Twenty percent of dogs suffer from arthritis and this number doubles in dogs over 7 years of age. It’s important to know the symptoms of arthritis in dogs and the treatment options that are available.
The term arthritis means inflammation of the joint. Arthritis in dogs is usually caused by some other predisposing factor, including obesity, hip dysplasia, cruciate rupture, traumatic injury and joint infection.
Arthritis is a progressive disease that generally worsens with age. Therefore, treating these predisposing factors as soon as possible will decrease the severity of arthritis in dogs.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs include
- Reluctance to move
- Difficulty getting up from a laying down position
- Difficulty going up and down stairs
- Trouble jumping up on furniture or into a vehicle
- Tiring more easily
- Exercise intolerance
- Behavioral changes (aggression)
- Excessive panting.
Many people overlook these symptoms as normal signs of old age. In fact, many veterinarians, including Dr. Anna Coffin, believe that more than 50% of animals suffer from arthritis without proper treatment. [Tweet “more than 50% of animals suffer from arthritis without proper treatment. “]
- Diet: It’s important to feed the proper amount of a high quality food to maintain your dog at a healthy weight. Prescription diets are available for dogs with arthritis. Ask your veterinarian which diet is appropriate for your dog.
- Exercise: Moderate exercise is important to maintain healthy muscle mass. Low impact exercise, like swimming, is less stressful on the joints
- Medications: There are many pain medications designed specifically for arthritis in dogs. Ask your veterinarian which product they recommend. Aspirin and ibuprofen can cause some serious side effects in dogs and should be avoided.
- Nutritional supplements: Glucosamine, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids play an essential role in the treatment of arthritis in dogs.
- Alternative medicine: Acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy and low laser light therapy are newer methods now available to treat arthritis in dogs.
It’s important to be aware of even the slightly signs of arthritis in dogs. By treating these signs early, your dog can remain an active part of the family and live in comfort. If you think your dog is in pain, talk with your veterinarian right away about these treatment options.