Arthritis And Joint Pain In dogs

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When you notice a difference in your dog’s ability to move this may be the first sign of joint pain.  You may notice he is walking stiffly.  Perhaps he is having difficulty climbing stairs or getting in the truck or jumping on the couch.  He may no longer enjoy being petted and he may not be as friendly.  You may notice some of his joints are swollen.  Joint pain in dogs is caused either by a developmental problem or a degenerative problem.

Developmental problems may include problems such as hip dysphasia.  This occurs when the joints don’t grow properly and become dysfunctional.  The condition may be more evident in certain breeds and is more prevalent in pure breed dogs.

Degenerative problems such as osteoarthritis usually are found in older dogs.  The wear and tear on the joints over a long period of time may be the cause of the arthritis.  It is important to maintain your dog at a healthy weight or perhaps even a little leaner.  The more weight the dog carries the harder it is on his joints.

Old sad dog

In some cases joint problems may need to be treated with surgery or even a joint replacement is possible.  In other cases medication may be required to handle the problem and help reduce pain and swelling..  Perhaps a vet physical therapist can develop a treatment plan and/or perhaps acupuncture may be beneficial.  Your veterinarian is the best person to develop a treatment program for your dog.

Moderate exercise is helpful since it will maintain joint flexibility and keep muscle mass. Jumping or standing on the back legs should be discouraged.  Swimming is an excellent way to improve the muscle mass without stressing joints.  Even if the dog goes into remission vigorous activity should still be discouraged since it may injure joints.  Cold and damp surfaces will increase the pain and stiffness in your dog’s joints.

Additives such as glucosamine/chondratin may help if your dog already has arthritis.  It does not prevent arthritis. You might also consider something like fish oil which is anti-inflammatory.  Discuss any additives you plan to give your dog with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

You can try to prevent joint problems or prolong the time before their onset by keeping  your dog at his healthy weight.  Be sure he is eating good food, getting enough vitamins, and getting regular exercise.  Have your vet evaluate your dog’s joints each year.  Sometimes if the problem is caught early you may be able to either prevent it from becoming a serious problem later.