Dog Arthritis

As dogs age they begin to have some wear and tear on their joints. Although arthritis does not cause death, watching that once frisky puppy struggle to get up or become fearful of stairs is heartbreaking for dog owners. This is just as common an ailment in canines as it is in humans.

When pets get older, an owner should keep an eye out for changes in behavior and activity levels. A dog cannot say what hurts, and it is up to people to interpret their actions. Arthritis causes pain when an animal changes position. Instead of flopping down or jumping up, they ease themselves into a new position. They play less or seem to be in sore afterwards. This lessening of exercise causes weight gain. The weight gain, in turn, puts additional stress on the already sore joints. Pain and a lack of self-confidence caused by pain may even cause an otherwise friendly dog to become a bit snippy. Unusual aggression or shyness is always a cause for concern in pets, because there is usually some underlying physical cause.

There is no way to prevent arthritis. Some dogs are genetically predisposed to this condition while others may suffer an injury that may lead to arthritis later in life. The only defense is to know the symptoms and get a dog in for treatment as soon as they begin to show the signs of this disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment means less suffering for a beloved pet.

Diagnosis is the first step in dealing with canine arthritis. Only a veterinarian can tell for sure what exactly is causing an animal’s discomfort. A vet will do an examination and a few x-rays to find out if the dog’s problem is arthritis or something else. Once the diagnosis is complete, the veterinarian will determine the best course of action to make an older dog comfortable and happy.

Treatment for canine arthritis is much the same as in humans, but one should never give human medication to dogs. Human drugs or dosages are dangerous instead of helpful for animals. Anti-inflammatory medication helps to ease swollen joints. A weight loss program for overweight dogs helps minimize the stresses on joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements help to relieve discomfort and slow the progression of arthritis. Gentle exercise or physical therapy helps to keep an older dog more flexible. Keep the dog’s veterinarian informed of what works and what does not. This will help the vet to tailor a treatment plan for a particular dog.

Larger dogs are often more prone to joint disorders. Taller dogs, those with heavy builds or those with long backs are the most likely candidates for canine arthritis. These exaggerated features that people breed for create undue stress on joints. Smaller dogs are vulnerable as well. As many as one in five dogs will become afflicted with arthritis. As dogs get better medical care, they are living longer. This longer lifespan means that there is more time for life to take its toll on the body.

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