As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your dog is comfortable and happy for as long as you have them. However, there are certain medical conditions that can make day-to-day life miserable for dogs, and one of them is canine arthritis.
Canine arthritis is a common condition in dogs that can cause debilitating pain and mobility issues. Understanding the symptoms of canine arthritis and its causes can help dog owners provide their four-legged friends with the best possible care.
What is Canine Arthritis?
Canine arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that affects dogs. It is a chronic condition that develops gradually over time and causes stiffness, pain and decreased mobility in the affected joints. It is most often seen in older dogs but can also occur in younger dogs due to physical trauma, congenital defects or other medical conditions.
The disease occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bones at the joints wears down, causing bone-on-bone contact. This leads to inflammation of the joint tissues and the development of bony growths called osteophytes.
Canine arthritis can affect any joint in a dog’s body but most commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees, ankles, elbows and shoulders. The severity of arthritis varies from mild to severe and can be affected by factors such as age, breed, weight and genetics.
Common Causes of Canine Arthritis
There are a number of different possible causes for canine arthritis, and many dogs will experience a combination of the following factors.
One of the most common causes of arthritis in dogs is ageing. As dogs grow older, their joints undergo wear and tear due to continuous use, leading to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.
Certain dog breeds are more prone to developing arthritis than others due to their genetic makeup. For example, large breed dogs such as the Husky and Labrador Retriever have a higher risk of developing arthritis. Part of responsible dog breeding is testing for these genetic tendencies and breeding accordingly. large breed dogs such as GoldenDoodle
Joint injuries or trauma can lead to arthritis later in life. Injuries such as fractures or ligament tears can cause chronic pain and inflammation, which can eventually lead to arthritis.
Overweight dogs put more pressure on their joints than they should be carrying, which can lead to the development of arthritis over time.
Certain infections such as Lyme disease can cause joint inflammation and eventually lead to arthritis. Bacterial infections that enter the bloodstream can also affect the joint lining and cause inflammation.
Some autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause joint damage in dogs by attacking healthy tissues.
Symptoms of Canine Arthritis
Canine arthritis can cause a range of symptoms that may vary in severity depending on the individual dog and the stage of the disease. Some common symptoms of canine arthritis include:
- Limping or favouring one leg
- Stiffness or difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position
- Decreased range of motion in the affected joint
- Swelling or tenderness around the affected joint
- Reluctance to run or jump
- Licking or biting at the affected joint
- A decrease in activity level, reluctance to play or go for walks
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability, aggression, or changes in behaviour
It is important to note that some dogs may not show obvious signs of arthritis until later stages when joint damage is more severe, so regular check-ups with a veterinarian are important in identifying and managing this condition early on. Early diagnosis with appropriate treatment is essential when it comes to managing canine arthritis effectively.
Diagnosis & Treatment
If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms it’s important to take them to your veterinarian for an examination and diagnosis. Your vet will perform a physical exam and may order x-rays or other imaging tests to properly diagnose canine arthritis.
Treatment options depend on the severity of your pet’s condition but may include medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers or supplements (e.g., glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate). Other lifestyle changes will be targeted at reducing your dog’s weight or lessening the impact on their joints, such as diet modifications, weight management programs and even water therapy in some cases.
Understanding the signs and causes of canine arthritis can help pet owners provide their four-legged friends with better quality care if they are suffering from this painful condition. With proper treatment and health management, there are always ways for you to help your dog live a longer, healthier life after their diagnosis.