If your dog suffers from arthritis, you may be wondering which dog arthritis treatment is best. There’s no right answer, just a variety of different options. With arthritis, the inflammation in the joint is often irreversible and the cartilage isRead more
If you have recently found that your dog suffers from canine arthritis, don’t despair there is help available for dog arthritis pain relief. Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs and there are a myriad ofRead more
What is canine arthritis exactly?
Did you know that arthritis is the most common cause of pain in our canine friends? Arthritis in dogs, also known as osteoarthritis, can occur in many joints of the body. It is what makes some dogs, especially “seniors”, limp, whine or simply ‘slow down’. Canine arthritis is a typical part of the aging process but can be caused by other things.
To understand canine arthritis, it is necessary to understand a little bit of anatomy. Arthritis typically occurs in joints – where two bones meet. These joints are complex but they are all lined with a substance called cartilage. Cartilage is the powerful “shock absorber” that prevents bones of the joint from rubbing together. It is a living substance, complete with its own cells and nutritional needs.
Arthritis happens when this cartilage begins to deteriorate, causing bone to rub against bone. Bones are lined by a tissue, called the periosteum, which contains nerves and is very sensitive. When the protective cartilage wears away, the bones rubbing causes pain.
In Greek, arthritis means “inflammation of the joint.” A multitude of things can cause this inflammation, often leading to cartilage damage and arthritis. The joint is encapsulated by very strong tissue, so it can be difficult for the body to quickly reduce the inflammation that happens when cartilage is damaged.
Common conditions associated with canine arthritis include:
- Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
- A result of other disease
- “Wear and tear” of time
- Trauma or Injury such as “ACL” injuries (cranial cruciate ligament) or fractures
- Genetic or Breed-Associated Diseases, including: Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Osteochondrosis dessicans (OCD)
- Poor Conformation (body shape or structure)
Symptoms of dog arthritis?
Symptoms of dog arthritis can vary. It is best to look out for signs such as:
- “Slowing down”
- Difficulty moving to standing or sitting position
- Lameness (limping) on one or more limbs
- Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping
- Licking at a joint
- Less interest in play or exercise
- Moving stiffly
- Aggression or avoidance when being touched
How is Canine Arthritis Diagnosed?
Arthritis in pets is diagnosed by your veterinarian. Diagnosis involves a physical examination and often x-rays (radiographs). Sometimes special manipulation of the joint can definitively diagnose arthritis, but x-rays can show the severity and if other problems are causing the pain, such as small bone chips in the joint. Sometimes arthritic joints will “pop” or “crunch” when the dog moves or the joints are moved during an examination.
Could My Dog Have Arthritis?
Any dog can develop arthritis, even puppies. However, older dogs are more likely to develop arthritis than their younger counterparts. After all, they have had a lifetime of wear and tear on their joints and may have suffered injuries at some point.
As we know, arthritis can be caused by a multitude of reasons, and breed can certainly predispose some individuals.
Breeds that are at-risk for canine arthritis include:
- French Bulldog
- English Bulldog
- Yorkshire terrier
- Labrador Retriever
- Cross-breeds, such as the YorkiePoo, Puggle and Labradoodle
Arthritis is often the end result of another type of joint disease. For example, Labrador retrievers and Labradoodles are prone to inheriting genes that cause diseases like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Both of these diseases cause arthritis.
Dogs that are former athletes, like many off-the-track Greyhounds, or those extremely active with their pet parents are more predisposed to develop arthritis. The forces put on their joints predisposes them to injury, inflammation and the symptoms of arthritis.
Certain breeds with poor conformation can be more predisposed to arthritis. Breeds with short legs often have long bones that meet at the joints at unusual angles. These characteristics may be what makes these breeds look cute or perform a job, but they can be problematic as the dog ages. Good examples include the Basset Hound, Dachshund and English Bulldog.
If you think that your canine companion is showing symptoms of dog arthritis, it is best to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. A variety of treatment options are available, but first, it is important to have the correct diagnosis and know its severity.
Written by Dr Deborah Shores
(Dr. Shores is an American veterinarian, freelance writer and consultant. She received her B.S. in Animal Science from Berry College in Rome, Georgia and D.V.M. from Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine.)
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