritis or similar conditions. Hip dysplasia, a deformity of the hip joints, is a hereditary condition that is common amongst larger breeds, although it can occur in any dog breed.
Will My Dog Get Arthritis?
Not all dogs will get arthritis, but there are several things you can do to mitigate the chances of your dog suffering from the condition. Puppies must get enough appropriate exercise (but not too much) as under-developed joints can be a result of improper exercise routines. This can lead to joint problems as they get older because their tendons, ligaments and cartilage won’t become fully formed.
If your dog has experienced physical trauma, like a broken leg or ligament damage, this can have a lasting effect on your dog’s cartilage and result in arthritis later in life. If your dog has experienced an injury of this kind, it’s advisable to speak to your vet and find out what medications or supplements might help manage poor joint health.
Sometimes infections can adversely affect your dog’s mobility, as some infections, like Staphylococcus or a “Staph infection” can destroy cartilage and joint tissue, causing problems for your dog.
What Are The Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs?
There are a few things to look out for if you suspect your dog has arthritis. Symptoms of canine arthritis include:
- Stiff joints
- Trouble sitting or lying down and getting back up
- Muscle atrophy (muscle wastage)
- Increasingly sedentary behaviour (tiredness or laziness)
- Irritability or not wanting to be touched
- Licking sensitive areas
All of these symptoms are likely to be worse after exercise or when your dog first wakes up. Their joints can become stiff if they’ve been resting for extended periods and may become painful after running or walking. Take note of any of these symptoms and be mindful of what activities you do with your dog if they’re showing signs of discomfort.
What Can You Do about Canine Arthritis?
As a progressive condition, you should take action as soon as you suspect your dog is struggling. Book an appointment with your vet so they can assess your dog’s health and give you professional advice on how to manage your dog’s symptoms.
Will Arthritis Ever Get Better?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. Although the condition will never go away entirely, the symptoms can easily be managed with medications and small changes to your dog’s lifestyle and routine that will provide your dog with a good quality of life.
How to Make Dogs with Arthritis Comfortable at Home
The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to help your dog be more comfortable at home if they’re struggling with their mobility:
Manage their weight
Ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise and that they’re being fed the right amount of healthy, nutritious food. Gentle exercise in the form of short walks can help your dog stay active and keep their joints supple. Let them take their time and don’t force your dog to walk long distances or go too quickly if they’re struggling.
Get them a good dog bed
Having a soft and supportive place to sleep can help your dog feel more comfortable when they want to rest, something older dogs typically need a lot of. They’ll be able to have better quality sleep when they’re comfy, meaning they’ll be more full of life after their rest and more interested in going on walks, playing or having some fuss. The right bed will be insulating to keep your dog warm, as well as providing them with optimum comfort. If their joints get cold, this can make their symptoms worse.
Take precautions with flooring
Tiled or laminate floors can increase the chances of your dog slipping or falling due to a lack of grip. This can put an unnecessary strain on their bodies as they can struggle to balance on slippery surfaces. Put down some soft rugs or mats so your dog can navigate their home comfortably and safely — avoid bringing them into areas where these surfaces can’t be covered.
Don’t let them jump up
If, like many dog owners, your pooch is allowed onto your sofa or your bed, they might struggle to get to where they want to be if their joints are aching. Specifically designed dog ramps will enable them to climb up to their desired spots without putting stress on their joints by leaping into position. If you can take stairs out of the equation and let them sleep on the ground floor, this will help reduce the strain on their bodies.
Manage their mood
Managing your dog’s excitement when visitors arrive at your home –– or the postman makes their deliveries –– can also help reduce the strain on your dog’s body. Some dogs are duty-bound to alert their owners when new people arrive on their territory, which can cause excitement or even anxiety. When your dog is in this heightened state, they may become more animated and forget their physical limitations, causing further stress and pain on their joints. Work with your dog to help them manage their stress or excitement or consider using mood-altering solutions, like collars or tablets.
Looking after Your Dog When They Have Arthritis
It can be upsetting to see your dog struggle with physical ailments such as canine arthritis. It’s important to take every precaution necessary to ensure your dog stays happy and healthy throughout their lives. If they are showing symptoms of joint pain, book an appointment with your vet. They’ll assess your dog and provide you with advice on how to manage their symptoms and recommend medications that could help them retain their quality of life. Remember, although your dog’s body may not be as young as they used to be, it’s no reason to give up on them. Help them live the life they deserve and keep them happy and comfortable if they start to struggle.