Millions of people are affected by osteoarthritis. In fact, this is a very popular form of arthritis. This happens when the cartilage that is protecting the end of bones begin to wear down. While it can inflict damage to any joints, it is typically seen in hips, hands, knees and also, spine.
If you think that this health condition is only impacting humans, then you may be surprised that our beloved dogs suffer from it too.
What Is Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
Just as with humans, osteoarthritis or OA in dogs is very common too. Majority of arthritis in dogs are secondary to the development of orthopedic disease like the following:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Patella or knee cap dislocation
- Cranial cruciate ligament disease
In other dog breeds though, OA happens without prior problems. With this said, OA is connected to old age and dog’s genetic. Then again, there are other factors that contribute to OA similar to the dog’s diet, exercise, gender and bodyweight.
What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?
While no dogs are exempted to OA, it’s typically diagnosed in bigger breeds similar to Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Despite the cutting-edge development in healthcare, it is still unknown how OA occurs. But experts believe that it is linked to underlying issues like cruciate injury, dislocation of knee or shoulder or injury brought by trauma.
Truth is, osteoarthritis can be classified either as primary or secondary.
- Primary – it has a tendency to be idiopathic which means, unknown cause or is brought by aging.
- Secondary – caused by another condition like cruciate tear, injury, patellar luxation and the likes.
Of course, let us not eliminate age and weight. These two are also factors for the development of arthritis in dogs. You must know that whether OA is primary or secondary, changes are going to be gradual. When it happens, joint capsule and health, subchondral bone, synovial membrane, articular cartilage and ligaments will continuously degrade.
Osteoarthritis in Dogs Risk Factors
Sadly, any dog could be impacted by osteoarthritis, most especially those that are aging. However, there are factors that could predispose dogs to such condition like:
- Large breeds
- Age, especially middle-age to older dogs
- Constant stress from intense activities like diving, flyball or agility
- Prior diagnosis of elbow or hip dysplasia
- Poor conformation
- Improper nutrition
- Infections affecting joints like Lyme disease
If it’s been confirmed that the dog has OA, it is vital to be updated with vet visits. This can significantly help that your dog is within healthy weight. They can even catch signs or symptoms of OA long before it turns out to be a serious problem.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs varies on its severity. This is something that every responsible owner must know.
Though, common signs to watch out for are stiffness, abnormal gait, reduced mobility, limping, clicking sounds as they walk, soreness when it’s touched, yelping or whimpering in pain, difficulty of standing up, weight gain, lameness, restlessness, loss of appetite and hard time jumping.
How To Diagnose Arthritis in Dogs?
In an effort to diagnose arthritis in dogs, your vet is going to conduct a physical exam. They’ll be checking all joint areas for signs of pain. In addition to that, they may request X-rays and blood tests. This is essential to eliminate other health conditions like bone cancer. These tests are crucial as it would show how serious the joints have been damaged. The result will be used in guiding the treatment plan.
How To Treat Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
It is imperative to create a harmonious relationship with your vet. Meaning, you must have scheduled evaluations to watch out the progression of osteoarthritis. By doing so, the vet can tell you whether there are modifications needed to perform on the treatment plan or not.
When searching for dog joint supplement, make sure it has joint health building blocks. Typically, these are chondroitin, GLM and glucosamine. Other important items you must check in your search are its ingredients, manufacturing and product requirements, proper dosage and taste and smell.
- Ingredients – countless brands use chondroitin and glucosamine as their ingredients. This is good. But preferably, go with the ones that are labelled “scientifically proven”. This gives your dog the highest chance of near instant relief from their joint pain.
- Manufacturing and product requirements – only buy products that have a reputation for manufacturing high-quality products.
- Proper dosage – see to it that you follow the recommended dosage in the packaging. There are supplements that’ll require you to start at a high dose and lower it gradually and vice versa.
- Taste and smell – most dogs are happy to take their supplements, especially if it’s in form of treat. Then again, not all supplements are created the same. Some are in a pill form that must be administered. In such cases, owners must be creative on hiding the pills in their dog’s treats or their favorite soft foods.
Most veterinarians prescribe drugs as their immediate solution to treat chronic pain. If used well, prescribed drug can significantly improve your dog’s life.
Literally, there are hundreds of drugs being developed for humans that are also used by vets. However, only the NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are used. Two non-NSAID drugs have been approved by US FDA suitable for dog use and these are Adequan and Galliprant.
Adequan is a class of drug referred to as Disease Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs or DMOAD. This drug can be acquired only through a licensed veterinarian. It’s due to the reason that it is neither an ointment or pill. It’s a treatment that requires injection.
With Adequan injections, the drug is distributed into the joint fluid and cartilage and to the rest of the body. Furthermore, the effect of each injection is to slow down the breakdown of cartilage. Also, it provides the body with chondroitin sulfate. This is a helpful joint substance that is stimulating collagen production.
