What is Arthritis?
One in 5 dogs will develop some form of arthritis. Arthritis is common in large breeds, however, some smaller breeds will develop arthritis from other diseases such as diabetes, obesity and metabolic disorders. The most common is osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. As dogs age, their bones or cartilage in their joints begin to thin. This cartilage protects the bones in the joint. If the cartilage is too thin, the bones rub together and break down… similar to humans. It is this rubbing of the bones that causes friction and with that, pain. Dogs tend to mask their pain which makes it difficult for you to tell what is wrong. If they could only tell us how they are feeling.
Arthritis can affect any joint in your dogs body, but the most common spots are hips, elbows, knees, wrists, shoulders, ankles and lower back.
Here are some signs to watch for:
- Stiffness, especially after resting
- A struggle to get up from a sitting or laying position
- Depression or other changes in personality
- Whining due to pain
- Reluctance to jump or be active
- Walking slowly or limping
- May have accidents in the house
First things first. A visit to your vet is #1 on the list. Your vet may prescribe a pain medicine, anti inflammatory drug, steroids or non steroidal drugs can be added to the regime. In some cases, acupuncture, ultrasound and laser therapy has had some effect. I have heard some parents giving their dog CBD to reduce pain. Just as in humans, dogs can undergo surgery to replace a bad joint.
What You Can Do at Home
Weight management is #1. When a dog shows symptoms of arthritis, he does not want to walk very much. With this lack of exercise, he is prone to weight gain which puts a lot of stress and strain on inflamed joints. It is very important to take your dog on several short walks if one long walk is not in order to give your dog some exercise. Talk to your vet regarding a change in food plan.
With vet approval, supplements such as Glucosamine with MSM for dogs and Chondroitin may help to strengthen bones. Some pet parents are finding CBD is easing pain.
Give your dog a comfortable place to rest or sleep. A firm ortho bed will aid in getting up easier. Make sure his bed has a rubberized bottom to prevent slipping on hard surface floors when he tries to get up. I know first hand how hard it was to see my Apollo try to get up after resting. It made me cry. Once we took him to his vet, his life was better with the meds prescribed for his pain. We had to keep an eye on his kidneys however, becasue of side effects of the meds.
If our dogs could only talk and tell us how they are feeling, we would know better how to care for them when they are not well. Since we only have body language as a guide, it is important to understand their body signals to better understand them.