Doggies don’t want you to know it but sometimes they hurt. The pain of arthritis sneaks up on one of five adult dogs in the U.S. and it’s one of the most common sources of chronic pains that veterinarians treat. Since dogs often try to hide the pain, how do you know if your dog’s joints ache? Usually there are signs and they may be obvious or subtle. Whether its stiffness or limping, favoring a limb, or general reluctance to jump, climb stairs or stand for a long periods of time. Your dog gives it away. You may even notice her shy away from activity and play. That’s when you know it’s time to take her to the vet.
Arthritis is a drag for pups and people alike. The most common type for dogs is osteoarthritis causing the deterioration of cartilage that cushions the joints. Over time, it wears down the bones in the joint often resulting in pain with movement. And also just like with people, arthritis strikes for many different reasons. Traumatic joint injuries, repetitive activity, genetics and simply changes that come with aging can all influence if and how a dog experiences the disease. Here’s a look at the most common factors contributing to canine arthritis.
Age. All dogs have a 65% likelihood of developing arthritis between the ages of seven and eleven years of age. Some get arthritis earlier, but eventually most dogs experience an onset of the disease during their lifetime. Fortunately, we can plan ahead to help our dogs avoid the painful realities of old age and this chronic disease, or at the least ease the pain of its symptoms.
Nutrition and Exercise. It’s hard to exaggerate the benefits of a balanced diet and regular exercise for dogs. By feeding your pup the correct amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins and other key nutrients, you pay in to his general health. This, coupled with weight maintenance and the appropriate daily activity for his breed and age is the best possible way to prevent arthritis and other bone and muscle disorders later in life.
Breeding. We’ve heard it before, “You can’t pick your relatives.” This holds true for doggies too. Dogs whose parents had arthritis are likely to get the disease as well. So the same bloodlines that graced her with a glossy coat can also cause arthritis too.
Injuries & Health Problems. Keeping your regularly scheduled vet appointments is especially helpful in preventing arthritis. Untreated injuries, diseases and developmental abnormalities can develop into joint disorders if not properly treated. Your vet will make sure your dog grows and heals correctly to avoid preventable arthritis.
Treatment. The earlier you start treating arthritis, the better you’ll be able to manage the condition over time. That’s why it’s so important that you take your dog to the vet for an exam when you notice symptoms lasting more two weeks. Your vet may recommend exercises, natural therapies such as Omega fatty acids and glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates, and in some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) to manage the pain and severity of the case.
One of the tough parts of loving and caring for your dog is choosing treatments to manage pain. Whether you choose prescription medications, or seek out natural remedies to avoid certain side effects, your vet is your best source to help you explore the right fit for your best friend’s quality of life.
Tune in to Woof Report next week for tips about treatments and products to boost arthritis relief and improve your dog’s well-being.
More about canine arthritis from the Arthritis Foundation
Thank you to our Woof Report Friend Mickey for the photo.