Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Osteoarthritis is a very common problem in older dogs but can often go undiagnosed for some time. Dogs don’t always show obvious signs that they have painful joints, they will rarely vocalise pain.
Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory and degenerative condition, which leads to cartilage damage and irregular new bone forming within the joints. These joints become painful and as the disease progress the arthritis will restrict joint movement.
Some dogs can appear very obviously lame but others show much more subtle symptoms. Just because your dog isn’t lame doesn’t mean it’s not feeling discomfort due to arthritis. More subtle signs of osteoarthritis include:
- Reluctance to exercise, or slower pace when exercising
- Stiffness when trying to stand, usually most noticeable after a long period of rest
- Difficulty jumping into the car or climbing stairs
- Licking/chewing at joints
If you have noticed any of these symptoms in your dog then contact your local branch to arrange a vet appointment. We will assess your dog’s mobility and joints and advise you of the best management.
Dependant on the severity of the condition we may advise any of the following:
- Weight reduction – If your dog is overweight then the diseased joints are forced to carry a heavier load, this not only increases the level of pain felt but it can also cause the arthritis to develop more rapidly.
- Exercise management – Exercise is still important but must be tailored to suit the individual. Too much exercise and your dog will likely become lame but without daily exercise your dog is more likely to gain weight as well as missing out on one of their favourite parts of the day. Your vet can help to advise you on the level and type of exercise that should be suitable for your dog.
- Joint supplements ie. Glucosamine – available in many different forms these supplements help to improve the condition of the joint cartilage healthy and therefore increase joint comfort. These can be used alone in early stages of osteoarthritis or as a combination therapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Supplements are available over the counter at all our branches either as chewable treat tablets (Seraquin or Yumove) or a complete diet (Hills JD or Royal Canin Mobility). If you are unsure which would best suit your dog then ask a member of our nursing team for advice.
- Pain relief / Anti-inflammatory medication – Often in the form of NSAIDs, these medications reduce inflammation in the joint making it less painful. As osteoarthritis develops it can become necessary for dogs to require daily NSAID treatment to keep them pain free. These medications are prescription only so you will need to have your dog examine by a vet before this treatment can be started.
- Acupuncture – We have two vets qualified to practice acupuncture. Visit our acupuncture page for more information on this treatment.
- Hydrotherapy – Brilliant for building and maintaining muscle mass which can be a key part of coping with osteoarthritis, as well as being a lot of fun for your dog. There are a number of hydrotherapy centres in the area, please ask a member of our reception team for details of local centres.
Identifying and managing osteoarthritis at an early stage can slow its progression, so your dog can stay fitter for longer.