Improving the joint fluid’s texture is another benefit of Adequan injection. This then results in better joint lubrication. Eventually, it makes joint mobility easier and brings comfort to dogs with arthritis.
There is going to be a total of 8 injections to achieve effective treatment. In this case, your vet will schedule an injection in every 3 to 4 days.
Food & Diet
Of course, it is natural to keep dogs at healthy weight. This not only guarantees that they are healthy but also, reduce risks of other health conditions including arthritis in dogs, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and so forth.
To make it happen, give them balanced diet containing whole foods, oils, herbs and spices. You can get started on your dog’s healthy diet with sweet potato, pumpkin, acorn squash, spinach, collards, chicken, salmon, tuna, mackerel, broccoli, peeled apple, blueberries, cantaloupe, fish oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, green-lipped mussel oil, turmeric, parsley, cinnamon and fresh ginger root.
The end goal for managing osteoarthritis is to improve the dog’s quality of life. To achieve this, pain must be controlled by restoring mobility. The conventional modality to reach this goal includes surgery, diet manipulation and prescription drugs.
While this is the case, a lot of dog owners are wondering if there are other alternative approaches in managing arthritis in dogs. The straightforward answer here is, there are and they’re in form of acupuncture and physical therapy.
Acupuncture was first introduced about 2,000 years ago. It involves the insertion of several thin needles in different areas of the body. The needles help in stimulating endorphin production. These hormones are vital in reducing pain and inducing the feeling of “happiness”.
Slowly, it became a popular alternative in alleviating conditions among humans. These conditions include but not limited to anxiety, stress, infertility and even digestive disorders. Many would vouch that acupuncture made their lives more comfortable and fulfilling.
What would surprise people is, acupuncture can be used for dogs with arthritis. As endorphins are released into your dog’s body, a lot of things happen in their system. It dilates the blood vessels, improves blood circulation and increase oxygen production. Eventually, the pain your dog feels in their joints is reduced.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
There are several techniques in performing physical therapy. But the ultimate goal remains the same: improve mobility and decrease pain for dogs with arthritis.
Regular exercises like swimming or walking are always a great start at home. Though if you want to make it more effective, talk to your vet or a rehab therapist. They can show you how to integrate therapeutic exercise to your regular schedule. This plan will concentrate on maintaining or increasing dog’s flexibility, strength as well as proprioception.
How To Help My Dog Managing Pain From Arthritis?
Learning that your dog has arthritis may seem to be a frightening news. But you should not dwell in fear. Now, there are plenty of strategies and methods that can help dogs to manage their pain. For instance, there are dog beds designed specifically for dogs with arthritis, a dog-lift harness to assist dog with their mobility issues and so forth.
Your vet can help in finding the best plan specific to your dog’s condition and current health. They can also answer questions that you might have along the way.
Orthopedic Dog Beds
This bed has a specific design to ease arthritis in dogs. Joint pains can be reduced. It is effective too in preventing other joint problems from happening like hip dysplasia. If you own a Border Collie, then you should probably have one as this breed is prone to it.
Aside from providing comfort and support for joint pains, orthopedic dog beds promote better sleep. Dogs feel more energized, and well-rested in the following day.
A dog lift harness support dog in various mobility problems. These are especially ideal to senior dogs that have joint pains. They can be used in assisting injured pets to stay mobile and give support to paralyzed pets in reducing pressure on their legs.
What Is The Prognosis of Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
It could be disheartening to learn that osteoarthritis is irreversible or incurable. Though successful treatment helps in reducing pain that is brought by damaged joint. It can help in slowing the degeneration of the said joints and enable your dog to live freely as they age.
Life of dogs with arthritis largely depend on the type of care they receive. There are tips you can do to make this happen like:
- Monitoring diet
- Weight management
- Regular exercise
- Consider therapeutic arthritis treatment
- Use mobility aids
Can Arthritis in Dogs Be Prevented?
Until now, there’s no known cure for osteoarthritis. It’s a progressive disease and the only way that dog owners can do is to prevent its development through exercise and diet. Also, don’t forget the use of joint supplements.
Talk To Your Vet About Osteoarthritis in Dogs
There’s no need to panic if your dog has osteoarthritis. You can always seek help from your trusted veterinarian. They are equipped with knowledge and experience to guide you on how to treat your dog’s condition. In case you don’t know any vet, there are forums online you can visit and check the thread. Additionally, you can ask friends if they can recommend any vets where they bring their pets.
Border Collies And Arthritis
Border Collies love to be with their owners; regardless of their activity or their whereabouts. These dogs are simply energetic and love showing affection. Their breed was initially intended for herding primarily because of their intelligence and friendliness.
On the other hand, their athleticism and size serve as the perfect combination in making them susceptible to arthritis.
As mentioned, arthritis is irreversible and incurable. Prevent it from ever happening to your Border Collie by talking to your vet. Ask them of the best gears, joint supplements, activities and diet to support their joints from any activity you’d be doing.