Understanding And Treating Your Dog's Arthritis
Bringing a dog into your home is exciting, but many people are not ready for the physical, emotional, and financial responsibilities that are necessary to care for this new family member. From feeding and grooming to training and vaccinating, it is easy to see the challenges of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Even with proper care, your dog may develop painful conditions that limit their mobility as they age. Since 20 percent of middle-aged dogs and 90 percent of senior dogs develop osteoarthritis, understanding this joint disorder is key to maintaining your own dog's health and wellness. With this guide and the help of your veterinarian, you will learn the signs of arthritis and the best options to treat your dog's condition.
Common Signs of Canine Arthritis
As a dog ages, they will most likely slow down, sleeping more and moving less. While this behavior is a natural part of aging, certain signs may stem from the development of arthritis. If your dog shows the following signs, consult your veterinarian to determine if they have this painful condition:
- Difficulty running, walking, and jumping
- Hunchback position
- Lameness in one or more legs
- Fatigue, sleeping more than usual
- Irritable or aggressive behavior
- Excessive chewing or licking of the joints
It is important to note that some dog breeds are naturally inactive, sluggish, and sleepy. Arthritis can affect mastiffs, chow chows, basset hounds, pugs, and bulldogs, but noticing the signs of joint pain in these lazier breeds is a bit more difficult.
Once your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, the veterinarian will most likely prescribe a series of medications to ease pain in hopes of improving your dog's mobility.
NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, reduce inflammation in your dog's joints. Types of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and Rimadyl.
Steroids are also an option to reduce your dog's arthritic pain, since they reduce inflammation while relieving swelling around the joints. While effective for pain relief, long term use of steroids can actually damage your dog's joints further.
Your dog can find relief from arthritic pain in natural ways, as well. To get started, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise.
Jogging or walking long distances may be difficult for your dog, but ensuring they exercise each day will prevent further damage to their joints. If your dog is overweight, they will experience excessive pain due to the extra pressure on their joints. Exercise will help your dog reach or maintain a healthy weight, reducing inflammation due to arthritis.
Diet plays a large role in your dog's physical health, since certain foods can increase inflammation in the joints. Avoid foods that contain potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. These ingredients aggravate arthritis. Using a food with a decreased amount of grains is also smart for helping alleviate pain and swelling of your dog's joints.
Incorporating supplements into your dog's diet is also helpful. Here are a few supplements that will improve your dog's arthritis:
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin– Glucosamine and chondroitin are both effective for reducing pain, but they also help restore the function of your dog's joints. Every 12 hours, give your dog 500 mg of glucosamine and 400 mg of chondroitin for every 25 pounds that they weigh.
- Fish Oil – Your dog should take a fish oil supplement that contains 20 mg to 55 mg combined EPA and DHA per pound of body weight to reduce joint inflammation and pain. Fish oil is not only effective for easing arthritic pain, but it also improves the health of your dog's skin and coat.
Watching your dog live with arthritis can be overwhelming, but proper understanding of this condition will teach you how to help your dog. Using this guide, you can diagnose and treat your dog's arthritis. Contact an animal hospital in your area for more advice.