Your dog is going to get older. There’s no question about that. If you take good care of it, it will likely live to a ripe old age. Advances in veterinary medicine and animal care have extended dog lifespan measurably.
As our dogs get older, things that were once easy become a lot harder. Running turns to walking, there’s no more jumping, and your dog moans and groans when it lops down in its dog bed.
When your dog reaches old age, the odds increase that it will suffer from some form of degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis.
What Does Dog Arthritis Look Like?
Not all dogs make noise when they’re in pain. Veterinarians have to rely on a number of tests and techniques to determine if a dog has arthritis. The physical exam will tell them all they need to know to make a diagnosis. Veterinarians look at a dog’s pain response, the presence of crepitus, how it walks, and muscle atrophy to make a determination about whether or not a dog has arthritis.
If your has atrophied muscles and stiff limbs, and it requires help to get up, it’s probably in pain and needs to be checked out by a licensed veterinarian.
If your dog isn’t as active as before, or is more reluctant to move or weaker, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has arthritis. A good veterinarian will have to rule out other causes, like infectious diseases, heart conditions, endocrine conditions, anemia, cancer, and so on.
Dog arthritis can be caused by genetic predispositions, immune-related conditions, physical deformities, or traumatic injuries.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Arthritis?
- Trouble moving
- Spinal issues
- Weakness and tiredness
- Muscle atrophy
- Biting, chewing, and licking
Ways to Treat Dog Arthritis
Feeding your dog a healthy diet throughout life and keeping her at a lean optimal body weight are crucial to maintaining your dog’s health and prevent arthritis later in life.
There are numerous strategies you can utilize to help treat your dog’s arthritis. This list doesn’t cover everything. It does cover some of the most common ones, such as using glucosamine to relieve arthritis in dogs. Talk to many veterinarians if you’re interested in developing real treatment protocols for your dog. You shouldn’t try these treatments out one-by-one on your own at home.
Make it more comfortable around the house
Keep well-padded bedding around the house away from open windows or cold drafts. A ramp to get on and off the bed is a good idea. Putting a gently sloped ramp over steps outside is a smart idea, too.
Hire a certified canine massage therapist to help you learn how to massage your dog at home. It quickly become too expensive if you have to hire out a canine massage therapist every day. Many arthritic dogs really appreciate massages, which help draw blood to atrophying muscles.
Tons of joint supplements are available OTC to treat dog arthritis. These supplements help with cartilage and joint health. These supplements contain several different combinations of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and other substances that help with joint health. Many veterinarians and dog owners have found that some of these products really help. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to be helpful to dogs with arthritis, because of their anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids are included in many dog arthritis diets, but supplements may be necessary.
If your dog has an early, mild form of arthritis, it should be getting some exercise. A super-old dog with terrible arthritis won’t be able to move much, so it’s a good idea to get your mildly arthritic dog started moving early on. If you need help coming up with an exercise program, find a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP). The trick with exercise is to get your dog started early before arthritis sets in too deeply. You will have a healthier dog overall if you can keep him exercising throughout life. Don’t push your dog too hard, though. You want to work with a CCRP to figure out the right form and amount of exercise for your dog at its age and level of disability.
A lot of arthritic dogs can be helped with acupuncture. Look for an alternative veterinary practitioner if you’re not successful with a mainstream treatment program.
Laser therapy is a new treatment that stimulates blood flow to atrophied muscles and tissues, and it has seriously benefited many dogs.
Dog Arthritis Drugs
There are a number of pharmaceutical drugs to consider for dog arthritis. Some drugs commonly used to treat dog arthritis include the following:
Talk to a veterinarian about what drug options you have. There may be new drugs on the market that can really help. Drugs are a good line of defense against dog arthritis.
Even though dog arthritis cannot be cured, the treatments we’ve listed should help your dog have less pain. Consult your veterinarian if you think your dog may have arthritis. You don’t want to diagnose your dog yourself, because he or she will want to rule out other diseases that could be even worse.
There are a number of things you can do to help your dog live a painless, comfortable life into old age. There are a lot more treatments than this list details. Talk to mainstream and alternative veterinarians in your area. They will come up with detailed treatment programs. You don’t want to try these options out willy-nilly one-by-one at home. You’re not going to be able to measure results like a veterinarian will.
No one wants to see his or her beloved dog suffer in preventable and treatable pain. There are many steps you can take to prevent degenerative joint disease and help treat it. Don’t just let old age and its common diseases ravage your dog.