can result in changes to the joint cartilage, the joint fluid, the
bones involved in the joint and the actual capsule of the joint.
of arthritis include:
to walk, climb stairs, jump, or play
limping or lameness in one or more limb
around a joint
around a joint
when you palpate a joint
when flexing a joint
dog holds its breath or stops panting when a painful joint is
dog reacts suddenly – turns his head, snaps, or yelps in pain
when you touch a sore joint
dog puts less weight on a leg with a sore joint when he’s standing
dog holds up a leg with a sore joint
of the skin around a sore joint. (You may have to part the dog’s
hair to see this)
behind on walks
appetite – pain from arthritis can cause a dog to stop eating
rising from a resting position
personality change resisting touch
of stiffness being worst in the mornings improving as the day
arthritis comes in different types, a trip to the veterinarian is
necessary for diagnoses and treatment. These types include:
(OA) also known as Degenerative joint disease (DJD)
Elbow or Knee Dysplasia
Arthritis (Inflammatory joint disease)
(where the cause is unknown)
is caused by: traumatic injury resulting in joint instability (tearing
of the cruciate ligament); overweight – obesity can hasten its development
by increasing the concussive forces in the joint; the joints may
be genetically weakened or unstable as occurs in cases of hip dysplasia;
failure of proper bone development (OCD) in young dogs.
is based on many factors such as: the history of the dog (if he
had an injury or is overweight); clinical signs and by palpation
of the joints; radiography (x-ray) which can assess the degree of
joint changes; analyzing joint fluid.
joint disease can sometimes be halted or prevented by surgery when
x-rays indicate joint malformations. If surgery is not indicated
or advisable, relief can be achieved with painkillers, exercise,
rest, and diet. However, even over-the-counter painkillers should
not be used without the advice of a veterinarian who can determine
which treatment is best for each dog.
generations of drugs to relieve pain includes Rimadyl, Adequan,
and Palaprin. These are only available from veterinarians.
(generic name carprofen) has gotten raves from veterinarians for
its ability to relieve pain with few side effects. Long-term use
of this drug requires periodic blood tests for liver function, but
most dogs apparently do well on it. Like all drugs, Rimadyl is not
effective for all patients.
(polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is given by injection twice each
week for four weeks. It not only relieves the pain of arthritis,
it binds to damaged cartilage to facilitate repair, blocks the action
of destructive enzymes that cause inflammation, and stimulates the
production of healthy joint fluid.
is a buffered aspirin specifically for dogs; it can be used in the
same circumstances in which aspirin is used but without the gastrointestinal
irritation that sometimes occurs with aspirin.
nutrients can greatly help their dog’s health and joint management
such as: Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate, Shark Cartilage, Bovine
Cartilage, Perna Canaliculus, Sea Cucumber and others. Your vet
can recommend what he feels is best for your dog.
medications can be very beneficial to control pain and inflammation
when used sensibly and monitored by your veterinarian.
(“steroids”,) are commonly used for treating the arthritic dog.
can give excellent results in pain management and may eliminate
the need for medications.
medicine can give great benefits also as they are designed to treat
the animal in a holistic manner. Be confident in your choice of
herbal practitioner and ask your veterinarian for guidance if unsure.
there is a traumatic cause, surgical repair of ligaments may be
necessary to stabilize the joint.
The Bottom Line:
and foremost, always consult your veterinarian for advice and treatment.
drugs, surgery, or both are indicated in arthritis treatment owners
should make sure their dogs get plenty of rest and are not asked
to perform painful exercise during treatment and recuperation. Veterinary
advice regarding exercise should be followed even though it may
seem that the recovery is slow. Ultimately, the type and duration
of exercise will have to be restricted to reduce the pain as much
to deal with any problems of obesity because a few extra pounds
will put extra pressure on painful joints.
Elevated feeders for food and water help to eliminate stress on
neck and back muscles (especially for older dogs or large breeds).
ramps or stair steps are a great aid in helping older and arthritic
dogs get onto (or down from) their favorite sofa or chair.
Lift Carriers used under chest or abdomen are wonderful for helping
arthritic, lame or recovering pets up steps, around the yard, in
and out of vehicles, or simply up on their feet.
he sleeps in your bed, a foot stool at the side or bottom of the
bed might be helpful for him to gain access to the bed.
him a good bed such as egg crate mattresses, heated beds, or special
needs beds (orthopedic bed) may also help relieve some of your dog’s
morning stiffness. A bed with soft, thick padding will help cushion
bones. A circulating warm-water heating pad under the blanket can
provide added warmth. To avoid burning the skin, never place your
dog directly on the heating pad. Your vet can give guidance on what
type bedding he feels is best for your dog.
he’s an outside dog, provide shelter from the rain and cold.
heat to the joint can help relieve muscle spasm and pain. Just soak
a towel in warm water, and apply to the joint for 10 minutes, two
to three times a day. Be careful with heat – if the heat pack is
too warm, it can irritate the skin.
you notice swelling in the joint area, it is better to apply a cold
pack, or ice wrapped in a towel, for 15-20 minutes, three times
a day. Also be careful with cold packs because if they are too cold,
or are used for too long, they can irritate the skin. It’s important
to talk to your veterinarian if you see signs of joint swelling.
people, dogs with arthritis can experience more discomfort when
in a cold, damp environment, so try to keep your dog in a warm and
of Motion and Stretching Exercises
swimming pools, bathtubs, sinks, lakes and streams, and underwater
treadmills may be used for aquatic therapy.
low-impact exercises such as regular leash walking and swimming
are ideal for dogs. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise
for all dogs. Arthritic dogs will greatly benefit from swimming,
because it is low impact, has no jarring effect on the joint and
gives your dog a good workout while strengthening and building up
muscle tone. Never leave a dog alone in the pool!
wave therapy. Although treatment of dogs with shock wave therapy
is relatively new, tendonitis, desmitis, spondylosis, non-union
fractures, and osteoarthritis have all been successfully treated.
The clinical effects of shock wave treatment include reduced inflammation
and swelling, short-term analgesic effect, improved vascularity
and neovascularization, increased bone formation, realignment of
tendon fibers, and enhanced wound healing.
Gentle massage can be used to increase blood flow to the arthritic
areas before activity, and to decrease stiffness after activity.
Ask your veterinarian to show you how to correctly massage around