Arthritis in dogs is a debilitating condition affecting approximately 20% of all adult dogs. Arthritis generally develops when a dog is older but it can also affect younger dogs. In order to provide a better quality of life for a dog with arthritis a dog owner needs to understand arthritis, its symptoms, and what treatments are available for an affected dog.
Arthritis is a general term that is used to describe several different diseases that basically affect a dog’s joints in similar ways. A simple way to describe and to understand arthritis in a dog is that the disease causes painful inflammation of the dog’s joints. Because arthritis occurs in about one in five adult dogs, it is one of the most common diseases treated by veterinarians.
Since arthritis itself is more of a general condition rather than one specific disease, many other diseases like hip dysplasia, OCD, and degenerative joint disease are linked to it. A dog with arthritis will usually develop hip dysplasia or degenerative joint disease as the arthritis progresses.
Arthritis associated with degenerative joint disease is caused by repetitive pressure on a dog’s bones and is common to aging dogs. This type of arthritis can occur in younger dogs if they are genetically predisposed to the affliction. However, it’s more common in older dogs because their joints become lax after many years of use. Because this type of arthritis is normally age-related, the treatment options are limited to alleviating the symptoms.
In some cases, the arthritis is associated with an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly begins attacking the dog’s muscles and bones, thereby reducing the functioning of the joints and causing inflammation and irritation. There often is a genetic predisposition toward this type of arthritis in certain breeds. Whether or not an affected dog is among those breeds is not important; it is imperative that a veterinarian determine why the dog’s immune system is malfunctioning and start the appropriate treatment as soon as the malady is diagnosed.
Signs and symptoms of arthritis in a dog will usually manifest over time, unless an autoimmune disease is the cause. Also, these signs or symptoms are often mistaken for other disorders.
- The following symptoms may indicate arthritis in a dog
* Obvious favoring of one leg over the other
* Avoiding the use of stairs
* A painful appearance when walking
* A progressive unwillingness to exercise, play, or go for the usual walk
* Urinating or defecating inside the house after being housebroken for many years.
A veterinarian will decide on treatment options after conducting several tests on the dog to try to determine what factors are contributing to the disorder. The tests will include x-rays, blood work and occasionally an ultrasound.
Dietary restrictions are often an integral part of any treatment for arthritis, since a reduction in weight helps alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis in overweight dogs. A regular, easygoing exercise routine will be recommended to prevent too much pressure being placed on the dog’s weakening joints.
Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications like Rimadyl are sometimes used to help reduce inflammation in the dog’s joints. Rimadyl is a pain killer that veterinarians sometimes prescribe for dogs suffering from arthritis.
There are many pros and cons about giving a dog Rimadyl for arthritis pain. As a responsible pet owner, it would be a very good idea to research this drug as thoroughly as you can before giving your dog the medication.
A much safer treatment, and one that many owners and vets agree is more effective, is to start an arthritic dog on a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, an all-natural formula developed by a Naturopathic Doctor to heal his own beloved dog who suffered from arthritis and hip dysplasia. This proven formula has been giving relief from pain and stiffness to all breeds and ages of dogs for over 20 years with remarkable results.
Arthritis in dogs can have many causes and the symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed as being another condition or ailment of an affected dog. The treatments for arthritis are limited, and many dog owners prefer the safety of a supplement like Winston’s Joint System rather than the sometimes questionable efficacy of a drug like Rimadyl.