Arthritis in dogs is just as uncomfortable and painful as it is for humans, and it’s a relatively common problem. It is estimated that 25-50% of dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis in their lifetimes, so it’s something that all dog owners need to be aware of. The big issue here is that dogs can't talk and therefore cannot communicate that they are in pain from this medical condition.
Understanding the causes of arthritis and the risk factors that make some dogs more susceptible to it can help you take preventative steps to protect against it. Knowing how to spot the early symptoms and treat dog arthritis is important too because you need to make your dog comfortable and relieve their pain. Continue reading for more information about arthritis in dogs and how the condition can be managed.
What Causes Arthritis In Dogs?
Arthritis is a condition caused by inflammation of the joints. The cartilage in the joints wears down, causing them to rub together. This causes a lot of pain and discomfort for your dog and can even make it difficult for them to move. It can affect any area but it most commonly occurs in the knees, shoulders, hips, neck and back. In some cases, new bone will grow around the joints as a result of excess friction, making the arthritis considerably worse (this is known as degenerative joint disease).
Arthritis is most common in older dogs and affects 20% of dogs over the age of one. This is often down to general wearing of the cartilage around the joints over the years, but there may be more specific reasons too. Although dog arthritis usually affects older animals, it can be a problem for dogs of any age.
Damage to the joints caused by trauma, like a fracture, for example, can lead to changes in the cartilage and eventually arthritis. Instability in the joints caused by ligament damage is a risk factor too, so many dogs develop the condition after an injury. In some dogs, the cartilage grows abnormally and this leads to issues with joints rubbing.
Certain breeds of dog are more prone to arthritis due to their size. Large breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers or German Shepherds, are more likely to develop arthritis because they weigh more and this puts more stress on their joints. Any dog that is overweight, regardless of their breed, has an increased risk of arthritis so be sure to manage your dog's weight properly.
Some dogs may also have congenital and hereditary defects that make them more likely to develop arthritis. Hip dysplasia is one of the most common examples of this. This developmental disorder causes the femur and hip socket to grow at different rates, so the bone does not fit into the socket properly. This eventually leads to arthritis as the dog gets older.
How To Spot Arthritis In Dogs
If you want to take care of your dog’s health, it’s important that you watch out for the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. Identifying the problem early is important because your dog may be in a lot of pain.
These are some of the signs that you should look out for:
Changes To Exercise
Any changes in the way that your dog moves around and exercises is a cause for concern. If you notice that your dog is suddenly reluctant to go for walks when they are normally jumping up at the door, this may be because they are in a lot of pain when walking. Even if your dog is willing to go for a walk, you may notice that they move a lot slower than normal or they are favoring one leg/hip over another. Finally, you should look out for any signs of stiffness, especially after they have been sitting down for long periods.
Changes To Temperament
When a dog is experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort, they are likely to be grumpy. If your dog is normally very playful and affectionate but recently they have been quite withdrawn, this is a sign that something is wrong. There are a lot of possible reasons for a change in temperament so it’s best to get them checked over by the vet. In some cases, you will find that it is down to arthritis.
Excessive licking is a very common behavior for dogs that are in pain. They will often lick the affected area and you may notice saliva staining on their fur or even patches of thinning hair. Keep an eye on them and if you notice them licking the same areas over and over, you should take them to a vet.
These are the biggest signs of arthritis to watch out for and you should pay particular attention during the winter. Cold weather will make the discomfort worse so the symptoms will be more pronounced.
Can Dog Arthritis Be Cured?
The bad news is, dog arthritis cannot be cured and once cartilage is damaged, the condition will continue to worsen. However, if it is spotted early enough and the right treatments are used, you are able to slow the condition down. The right dog arthritis treatment can also make your dog comfortable and allow them to live a full life despite their arthritis.
How Can You Prevent And Treat Arthritis In Dogs?
Early intervention is the key to managing arthritis in dogs, so it’s important that you keep a close eye on their behavior and look out for any of the symptoms listed above. If you do notice anything, you should speak to your vet about managing the condition. Before we look at dog arthritis medicine, it’s important to think about the preventative measures that you can take.
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things that you can do to protect your dog from arthritis and improve their overall health. If you are concerned about your dog’s weight, speak to your vet about changing their food and finding ways to increase their activity levels.
Omega-3 is also a great tool in the fight against dog arthritis. Natural fish oils that contain lots of Omega-3 help to improve joint health and reduce the chances of developing arthritis in later life. Feeding salmon skins to your dog daily as a treat is one of the best ways to increase the levels of Omega-3 in their diet and improve their overall joint health. A second nutritional treat is feeding them beef trachea. Beef trachea is full of glucosamine and chondroitin. These nutrients are required in the rebuilding of daily wear of your dog's joints. Feeding these two things as a natural treat beginning at one year old will ensure your dog is getting the required amount of nutrients required for daily preventative maintenance naturally. Oh, and they will prefer them over a pill!
Treating Dog Arthritis
If your dog does develop arthritis, your vet will recommend a number of different treatments. Dog arthritis medicine is one of the most common solutions for dogs over the age of 1. In most cases, Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and omega 3's are the best things for your dog to take. These are both natural components in cartilage and they help to repair and maintain the joints properly. If you can identify the problem early and start administering treatments, you can slow the progress of the condition quite significantly. However, you must do your research to make sure you buy good quality supplements because the low quality ones will be ineffective and could even harm your dog. Always speak to your vet before giving new supplements to your dog and get their advice on dosage and how long you should keep giving them to your dog.
Pain management is very important for dogs with arthritis too. It is best to look for natural treatments for your dog to reduce the chances of any side effects. That’s why CBD oil is such an effective option for dogs with arthritis. Studies show that CBD is a very effective pain reliever for dogs with osteoarthritis, and it is perfectly safe because it’s a completely natural option. However, make sure that you are buying CBD oil from reliable sources because there are a lot of poor quality products out there. CBD products for dogs are not very heavily regulated, which means that there are a lot that don’t contain much CBD at all and will not benefit your dog.
Some vets may recommend other anti-inflammatory drugs and medications to protect cartilage. Although these can be effective and they do help to manage the symptoms of arthritis and slow the development of the condition, they do have their downsides. Many of these drugs have severe side effects that cause more discomfort for your dog, and they are not suitable for long term use. That’s why it’s best to use a natural dog arthritis treatment, like salmon skins and beef trachea, and natural pain relieves like CBD oil instead.
Arthritis in dogs is a very common health issue that many dog owners will have to deal with at some point. Regardless of whether your dog is at high risk or not, you must be vigilant and watch out for the common symptoms of arthritis so it can be diagnosed early. If arthritis is spotted early and treated with the right natural products, the development of the condition can be slowed and the pain can be effectively managed.