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Arthritis In Dogs. Causes, Signs & Treatment

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Arthritis is increasingly more common place amongst dogs, particularly older dogs or large breeds, however younger dogs are also susceptible to this inflammation of the joints.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) is the most common form of this painful condition in dogs.

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the end of the bones breaks down and hence hinders the once smooth movement of joints. This wear results in inflammation stiffness and pain. The stability of the joints also becomes compromised.

Causes of Arthritis In Dogs

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is the most common form seen in dogs and is the result of chronic wear and tear. DJD is more often seen in medium to large dogs where their size puts the joints under more stress.

Other causes of arthritic pain and inflammation include the following:

  • Congenital joint problems (e.g.,hip dysplasia, luxating patella & Wobbler's syndrome). Problems caused by the abnormal joint development in the young dog,  these abnormalities go on to cause  joint instability and arthritis later on.
  • Inflammatory joint disease (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis). Common in humans, but less often seen in dogs, caused by the animal's own immune system attacking the joint.
  • Injury (e.g., ruptured cruciate ligament, fractures involving the joint). Injured joints may become unstable,  this instability in turn causes wear and tear to resulting in arthritis.
  • Infection (e.g., Septic arthritis, lyme disease,). Bacteria invade the joint, causing inflammation.

Signs of Arthritis

Your dog’s movements may become stiff and disjointed. Often worse when your dog gets up from a rest, they may try not to place any weight on the effected limb.

Arthritis is not a sharp severe pain so don't expect your dog to cry out, it is more of a chronic and dull pain. For this reason the effects of arthritis can sometimes be mistakenly put down to being part of the natural aging process.

Cold and damp conditions tend to enhance the painful symptoms of arthritis, therefore your dog may seek out warm and comfortable soft places.

Treatment of Arthritis In Dogs. 

In severe cases surgery may be carried out where there is join injury or congenital joint disease. Indeed hip replacements are becoming increasingly available for dogs suffering from conditions such as hip dysplasia.

There are a few lifestyle changes that can be implemented in order to ease the discomfort of and better manage arthritits.

  1. Increased exercise

Increased levels of low impact exercise carried out with proper warm ups and cool downs can actually work to improve the overall mobility of your dog. Stiffness is improved and as is supporting muscle straightness.

  1. Weight management

Getting your dog to slim down can be an important part of the process to relieve the joint stress caused by DJD. Consult your veterinarian to find out if weight loss is firstly appropriate in your dog’s case, if so they will be able to supply you with an appropriate weight loss program.

  1. Make life more convenient

Installing ramps to remove the need to go up steps is effective in removing stress from the body as is elevating feeding stations where your dog suffers from neck or back problems. Perhaps the most effective way of alleviate your dog’s pain is to invest in a well-constructed orthopedic dog bed.

The Future for Arthritic Dogs

Whilst arthritis isn’t curable, the long term effects of this ailment can be managed to such an extent that the effected dog can go on to have a good quality of life for many years to come.

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