Arthritis can be just as uncomfortable for dogs as it is for humans. There are, however, ways to manage the condition. In today's post, our Cincinnati vets detail what arthritis in dogs is and how it can be treated.
What is arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain, discomfort, and stiffness in many dogs. Cartilage within a joint (hip, elbow, etc.) changes or becomes damaged in dogs with arthritis, making it less smooth and causing the bones to rub together. As a result of the increased friction, new bone forms around the joint, stiffening it and making it more difficult to move.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis is usually a problem for older dogs, but it can happen at a young age if there are problems with how the bones and joints grow. Most cases are caused by abnormal rubbing inside the joint, which can be caused by joint instability (e.g. after ligament damage), damage to or abnormal cartilage development, or damage caused by trauma (e.g. fractures).
What are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs?
The following are some of the most common signs of arthritis in dogs:
- Reluctance to exercise
- Lameness or stiffness (especially after long periods of rest)
- Signs get worse when it's cold or damp
- Licking at joint (signs of saliva staining)
- Your dog seems to be moving slower than normal.
- Your dog being grumpy
How do vets diagnose arthritis in dogs?
Your vet may suggest diagnostic tests, like x-rays, to confirm and find the changes caused by arthritis. In some cases, blood tests may be needed to rule out any health problems that could be linked to arthritis.
How is arthritis in dogs treated?
If your vet thinks your dog has arthritis, he or she may need treatment more than once over the course of their life. Treatments vary a lot in terms of the drugs used and how long they take to give your dog the best short-term and long-term solution. Some solutions include:
Cold Laser Therapy
Cold laser therapy uses a low-intensity laser or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to help relieve pain, stimulate and improve cell function, and speed up healing. Several conditions, like muscle and joint pain, arthritis symptoms, and muscle spasms, have been shown to get better with laser therapy.
Cartilage protectors are made to stop cartilage from getting damaged, help joint structures heal, and reduce painful inflammation. Hyaluronic acid, polysulfated glycosaminoglycans, and pentosan polysulfonate are some examples of these.
Arthritis is often worse in overweight and unfit dogs, so the best way to treat it is to keep the dog at a healthy weight and make sure it gets enough exercise. This will reduce the stress on the joints and make sure the muscles around the joints are as flexible and fit as possible.
These can often be given as treats along with any medicines your vet has given you.
There are always new drugs being made and put on the market, so it's important to know what's going on in this field of medicine.
Is there a cure for arthritis?
Unfortunately not. Many pets, however, can be made pain-free by giving them the right medicines over a period of time. Because arthritis affects dogs in so many different ways, many dogs can deal with it well with minimal help from a vet. But some patients will need treatment. These can range from simple changes to their lifestyle to complicated surgery.