Arthritis and Your Dog
Arthritis is a very common
disease, particularly in older, larger dogs. However, all dogs, at
any age, are
vulnerable to developing arthritis. Arthritis is basically the deterioration
of the cartilage between the joints. Most dogs will develop some
form of arthritis in their lifetime. Sometimes the arthritis will
be unnoticeable in the dog and sometimes the arthritis will be so debilitating
that it causes complete inability to walk and severely affects the
quality of life. Signs generally do not develop until later in
life, although, some do develop signs early in life. The most
common signs of arthritis are:
Favoring a limb,
especially after sleeping
Difficulty or inability to
Reluctance to walk, jump,
playing, or climbing stairs
Becoming more aggressive,
particularly when touched
Medical treatment for
arthritis has greatly advanced in the last several years. There
are many more supplements, medicine, and occasionally surgery that
is available to help treat the pain and to heal the damage.
Once your dog is diagnosed
with arthritis the next step is to decide, along with your vet,
which treatment is best. Usually drug therapy is the first choice.
There are several over the counter products that you can use to
help treat the arthritis. Some helpful products are:
Buffered aspirin - this
helps with the pain, it does not actually help to repair the
cartilage. Prolonged use may cause problems. Discuss with your
vet the appropriate dose for your dog.
chondroitin - these two drugs are widely used in both animal
and human medicine. Glucosamine and chondroitin actually
repair damaged cartilage. Both of the products take about six
weeks before they start working. They are very safe and have
very few side effects. When picking a glucosamine and
chondroitin supplement, try to stick with human grade
formulas, as quality can vary widely between products. Discuss
with you vet the appropriate dosage for your dog.
SamE - Recently, SamE has
been reportedly been successfully used to promote healthy
joint and help with pain relief. Although, nothing has yet
been confirmed to support this statement. SamE is also being
used as a treatment for liver disease in dogs.
MSM - MSM is reported to
enhance the structural integrity of the connective tissue and
help reduce scar tissue. MSM has been promoted as having a
powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties.
Deramaxx, Ketoprofen, and Meloxicam - these are prescription
drugs available through your vet. These are classified as
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They are all
strong and effective painkillers. Because of the potential
side effects, careful dosing and monitoring must be done. It
is often recommended to have your dog tested before hand for
liver and kidney functions, also during treatment tests should
be periodically done to ensure that the liver and kidneys are
not being compromised. Do not use any NSAID with aspirin
therapy. These drugs should be used with extreme caution.
There are also non-medical
treatments that are available to help your dog be more
comfortable. These include:
Weight loss - many dogs
that have arthritis are overweight. Maintaining proper weight
will not only benefit the arthritis, it will also make the
overall health of your dog increase. Also, any medical,
supplemental, or surgical method that you decide to use will
be more effective if the dog is at his proper weight.
Exercise - exercise
provides a good range of motion and muscle building and limits
wear and teat on the joints. Try to pick low impact exercises
that does not put too much strain on the joints. For example.
leash walking and swimming. Your dog may enjoy Frisbee, but,
it is incredibly hard on the joints. Therefore, this should be
Good bed - an firm,
orthopedic foam bed helps many dogs with arthritis. It helps
to provide support for your dog by evenly distributing weight
and reducing pressure on his joints.
Warm environment -many
people claim that when it is cold and damp, their arthritis is
worsened. So, keeping your dog in a warm and dry place may
help to alleviate some pain from arthritis. Make sure not to
place your dog in a situation where he can become too hot.
Massage or physical
therapy - your vet can show you how to perform massage or
physical therapy on your dog to help relax stiff muscles and
promote a good range of movement in his joints. It is
important to go slowly and be gentle with him. Remember, he is
Make daily activities less
painful - going up and down stairs can be very painful. It can
make doing normal, everyday activities tough, such as, eating,
drinking, urinating, and defecating. Building a ramp will help
your dog go up and down stairs and to make it easier to go
outside. Using elevated feeders will help eating and drinking
easier for your dog, particularly if there is stiffness in his
neck or back.
No matter what treatment you
choose, a combination of treatments will generally work best.
Also, it is important to discuss with your vet what treatments
would be best for your arthritic dog.
This site and its contents are intended to
serve as basic informational purposes
--not a substitute for--
professional veterinary care!