Arthritis in your Vail Valley Pets!
Sitting Stiff-Canine Arthritis and What To Do About It
Have you started noticing your older dog slowing down, showing an unwillingness to jump in or out of the car, or exhibiting stiff movements? If so, your furry friend may be exhibiting signs of arthritic changes in their joints. Just as our joints start to become inflamed and painful when we get older, our pets’ joints undergo similar changes. This may happen sooner than we realize, due to the fact that dogs age exponentially faster that humans. It depends on whether the dog is a small or large breed, however, on average a 10 year-old dog is between 56-78 years-old in human years. At that age, we expect to see some stiffness and pain in our own joints, and the same issue arises in our faithful companions.
Limping and having difficulty sitting or standing are signs indicating joint pain that seem obvious and that most people recognize as a problem. However, there are other signs your dog may exhibit at home that may not be quite so apparent. Some of these can include attitude or behaviour changes, sleeping more, decreased activity or interest in playing, and being less alert. If your dog has any of these symptoms for over two weeks, the next best step to determining the cause is to take them to their veterinarian for an exam and further evaluation. This is the way to determine if arthritis is the true culprit causing your dog discomfort, and you and your veterinarian can come up with the best treatment plan.
Treatment for arthritis in canines is similar to treatment in humans. Some basic lifestyle changes can go a long way in making your dog’s day-to-day life more comfortable and more enjoyable. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are very important to maintain ideal body weight, since obesity puts more stress and pressure on the joints. A joint-specific mobility diet is a great way to ensure that your pet is consuming food that contains supplements that improve joint health. Over the counter supplements such as fish oils, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate contain beneficial properties such as omega fatty acids and compounds found in cartilage that cushion joints. These can be found as pills, capsules, or tasty chewable treats for your dog.
There are also medications that your veterinarian can prescribe to help with osteoarthritis. Anti-inflammatory medications such as non-steroidal drugs are commonly used to help manage the pain caused by the inflammatory effects of this disease. Depending on the age and overall health of your pet, your veterinarian may recommend performing a blood panel before starting any medications that are processed by the liver and kidneys, to ensure your dog is able to safely metabolize these drugs. Another treatment that has been shown to be very efficacious is Adequan. This is an injectable formula that is the only FDA-approved disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug that can help renew and replenish joint lubrication and the base structure of the joint cartilage. The benefit to this form of treatment is that instead of treating the clinical signs of arthritis, this treats the actual disease itself.
In the end, osteoarthritis in dogs is a progressive disease that can cause pain in your pet’s life. It is our job as their pet parents to make sure that they lead the most comfortable life possible. If you can recognize the signs of arthritis in your dog and work with your veterinary team to provide the appropriate management steps, you can make their years happy and healthy.