Arthritis in dogs is just as much a problem for elderly dogs as it is for humans and this inflammation of the joints can be equally as uncomfortable for our furry friends.
In dogs who suffer from arthritis, the cartilage within their joints undergoes change or damage, resulting in the bone surfaces rubbing together. As well as obviously causing discomfort for your dog, this increased friction causes new bone to form around the joint. This makes the joint stiffer, which limits its movement, and consequently the movement of your pooch, even more.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis is usually a problem common in elderly dogs, but the condition can also develop from an early age. Dogs’ joints are used heavily during daily activities, such as walking, running and jumping. But the more the joints are used, the more susceptible they are to picking up problems, such as ligament tears. This damage can often lead to arthritis through abnormal rubbing within the joint. For a lot of dogs, the boundless energy they have as a pup can lead to deficient movement in later life.
What are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs?
So how can you tell if your dog suffers from arthritis? Spotting joint problems within your dog can be difficult as a lot of the symptoms could be easily confused with old age. The most common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Your dog finds average activities difficult, such as playing, jumping or going up the stairs.
- Your dog seems lazy or reluctant to go on walks, he/she also walks more slowly.
- When walking, your dog may be reluctant to use a specific limb.
- He/she struggles with getting up or has difficulty getting comfortable.
- Your dog seems to tire more easily than usual.
- Your dog may also give you clearer signs, such as holding the limb in question.
What are the solutions?
Apart from some TLC, there are a few other ways you can help your dog. For example, the dog version of physiotherapy is available at certain institutes, but also very achievable at home. Arthritis is commonly worse in overweight and unfit dogs, so exercising with your dog is a fun way to keep both of you healthy. While your pooch may seem reluctant to exercise, staying active really helps arthritic dogs by relieving achy bones and joints.
It’s important to keep the exercises fairly light and minimise the load on your dog’s joints. For example, swimming is good for dogs with arthritis because the water supports much of their weight. Walking also helps strengthen muscles and keep ligaments flexible, but avoid activities in which your dog has to jump or run, as they can worsen their joints. Keep the activities short but also regular, no more than 30 minutes of exercise five days a week is a great way to start your dog moving. If your dog seems reluctant, try an incentive like a treat or some positive reinforcement to motivate them. However, make sure to watch for signs of exertion, such as heavy panting, at which point it is time to stop the activity.
After each exercise help your dog “cool down”. For example, massages are beneficial as they relax the joints and improve stiffness. Making sure you dog is comfortable during his/ her downtime is important, so it might also be a good idea to ensure your dog has a comfortable bed to encourage rest and relaxation.
Supplements and Medicines
As well as exercise, there are quite a few medicines available to help reduce the inflammation in your dog’s joints and consequently, ease their pain. Here at Vet-Medic, we provide a range of products in our joint and mobility section to help support your pet suffering from joint issues, including anti-inflammatory therapy and veterinary painkillers.
We have a range of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatments used to treat osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Such treatments work by alleviating the inflammation of the joints and the pain of both acute and chronic musculo-skeletal disorders. The various treatments are also available in the form of dog chews, tablets, capsules and liquid that can easily be hidden in your dog’s food. The prices of such medicines start from as little as 26 pence.