As with people, the chances of arthritis increase with age in dogs. Some breeds are more prone to arthritis than others, and an injury sustained at any age can also increase the chances of early-onset arthritis. Studies show that up to eighty percent of older dogs have arthritis.
Treatment for arthritis in dogs
· Dog joint chews that include supplements to support joint health such as glucosamine, fish oils, and other natural ingredients that promote overall health.
· Gentle exercise—Like humans, some types of activities can continue to put stress on damaged joints. Gentle exercises, like walking and swimming, can help keep your dog healthy without doing further damage to their joints.
· Weight control—excess weight puts extra stress on joints, so your vet may recommend that you put your dog on a diet to achieve their ideal weight.
· NSAIDs—If your dog seems to be in pain, your veterinarian may prescribe NSAIDs formulated for dogs. NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal issues, and your vet will probably recommend that you limit their use. Remember, never give your dog human medications. NSAIDs formulated for humans can be toxic to dogs, so never give OTC medicines for people to your pets.
· Acupuncture—your vet may recommend acupuncture to relieve pain from the inflammation caused by arthritis.
· Stem cell therapy—stem cell injections were first used for hip dysplasia, but recent research has shown promise in treating arthritis in dogs. Ask your vet if your dog is a good candidate.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
If you notice signs, such as your dog slowing down, playing less, or not doing the things he once did, the chances are good that he may be experiencing arthritis. A visit to the vet is always a good idea to make sure there isn’t anything else going on with your pet’s health. Specific signs of arthritis include:
· Frequent limping—if your dog seems to have a frequent limp, especially if it is always the same leg he favors, it could be arthritis. Pay attention when your dog gets up in the morning or after a long nap. If the limping is worse, then it is a strong indication that he may be developing arthritis.
· Your pet exhibits a lack of enthusiasm for things they once loved. If your dog once became excited at the sight of his leash or the word walk, but now responds sluggishly, he is probably experiencing pain from arthritis.
· Back pain can be caused by arthritis. In a dog, this can manifest as a strange posture or walking with a pronounced hunch in his back.
· The dog’s legs are becoming thinner. When pain is causing your pet to move less, the muscles in their legs will begin to waste, resulting in a thinner appearance of the legs.
· Pain can cause irritability, so pay attention to changes in your pet’s demeanor. If your dog suddenly starts to snap or growl during grooming, or when petting him a certain way, it could be a pain response from arthritis.
· Refusal or reluctance to jump—if your dog sleeps in the bed with you, or loves to go on car rides, but suddenly won’t jump to get in the bed or car, you know something is wrong. Arthritis of the joints makes the jarring from jumping uncomfortable.
· Urinating indoors in a pet that is completely house trained—if your pet has always been dependably house trained suddenly starts peeing inside, it is probably because of the pain caused by going outside.
As with any injury or illness, the faster you get treatment for your pet, the better the likely outcome will be. If you notice your pet exhibiting signs of arthritis, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Your vet may prescribe a specific treatment, medication, or physical therapy to help keep your pet as mobile as possible.
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