How to Help a Dog With Arthritis
The body is pretty amazing, and it is incredible what it can do. Despite all of its abilities, though, it is not infallible. Time, general wear and tear, and injury can definitely affect performance. Osteoarthritis is a common diagnosis in our patients at The Bluffs Pet Clinic. It is also a diagnosis that, while not curable, has a wide variety of treatment options available. Treating arthritis in dogs does not have a one-size-fits-all prescription, but in most situations, our veterinarians can find some combination of treatment options to help all of our patients live happy and functional lives.
Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis in dogs can be a serious problem. Also sometimes called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, this condition is caused by the deterioration of the normal surfaces and structures within a joint.
A joint is a place where two bones meet. Cushioned by slippery joint fluid and squishy cartilage and stabilized by soft tissue structures like ligaments, joints allow our pets to move and function normally.
Arthritis can affect any joint in the body. Oftentimes, joint degeneration occurs over time as the pet ages as a part of normal wear and tear. injury to a joint or joints, poor confirmation, or congenital problems like hip dysplasia can also accelerate the development of arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs can vary depending on the severity and location of the problem. Affected pets may be:
- Slow to rise
- Reluctant to move
- Less willing to participate in activity
- Stiff, especially when first getting up
- Lame in one or more legs
- Less enthusiastic about things they have enjoyed previously
- Losing muscle
Once arthritis has affected a joint, there is no cure. That doesn’t mean, though, that we are totally helpless against this process.
Options for Treating Arthritis in Dogs
Thankfully at this point in time, we have lots of options when it comes to helping a dog with arthritis. Once the diagnosis is made, there are a plethora of treatment options including natural remedies for arthritis that we can use, often in combination, to help our canine companions.
A treatment plan for arthritis in dogs might consist of several of the following:
- Weight management: Excess weight can exacerbate the development and progression of arthritis. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is often key in treating arthritis in dogs.
- Nutraceutical recommendations: Many nutritional supplements have been shown to provide some benefit in arthritic joints. Oral glucosamine/chondroitin options, omega-3 fatty acids, injectable hyaluronic acid supplements, polysulfated glycosaminoglycans, and many others can be utilized to help the arthritic pet.
- Prescription medications: Prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and other adjunctive medications are often useful in helping dogs with arthritis achieve and maintain better comfort and mobility.
- Holistic treatments: Natural remedies for arthritic dogs can also be a helpful component of disease management. Options such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, Tui Na (massage), therapeutic laser, and targeted pulse electromagnetic field therapy may all be used for pain management and joint support.
- Functional assistance: When it comes to ways to help a dog with arthritis, helping them to maintain mobility is paramount. From utilizing ramps and stairs to improving traction with things like throw rugs, yoga mats, and toe grips, helping your pet keep moving is important. Some dogs also benefit from the assistance of a well-fitted harness.
If you are wondering how to help a dog with arthritis, it is important to realize that success is largely a team effort. While there is a lot our veterinary team can do to help, as a pet owner, an active role at home is key.
Please contact us if you feel that your pet is suffering from arthritis. We are ready to get started to help you find a way to help your individual pet be functional, comfortable, and happy.