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  • Home > Dog Health > Dog Health – Oseteoarthritis, Causes and Treatments

Dog Health – Oseteoarthritis, Causes and Treatments

Senior Dog with Joint Problems

 

When the Old Doggie Joints Just Ain’t What They Used to Be

Part of what we love about our canine pals is their energy. They are so fun to watch and sometimes even inspire us to be more physically active, ourselves! Unfortunately, some of Rocky’s best tricks may wear his body down and cause damage over time, in the form of osteoarthritis.

 

A note from my Editor, Oliver: Osteoarthritis is just a fancy way of saying, “joint problems.” Just like people, dogs have a smooth cartilage around their joints for shock absorption when we’re leaping in the air to catch the Frisbee or jumping up and down from the couch. If that cartilage wears away it becomes painful to do even the most common activities like standing up and lying down. In severe cases a poor fella can lose his ability to move at all. Some pups are born with joint problems and some breeds are prone to develop it. Well that’s all I really wanted to say. My Writer has some good tips for identifying and dealing with joint problems in dogs. Oliver – Out!

 

Although there are breeds and circumstances that can lead to canine osteoarthritis, any dog can get it. Sometimes it is caused from repeated stress on the joints, as Oliver mentioned above, sometimes dogs are born with a condition, such as hip or elbow dysplasia that promotes joint problems as a secondary issue, and sometimes it is simply part of the aging process. Whatever the case, here’s what to watch for…

 

- Less social than normal, preferring to go off someplace quiet and alone
- More sleepy than normal
- Avoiding his favorite high spots on the couch, bed, favorite chair, etc.
- Loss of muscle mass
- Hesitation to jump in and out of the car
- Grooming seems to become difficult for him, especially in the tail area
- A change in mood, sudden occurrence of snappiness
- Change in gait, skipping, or limping

 

A popular misconception is that small breeds are the most likely to develop osteoarthritis because they subject their little bodies to a lot of springing and jumping, but it’s actually the bigger dogs, the labs and the retrievers who seem to suffer the worst. Another surprising tidbit is that the more “mutty” a dog is, the less likely he is to suffer from joint problems. We often hear about the health problems associated with cross breeding, but in the case of osteoarthritis, the pure breads tend to have the most trouble.

 

There are lots of treatment options for canine osteoarthritis and your veterinarian will help you decide when it’s time for medicine and/or surgery. But just like with humans, the best prescription is prevention. Whether your dog is at risk, already suffering, or healthy & active, it is essential to their happiness and longevity to

 

- Manage weight. Over eating and feeding table scraps will make Rocky fat and sick. The less weight bearing down on those joints, healthy or otherwise, the better!

- Exercise. Regular moderate exercise every day will gently keep that range of motion flowing in joints. Physical activity will also help maintain a healthy weight. See above!

- Comfort. Gone are the days of dogs sleeping in dog houses and being chained up outside all night. A warm comfortable environment will add years to your dog’s life, especially in the case of an arthritis sufferer. Make sure he has at least one warm and comfortable spot to retreat to when he’s feeling bad. Another nice treat, especially with the big guys, is to raise the food and water bowl up so that he doesn’t have to bend so much, relieving pressure on the spine.

- Supplements. Fish oil is beneficial to dogs in so many ways and by improving overall health it can slow down wear and tear in general which is great! But it also has anti inflammatory properties which is a direct hit to those nasty arthritis symptoms!  There has also been success with using Glucosamine for dogs with joint problems, but you should definitely talk to your vet about how to use it and if it’s right for your dog. More information on Fish Oil.

 

Joint problems in dogs are very common, but it’s only one health risk of our canine companions. The best we can do as responsible pet owners is be educated and aware, and always note changes in our dog’s behavior and habits. Remember, dogs rarely cry when they’re in pain so it’s up to us to really pay attention to their physical cues. There is lots of information online and it’s a great starting point, but when you notice changes in activity or eating patterns – call your vet right away.

 

Need a vet? PetMd can help you find a veterinarian near you.

 

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