What are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis is a painful, progressive, usually permanent joint disease that unfortunately is common in dogs. We usually see this in older dogs, but it can also strike their younger counterparts. The clinical signs of arthritis appear gradually and slowly worsen over time. Arthritic dogs experience varying degrees of stiffness, soreness, lameness and pain in one or more joints. You may notice your pet’s reluctance to climb stairs or jump up on the couch or bed. They’re usually worse in the mornings or after waking from a nap. Cold, damp weather does not help either. Most dogs become more painful as time passes. In some cases, this condition can become debilitating and crippling. Signs your dog may be suffering from arthritis, include but are not limited to: reluctance to walk long distances, stiffness, difficulty climbing stairs, jumping in/out of car or on/off bed, slow to rise from rest, licking joints, abnormal gait, limping, acting withdrawn and soreness when touched.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease that may affect any joint but is commonly found in a pet’s hip, elbow, shoulder, stifle (knee), carpus (wrist), hock (ankle) or along the spine. It occurs when cartilage in the joint is damaged, either following a traumatic event or with constant wear and tear that increases in athletic dogs, obese dogs or when their joint is congenitally abnormal. Cartilage decreases joint stress by reducing the impact on the ends of the bones in joints, like a “jello” shock absorber. When cartilage is damaged, it causes inflammatory changes within the joint, eventually leading to the destruction of the cartilage and subsequent damage to the underlying bone. Cartilage contains no nerves, so if your pet is showing signs of pain, the damage and changes in underlying bone have already begun.
What are some treatment options for arthritis in dogs?
There are many treatment options for arthritic pets depending on the severity of their condition. If your dog is overweight or obese, the first thing we would recommend would be to put your pet on a weight loss plan. We can also add some Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM chews, tablets or liquid to help relieve some of their symptoms. There are also Cartrophen injections (anti-inflammatory) we can administer once a week for 4 weeks, then once monthly. We can also refer you to a rehab vet who can help with laser therapy, acupuncture and massage. Swimming is another low impact exercise that can help soothe their arthritic joints. For severe cases, we can also prescribe some medications to help relieve pain. Ask your veterinarian for advice on what your pet may need to help him/her feel more comfortable.
Can I give my dog aspirin?
Yes you can, if your veterinarian has okayed it. Always call your veterinarian for advice on giving your pet human medications, as some can be dangerous to give your pet and can cause adverse side effects or worse.