Arthritis in Dogs.
Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease which can not only affect humans, but our four legged friends too. This Holidays 4 Dogs article will look at the signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs and discuss ways of treating and managing an arthritic pet.
Arthritis affects the joints in the body and causes pain which is generally associated with wear and tear of cartilage lining the joints. It can cause variable pain and lack of mobility in dogs of all ages. Indeed, arthritis is sometimes overlooked in dogs, with stiffness being attributed to natural ageing. However, younger dogs can be affected too; perhaps due to an inherited condition, or historic injury. It is a fairly common problem in dogs, but diagnosis can be difficult.
For a conclusive analysis your dog will need to be X-rayed, under sedation. If it is confirmed your dog has arthritis your dog can be prescribed medication to control pain but the joints will never repair.
It is very important to keep and eye on your dog for arthritic symptoms, especially if your dog is getting older. Thankfully, there are number of things can you do at home to help manage the symptoms.
Signs to watch for;
- Arthritic dogs will commonly have difficulty getting up or lying down.
- You may notice your dog favouring limbs.
- Your dog may sleep more and generally have less interest in moving around.
- May be reluctant to jump – (into the car perhaps) – or, to go up and down stairs.
- He may generally seem less alert and reluctant to play, or walk.
Things you can do at home;
One of the most important things you can do aside from medication is to provide a comfy bed for your dog to sleep on which supports his joints. You can purchase orthopaedic mattresses which consist of memory foam and are ideal for the arthritic dog. Always make sure your dog is kept warm and not housed in a kennel.
Problems with joints can be exacerbated by excess weight so it is crucial to ensure your dog is not overweight or fed fatty foods. Being leaner will put less stress on the joints.
Although your dog may be reluctant to do as much exercise as he once did, it is important to maintain a gentle routine of exercise to avoid joints stiffening and to aid with mobility. Short walks several times a day, are better than a long trek. Avoid too much walking on hard surfaces and a warm coat in winter will help to keep muscles and joints warm.
Swimming is an excellent way to keep joints supple. However, it is better to take the dog to a proper hydrotherapy pool rather than allow him to swim in lakes or rivers, unless it is safe and during warm weather. Don’t allow an arthritic dog to swim in cold water, during the colder months. A canine hydrotherapy pool means your dog can swim in warm conditions, supervised by qualified staff, who will implement specific exercises for your dog.
Omega 3, essential fatty acids (found in tuna, mackerel, pilchards and salmon) can be really beneficial to the arthritic dog. Studies have shown that dogs fed a diet high in EFA’s showed improved mobility and performance. However, never just use sunflower, or olive oil! Excess Omega 6 can have the opposite effect as it is pro-flammatory. Ask your vet for advice on EFA’s. If you feed tinned fish make sure it is in brine or water, not oil. Other natural remedies include turmeric and comfrey.
This can be very beneficial for the arthritic dog and there are many qualified canine massage therapists U.K. wide. There are also many courses and workshops available which teach owners the basics of canine massage at home and could be very useful for owners of arthritic dogs.
If your dog seems to be in acute pain you will need to consult your vet for a proper diagnoses and prescription for suitable pain relief. With the correct care, management and regular assessment, dogs with arthritis can live happy and pain free lives.