What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that affects the bones that make up the body’s joints. It causes the bones to rub together because of damage to the surrounding cartilage and tissues that would normally provide protection. And, it doesn’t just occur in human beings. Dogs, too, of any age, may suffer from it, particularly those older than 5 years. The most common types of canine arthritis are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Infectious Arthritis. None of us wish our dogs to suffer from arthritis. So, it’s good to know that if it happens, there are treatments available to ease the symptoms. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of arthritis, so that you are able to provide better comfort and care to your senior dog.
What causes arthritis?
Some dogs are pre-disposed to suffer from arthritis, for example:
- Dogs who have suffered hip dysplasia, excessive strain on their joints, or previous injuries.
- Older dogs, particularly large dogs aged 5 years and above, and smaller dogs aged 8 years and above.
However, not all dogs with the above conditions get arthritis. Some dogs – just like people – never suffer from arthritis at all. What are the symptoms?
If you think your dog may be experiencing the onset of arthritis, look for signs of stiffness and pain in the joints, which may result in:
- Difficulty going up or downstairs, rising from a sit, and/or performing other movements that were formerly a part of your dog’s everyday life.
- Avoiding, becoming aggressive, and/or exhibiting pain when touched. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from arthritis, consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Although there is no cure, there is still much that you can do to help your aging friend enjoy his senior years in comfort.
How can I help ease my dog’s arthritic symptoms?
Controlled exercise: Although vigorous exercise will be painful for an athritic dog, exercise should not be avoided. However, it should be gentle, no-impact exercise. This kind of exercise actually helps decrease the symptoms because it keeps the joints moving.
Healthy weight: If your dog is overweight, this puts more pressure on his joints and his symptoms will be worse. Speak to your veterinarian about helping your dog feel more comfortable by putting him on a calorie-controlled diet. Your vet can help you determine the optimum weight for your dog.
Therapeutic massage: You can do this at home, or take your dog to a professional dog massage therapist. Either way, your dog will appreciate the relief a massage will bring. If you choose to do this yourself, concentrate on areas that may be especially painful and stiff, such as your dog’s joints, and knead these areas gently.
Comfort and care: Arthritis pain is aggravated by the cold, so keep your dog warm by adding an extra blanket or two to his bed, and keep him inside on damp, cold days.
Prescription and medication?: There are many medications that can help ease the pain of arthritis. The type of medication most suitable to your dog depends on the type of arthritis he has, and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Never give medication to your dog without consulting your vet.
Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many ways of helping your dog be more comfortable. And that means that your dog’s life needn’t be ruled by his arthritis. By following the above treatment and suggestions, you are giving your dog the help he needs to continue enjoy many of his favourite activities – whether it’s joining you on the couch or taking a short walk in the park – and that translates to more quality time for you and your senior dog.