Your best friend has always bounded around the backyard and trotted easily by your side during walks. As your dog ages, some of the spring will inevitably go out of his step. But if you notice him occasionally having difficulty rising from sitting or avoiding activities he once loved, it’s possible he is showing the early signs of dog arthritis. Among the most common causes of chronic pain in dogs, some form of arthritis afflicts one in five adult dogs in the United States. The joint ailment is among the top ten reasons owners take their dogs to the vet.
Because your best friend is not one to complain, it’s important that you keep an eye on him for symptoms of canine arthritis, especially as he gets on in years. Read on to learn the warning signs of arthritis, what you can do to mitigate the symptoms, and how you can help your dog live with the condition in as much comfort as possible.
Arthritis is the umbrella term for joint pain in dogs. It is really multiple diseases where swelling and stiffness in the joints results in chronic pain and impaired movement. Any joint in your dog’s body can be affected by arthritis, but it predominantly affects the hips, knees, lower back, wrists and elbows.
Osteoarthritis: Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis in dogs. This progressive disease occurs when the cartilage that protects bones and cushions joints begins breaking down. The disintegration of the cartilage leads to a loss of the lubricating fluid that protects the joints. Without cartilage or lubrication, bones in the joints rub against each other, causing inflammation and pain. The breakdown of the cartilage can also lead to painful bone spurs.
Inflammatory Joint Disease: This less common form of arthritis is generally caused by bacterial or fungal infections such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It can also be brought on by hereditary problems with your dog’s immune system.
The first symptoms of arthritis in dogs can be subtle, such as an increase in sleeping, weight gain, and a loss of alertness. New symptoms tend to compound gradually and worsen over time. Early intervention can help mitigate symptoms and progression of the disease. Here’s what you should watch for:
The treatment plan for your arthritic dog will likely be a combination of medical approaches prescribed by your veterinarian and tender loving care provided by you at home, depending upon the severity and underlying causes of the illness.
Here are the steps you can take to ensure your dog is as comfortable as possible, as well as the medical interventions your vet will consider:
How to Massage Your Arthritic Dog
Massage is a lovely way to bond with your best friend, especially when your days of catch are behind you. It is most beneficial to massage your dog from 10 to 20 minutes, depending upon breed size, in the morning and the evening. Follow these steps, avoiding excessive pressure directly on the joint and backing off if the pain seems to worsen:
One of the most difficult things about being a dog owner is seeing your dog in pain. But with help from your vet and a dash of patience, you are sure to find a course of long-term treatment that manages your dog’s pain and improves his quality of life. Your best pal may not bound to the door to greet you like he once did, but the two of you will still have plenty of joyful, tail-wagging days ahead.
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