Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. This is a common condition for dogs as they age, and it can be a painful disease that severely impacts their quality of life. Luckily, there are ways to manage and treat osteoarthritis in dogs.
In this article, the team at Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital is exploring the latest methods of managing and treating this condition.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Degenerative joint disease is defined as the progressive and permanent deterioration of cartilage that surrounds the joints. In dogs, this can be especially painful due to their active nature. Arthritis is the term for inflammation of the joints whereas Osteoarthritis refers to chronic joint inflammation that is caused by the cartilage deteriorating.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs include:
- Stiffness, lameness or problems standing
- Consistent tiredness
- Reluctance to jump, play or run
- Sudden or gradual weight gain
- Irritability or other changes in behaviour
- Pain when touched or patted
- Difficulty urinating or defecating
- Having accidents in the house
- Loss of muscle mass in the limbs and spine
The Causes of Arthritis in Dogs
Although there has been extensive research on the topic, there is no known direct cause of degenerative joint disorder. Some factors that play a part in worsening the disorder are sudden trauma, abnormal wear on the joints and cartilage, and a congenital defect at birth such as hip dysplasia.
Another factor that worsens arthritis is obesity because it increases the stress on the joints. Dogs with diabetes, hyperlaxity (loose joints), and prolonged steroid treatments may be at a higher risk of osteoarthritis.
Diagnosing and Treating Arthritis in Dogs
In order to diagnose arthritis in your dog, our specialists will assess the history of their symptoms and conduct a complete physical examination. During the examination, we look for a decreased range of motion, stiff-legged gait, deformed joints, swelling or signs of pain.
Treatments for osteoarthritis are designed to control the symptoms, not to cure the condition as this is impossible. If your dog is found to have osteoarthritis, there are a few treatments that we may suggest trying, including:
- Reconstructive surgery or joint removal/replacements
- Physical therapy – motion exercises, swimming and massage
- Exercises to strengthen the muscles
- Cold and heat therapy for managing pain
- Long-term medicine to reduce swelling and inflammation
How to Manage Your Dog’s Osteoarthritis
Make sure you continue to monitor your dog’s symptoms, noticing when they appear to worsen. Limit their activity level so they don’t aggravate the affected areas. Finally, introducing a diet that is high in omega fatty acids may work to reduce inflammation.
The most important aspect to managing osteoarthritis in dogs is early diagnosis and prompt treatment. If you notice the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital immediately. You can call us on (02) 9521 6422 or contact us online.