Understanding Arthritis in Dogs: A Guide for Pet Parents

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min | Last Updated: June 20th, 2024

Arthritis, often referred to as old age arthritis or osteoarthritis, is a common condition affecting both humans and our beloved canine friends. While it shares similarities with the human form of the disease, it manifests slightly differently in dogs. At Hope Island Veterinary Surgery, we’re committed to helping you understand and manage arthritis in dogs to ensure they keep living happily and comfortably.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

Arthritis in dogs primarily results from the wear and tear and instability in their joints over time. However, other factors such as injury, genetic predisposition, infection, immune diseases, and even cancer or cooler temperatures can contribute to its progression. This condition can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly impacts the hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows.

Recognising the Signs of Arthritis

Our dogs are experts at masking signs of pain, but there are several indicators that may suggest your dog is suffering from arthritis:

  • Reluctance to engage in activities like walking, climbing stairs, or playing
  • Limping or lameness, especially after rest or activity
  • Lagging behind on walks or struggling to keep up
  • Difficulty getting up or down, accompanied by stiffness or pain
  • Vocalisation or yelping when touched
  • Changes in behavior, such as increased aggression or irritability
  • Excessive licking or chewing at joints

These signs become more pronounced as arthritis progresses and can significantly impact your dog’s quality of life.

Managing Arthritis: Four Key Approaches

While arthritis in dogs cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed to alleviate pain and discomfort. At Hope Island Veterinary Surgery, we focus on arthritis management, addressing four key areas:

  1. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for dogs with arthritis. Excess weight puts added strain on joints, exacerbating inflammation and discomfort. Our clinic offers a free weight loss clinic to help you develop a tailored weight management plan for your dog.
  2. Exercise Management: Controlled exercise is essential for keeping joints mobile and muscles strong. We recommend activities like leash walking and swimming, while cautioning against high-impact activities that could further damage joints. Our team can provide guidance on suitable exercise routines for your dog’s condition.
  3. Home Comforts and Environment Changes: Simple adjustments at home can make a big difference for arthritic dogs. Providing a warm, comfortable sleeping area away from drafts, ample bedding to cushion sore joints, and ramps to navigate stairs or cars can enhance your dog’s comfort and mobility.
  4. Veterinary Treatments: Various veterinary treatments are available to manage arthritis in dogs, including:
  • Disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (e.g., Pentosan polysulfate): These medications help stabilize joint membranes, promote cartilage repair, and improve joint lubrication.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Prescribed by our veterinarians, NSAIDs reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Regular monitoring is essential to ensure your dog’s safety.
  • Nutraceuticals and prescription diets: Supplements containing ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and fish oils can support joint health and reduce inflammation over time.
  • Physical therapy: Our clinic offers tailored physical therapy programs to improve strength, mobility, and pain relief in arthritic dogs.

Seeking Help for Your Arthritic Dog

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis or if you’ve noticed any of the signs mentioned above, we encourage you to reach out to our healthcare team. A thorough clinical examination, including radiographs, can help us accurately diagnose your dog’s condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to improve their quality of life.

At Hope Island Veterinary Surgery, we’re dedicated to supporting you and your dogs every step of the way. Together, we can ensure your dog enjoys a happy, comfortable life, free from the limitations of arthritis.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please get in touch with us today.

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