Canine arthritis, as with human osteoarthritis, is a common joint condition, particularly in senior dogs. Over time, owners witness a slow decline in physical movement which can hinder their pets and lessen their activities. Suddenly, tiny terriers aren’t as feisty as they used to be, opting for longer naps instead of nature walks in the woods. Without a doubt, caring dog owners would do anything to help their beloved beasties. But, can they recognize canine arthritis warning signs and get their furry best some help? What should dog lovers do when their loveable Lab just doesn’t seem to have that spring in his step anymore?
What Is Degenerative Joint Disease And Osteoarthritis?
As the name suggests, degenerative joint disease is a non-infectious degeneration of the joint(s). Similarly, as in humans, canine osteoarthritis can be either primary, a natural degeneration of the bone that accompanies age, or secondary, the more common of the two types, a result of joint disease. In the latter case, pressure on the joint or cartilage surface creates a structural imbalance that is often accompanied by instability. The result of this instability is pain and inflammation from joint wear-and-tear, a condition we know as arthritis.
Common Signs Of Arthritis Discomfort In Dogs
More often than not, the first sign of arthritis pain is reduced mobility. Any physical activity will become more problematic, like rising from a seated position or walking downstairs. Other common tell-tale signs are difficulty moving and slower gait, all known as lameness, which is a consequence of injury or pain. These movement problems are most noticeable in the morning and evening periods and can become a chronic or intermittent occurrence.
What To Do If A Dog Shows Signs Of Arthritis
At the first sign of trouble, owners should bring their dogs to see their regular veterinarian for a thorough physical examination. By doing so, a vet can assess if the signs a dog has been displaying are indeed due to arthritis or if they pertain to another health issue. During the appointment, vets will rely on blood analysis and x-rays, along with physical palpation, to get a sense of what’s going on and determine a diagnosis.
Treatment Options For Canine Arthritis
Luckily, when it comes to canine arthritis, there are many treatment alternatives. In minor cases, weight loss helps increase mobility and decrease pain. At times, during bouts of inflammation, anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed. In moderate cases, a combination of physical, exercise, and alternative therapy is recommended, as well as a steady dose of rehabilitative medicine. In severe cases, veterinarians recommend arthroscopic surgery which is presently the least invasive surgical approach for extreme joint arthritis.
Weight-Reduction: The Key To Arthritis Treatment And Prevention
Regardless of the dog breed, veterinarians agree that the key to reducing pain and discomfort associated with arthritis is weight loss. Prevention, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. The problem is, wear-and-tear on the joints is an entirely natural occurrence that comes with age. However, when a dog is at the optimal weight for their age and breed, there is less impact and pressure on their joints. In the end, weight reduction equals less strain on the body, and in turn, means less load on body joints. Therefore, a lighter body can make all the difference in canine arthritis, discomfort prevention, and pain reduction.