As humans age, wear and tear in the joints is something that we eventually have to deal with. This aging process also affects dogs and is called osteoarthritis or dog arthritis. Osteoarthritis in dogs is a degenerative joint disease that is common with older dogs and is usually characterized by swelling and pain in the joints.
What Are The Causes?
This pain and swelling is the result of deterioration in the cartilage that surrounds and protects the joints. Once this protective layer is thinned, the bones will touch and rub together and result in pain. As with humans, osteoarthritis is a result of old age, but can be linked to old injuries caused by trauma or other existing conditions, like diabetes.
How To Tell If Your Dog Has Osteoarthritis
You really need to be in tuned with your dog’s behavior because most dogs have a higher threshold of pain and will lie down and not budge. A noticeable sign of osteoarthritis in dogs is a shift or change in their normal walk as they put less weight on aching joints and more weight on other limbs.
Your dog may have difficulty standing, walking or engaging in some normal activities. Some obvious signs are stiffness and the inability to climb stairs. Other signs may include the constant licking of swollen limbs or areas.
If you suspect your dog has osteoarthritis, you need to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will take x-rays and run several tests to check for range of motion in the joints. Some vets may recommend using a CT scan or MRI to ensure proper diagnosis, since these types of scans can provide the best imaging in the joints.
Once osteoarthritis is confirmed, treatment may include medication, like painkillers to reduce dog pain and inflammation, as well as therapy. Physical therapy can improve the range of motion in the joints, and alleviate discomfort. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to alleviate the pain and stabilize and improve joint function or slow down the condition.
Aging is something that humans and animals cannot avoid, but there are a few things we can do to slow down the process. Always monitor your dogs weight and make sure he gets a good amount of exercise. Monitor any injuries that can occur and any signs of trauma to the limbs and bones.
Osteoarthritis in dogs is a progressive disease that only gets worse with time. Fortunately, proper diagnosis and treatment can help keep your dog live a pain free life.