Arthritis is derived from artho (joint) and it itis (inflammation), both of which are Greek words. It is estimated that about 30% of Australian dogs are affected by this condition in some form or the other. Your dog may be diagnosed with DJD (Degenerative joint disease) or OA (osteoarthritis).
Factors that can contribute to arthritis in dogs
Arthritis is generally caused by instability of the joints as well as regular wear and tear. However, there are a number of other factors that contribute to this condition such as:
Understanding what arthritis is
The joints that are most commonly affected include the elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips. All joints in the body have a smooth cartilage cover which allows the free movement of adjoining bones with the assistance of Synovial fluid (lubricating liquid). The cartilage and also offers a cushioning effect to the bones.
In dogs that suffer from arthritis, there is deterioration of the cartilage covering the joints and the lubricating fluid loses its efficacy. These conditions cause the bones to become rough and they begin to rub against each other. The movements result in a significant amount of discomfort and cause even more damage to the cartilage.
Arthritis- the sign to look out for
Most dogs are quite resilient and the signs of discomfort or pain may not be evident right away. However, the common symptoms to look out for include:
Next steps to take
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a thorough check-up. X-rays and a comprehensive physical examination will determine if your pet has arthritis. While it is normal for you to feel dejected, there is hope. Arthritis can be managed and controlled effectively in a number of ways.
Helping your dog manage arthritis
1. Managing the pain
At the outset, your vet would prescribe some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication. These help in alleviating discomfort, inflammation, and swelling. There are a number of highly potent herbal remedies that can help reduce the pain and inflammation as well.
2. Focusing on the right diet
There are certain foods that can help fight inflammation and these can help manage your dog’s condition. Some of the dietary changes you can make include:
Your vet may prescribe nutraceuticals. These supplements that help provide some relief to dogs with arthritis. They help with symptoms such as inflammation and improve mobility. Some of the effective supplements include Green-lipped mussels, Joint strong, K9 Power, Techneyflex and Tuffrock Joint Formula.
This is a very important aspect in the treatment of arthritic dogs. You need to keep your pet exercising, taking care that their muscles aren’t stressed too much. With this in view, hydrotherapy becomes an excellent exercise option because it:
5. Weight Management
If your dog is arthritic, it’s very important to ensure he or she has a normal weight. The heavier your dog the more load and strain on the joints. This results in pain, discomfort and more inflammation and speeds up the progress of arthritis even further. If you want to successfully manage arthritis in your dog, weight reduction is something you need to focus on.
6. Massage or physical therapies
Visiting a massage therapist, physiotherapist or canine osteopath can benefit your dog. Massages are a good way of increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected areas. In addition, these massage and physiotherapy sessions can help improve muscle tone, joint flexibility, and range of motion too. Some of the other alternative therapies that have proven to be effective in providing relief in arthritis are hot and cold therapy, photonic therapy and acupuncture.
7. Toe Grips and harnesses
If your dog is slipping on smooth floors or floorboards, you can give provide some traction. Toe grips are a good solution as they help your pet place their feet correctly on the floor and get a firmer grip. You will find a number of well-designed harnesses that can help your dog get into the car or walk up & down stairs, without you having to do any heavy lifting.
8. Home aids and home improvements
You can use a supportive orthopaedic memory foam bed for your arthritic dog. This type of bed provides good support and comfort. Your dog will feel more rested and will be able to get in and out of bed easily. You can get movable ramps for helping your pet get in and out of the car or even to climb up and down stairs. This will save you some effort and help reduce the stress on your dog’s muscles and joints.
9. Portable doggie stairs
These aids are great for smaller dogs that prefer sitting on a couch or lounge when you are watching your favorite show on television. This little staircase is the perfect alternative to them jumping up to sit beside you.
10. Heat pads
These are a great option for older dogs during the colder months. You can place the heat pads under their mattress. The heat radiated provides some comfort to their joints during cold nights.
Now it's up to you
As you can see, there are a number of things that can be done to manage arthritis in your dog. And it isn’t as difficult or challenging as it is made out to be. If the vet has diagnosed that your dog has arthritis, you would have to make some conscious changes to his or her lifestyle at the outset. This will take some adjusting in the initial stages, but your dog will eventually get used to it over time and it will become a normal part of their daily routine.
Never miss out on scheduled visits to your therapist or vet. Include some mobility supplements and aids to help them move around more comfortably. Watch your dog’s weight and ensure they get regular exercises or swimming sessions. Most dogs simply love the latter and look forward to their weekly swims and hydrotherapy sessions.
Contact the experts
We at K9 Swim Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre have a number of products in stock such as:
Not only will this help your pet maintain mobility, but will keep their body weight in check too. Richmond Tafe offers excellent massage courses; these courses give you the opportunity to learn the different types of techniques you can use to massage your dog; this goes a long way in managing arthritic conditions.
For more information about our hydrotherapy and other services, feel free to browse our website.
Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.