Arthritis is one of the most common problems I see in veterinary practice. Just like us, as our dog’s age, they can develop arthritis.
While larger breed dogs are more prone to this condition, arthritis occurs in any breed of dog. What are the symptoms of arthritis?
We called upon our expert veterinarian, Dr. Kristen Andrews, to share symptoms to look out for to recognize arthritis and steps you can take to manage it with your beloved pets.
Symptoms of arthritis
Symptoms may vary depending on your pet, the location of the arthritis, and the type of arthritis they may have. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Difficulty getting up, laying down, jumping, or using stairs
- Limping or favoring one or multiple legs
- Abnormal gait or posture
- Continuous licking or chewing at a particular area of the body
- Decreased activity or sleeping more
- Grouchiness or irritability
- Loss of muscle
- Swelling or painful joints or areas on their limbs
Management of arthritis
First and foremost, if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with your veterinarian before starting any medication for them. There are different types of arthritis as well as other diseases that may look like arthritis and may require special treatment for them. Your veterinarian is the best person to determine if your dog has arthritis and to properly advise you on how to treat it. While canine arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease can’t be cured, there are various ways in which it can be managed to help minimize the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.
Anti-inflammatories and pain medication. There are various pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs available for your veterinarian to use for your pet such as TruProfen. ALWAYS consult your veterinarian before giving ANY medication to your pet—including over the counter medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol. It can be easy to overdose your pet thus causing harmful side effects or toxicity. In addition, these medications may interfere with medications your veterinarian may want to prescribe for your pet.
Joint supplements. In mild cases of arthritis, some dogs can find comfort with a good quality glucosamine and chondroitin supplement like VetIQ’s Hip and Joint chews. Joint supplements may also be used in more severe cases of arthritis along with anti-inflammatories and pain relievers as they may help reduce the dosage needed of some of these medications.
Joint diets. Diets geared toward joint support can be very useful either alone or in combination with the above mentioned products to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Weight loss. Obesity leads to added stress and strain on your dog’s joints. Your veterinarian can aid you in helping them get down to a healthy weight which can make a big difference in their mobility.
Ramps and other mobility help. Use a ramp to help your dog navigate stairs more easily or to make it easier to get into the vehicle or onto the bed or furniture with you.
Comfortable sleep. Make sure they have a comfortable bed. Many companies now make orthopedic mattresses and beds for your pet.
Elevate food and water bowls. Keep food and water elevated slightly will help a dog with arthritis because it will reduce strain on the neck and spine.
Natural and homeopathic therapies. Massage, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic adjustment may also provide additional relief from pain and inflammation for your pet.