As your pup grows older, one of the most common health issues they may face is Osteoarthritis. Resulting in pain and lowered mobility, this inflammation in their joints can have a huge effect on your pup’s quality of life if left unmanaged. While there is no clear cure to this condition, identifying the issue early can effectively manage the condition and its symptoms. Let’s take a look at what osteoarthritis is, the symptoms of osteoarthritis and how it can be managed.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, Osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage in your dog’s joints. In healthy joints, cartilage helps your pup’s joints move smoothly by acting as a cushion. But over time, this protective cushion breaks down, resulting in the pain and inflammation associated with Osteoarthritis. This can be a result of old age, injury, disease or repetitive stress from high-impact activities.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The largest symptoms of Canine Osteoarthritis is pain and activity impairment. Dog back pain and joint pain are major dog pain symptoms and often point to Osteoarthritis. In turn, joint pain can then result in activity impairment. Your pup could be more reluctant to exercise or play. They may also experience stiffness in their limbs and an inability to jump.
Another sign of arthritis is a change in the way they move. Known as “bunny-hopping”, your dog may start using both hind legs together instead of one at the time when they’re running or going up the stairs. They may also sit differently, with their legs stiff and not bent close to the body as they should be. “Bunny-hopping” is also a sign of Canine Hip Dysplasia, which can be caused by senior dog arthritis in dogs’ hips.
In order to manage joint disease in dogs, it’s important to understand the risk factors of Osteoarthritis. Here are some risk factors that predispose your pup to arthritis:
- Large breeds like Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs
- Middle to senior age
- Athletic activities like agility or flyball that causes repetitive stress
- Pre-existing injuries like fractures or ligament tears
- Infections like Lyme Disease
If your dog is more susceptible to arthritis, it’s vital to stay up-to-date with regular visits to your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to help manage your pup’s weight and ensure they have a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, they can help catch signs of Osteoarthritis early. If your pup does have Osteoarthritis, your vet may prescribe physical therapy, diet changes, and even acupuncture or cold lasers for your pup.
But most importantly, Osteoarthritis management can be achieved by managing your pup’s weight carefully. This is achieved via a healthy diet and plenty of low-impact exercise like leashed walks. In fact, leashed walks can help build muscles around your pup’s joints and promote joint stability. Avoid running or jumping too much, especially as your pup grows older!
Joint supplements for dogs, especially senior dogs, are a great way to boost your pup’s joint health. Often containing glucosamine or chondroitin, supplements like Grandma Lucy's can reduce inflammation and give their joints and mobility a good boost.
Your dog’s diet can also affect their joint health! Food like Stella & Chewy’s Hip & Joint Boost is crafted with guaranteed levels of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Omega-3 fatty acids that make a great difference to your pup's hip and joint health.
Pain management for dogs via joint pain relief medication known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are another important method of symptom management. But for more serious cases, surgical management can also help address the root cause of the problem if it is due to ligament ruptures, etc.
Osteoarthritis can be a painful condition for our pups, but with love and care, it can be managed and even prevented to some degree. Most importantly, help your pup maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle and identify signs of joint pain as early as you can.
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.