If you have noticed that your once active dog does not run to the door every time the front bell rings, is much slower in getting up or takes much longer to walk his usual route then he could be developing arthritis.
Take your furry to the veterinary if you notice any of the above changes in the activity levels. An early detection of arthritis and proper intervention at the right time and right nutrition with right dog food will help in arresting the progress of the disease.
What is Canine Arthritis?
Arthritis is the most common joint disease in both humans and canines. Arthritis is a progressive degenerative disease of the bones and joints leading to impaired movement and pain. Dogs with arthritis experience severe and persistent pain in their effected joints leading to change in their gait, stance and movement of the body.
Dogs with arthritis suffer from one of the two different ailments. The first is the Degenerative Joint Disease (or Osteoarthritis). Osteoarthritis occurs due to gradual loss of cartilages that cushion the bones and joints. As the cartilages start to wear off, the bones start rubbing against each other leading to lot of pain in movement.
The second type of Canine Arthritis is the Inflammatory Joint Disease. This is not due to degeneration of cartilages but due to a bacterial or fungal infection, genetic deficiencies or certain kind of tick-borne infections.
In some dogs, arthritis is a secondary condition that develops due to an existing joint abnormality like an injury or trauma resulting in ligament rupture, spinal compression etc. This injury can hasten the onset of arthritis even in very young dogs.
Is Canine Arthritis Common?
Canine arthritis is very common especially in senior dogs. The slowdown of movement, fatigue, lack of appetite in your senior dogs could all be signs of arthritis setting in.
According to Arthritis Foundation, 20% of all adult dogs have arthritis. For dogs above 7 years of age, there is 65% chance that he has arthritis. More than half of all older dogs have arthritis.
Risk Factors for Canine Osteoarthritis:
There are several risk factors that decide whether your furry will have degenerative Canine Arthritis or not. The age, breed, sex and weight of your dog play an important role in this along with any genetic predisposition that he might have.
Studies have shown that male dogs are more predisposed to osteoarthritis than females. This is because of the difference in the sex hormones, activity levels and body weight between males and females of the same breed.
Some studies have also shown that neutered dogs are more predisposed to degenerative form of arthritis. This could be due to the reduction in the gonadal hormones that act against the onset of arthritis. Higher body weight in neutered dogs is also a reason for more neutered dogs showing signs of arthritis.
Many breeds have a higher predisposition to arthritis than the others. Larger breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Saint Bernard and English Mastiff are more prone to degenerative canine arthritis.
Obese dogs are more likely to develop arthritis. Studies have shown that dogs that eat uncontrolled dog diet demonstrate a higher risk of developing arthritic than those that eat a controlled, balanced dog food diet. This is because uncontrolled dog diet or processed dog food results in excess weight that is one of the main causes for Canine Arthritis.
Although arthritis can develop at any age but aging and senior dogs have a higher risk of developing it. The wear and tear of the joints and ligaments over the years is one of the most common causes of the degenerative form of Canine Arthritic and hips, elbows, stifle (knees in humans) are the most common joints that get affected.
The onset of arthritis can hasten due to the lifestyle of the dog, which includes exercise and dog food diet.
Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time when the disease actually set in, but in most cases clinical diagnosis does not happen until the disease reaches an advanced stage when the obvious changes in the pet are visible. In most cases, senior dogs, above the age of 8 get diagnosed by which time the disease has progressed a lot and they have suffered pain for years.
What are the Signs of Early Stage Canine Arthritis in Dogs?
It is important to keep an eye for any signs of onset of arthritis in your furry. Early detection and intervention of Canine Arthritis is critical for long, healthy and pain-free life of your furry. This will also help slow down the advancement of the disease and help in pain management and dog food diet.
Dogs with early stages of Canine Arthritis will show the following behavioral changes. If you notice any of these changes, then it is time to visit the veterinary for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Your dog is limping: Dogs limp for different reason but if you notice that, your dog limps frequently and has been doing it for more than a week then it could be due to the pain in the joints. The limping will be more prominent in the morning before the joints warm-up and then will gradually reduce as the day progresses. You may also notice that he favors one leg over the other while standing up or sitting down.
- Your dog does not want to play: If your dog does not want to do his usual rough housing and play his favorite game of fetch the there is certainly something bothering him and it could be the pain in his joints. If your usually playful and seemingly healthy dog wants to just lie around all day then it could be the onset on arthritis.
- Your dog is getting slower: If you dog is showing signs of slowing or is reluctant to move around as much then it could be the sign of early stages of arthritis. Other changes in behavior like difficulty in getting on the couch, going up and down the stairs, a change in gait, difficulty in getting in the car, not willing to jump or run during their walks are some of the signs that are red flags for the onset or arthritis.
- Your dog is hunching his back: Canine Arthritis can also affect the bones and joints of the spine leading to pain in the neck and back area. You will notice a hunched back or a strange posture while walking.
- Your dog gets tired easily: It is normal for dogs with arthritis to spend a lot of time sleeping or lying down. A little bit of running around will tire up your dog and lead to pain. Some young dogs with arthritis show sporadic bursts or excitement and energy and then lie down for hours due to pain and fatigue.
- Your dog is irritable: Just like humans, dogs also get irritable when in pain. If your dog snaps when you are trying to put a leash, groom him, pet him or play with him, then it is a sign that he is in pain.
- Your dog’s legs look thinner: When dogs have arthritis, they tend to move less due to pain. This leads to atrophy of the muscles of the legs and you will notice that your dog’s legs are looking thinner.
- Your dog is losing appetite: One of the most common signs of arthritis in dogs is decreased appetite. Pets in pain often do not feel like eating. The same dog food that he used to relish will lie un-noticed in his bowl.
- Your dog cannot get comfortable: Dogs with arthritis often shifts around a lot while settling in and do not seem to be able to find a comfortable position. This could be because of arthritis pain.
How can you treat Arthritis in Dogs?
As soon as you suspect arthritis in your dog, take him to a veterinary for a thorough diagnosis. Even though there is no cure for arthritis and it a progressive disease but your vet will recommend some treatment options and medications to manage the pain and arrest the progress of the disease to make your furry feel better.
- Keep your dog on a healthy weight: Excess weight and fat in your dog puts excess weight on the bones and joints. Joints and ligaments have to over stress to support the extra weight that adds to the arthritis pain. A Healthy Weight Management Program with a fresh and balanced dog food diet is the best way to keep the weight in check of arthritis dogs.
- Give medicine and supplements: Joint supplement, calcium supplements and pain relieve are some of the medicines that will help your dog manage the pain and improve bone and joint health. You should avoid self-medication and make sure to talk to your vet before starting any medicine. Often leg braces are also recommended to support the effected joint.
- Give him proper exercise: Regular exercise is important for dogs with arthritis. Low impact exercises like swimming, controlled jogging, underwater treadmill are some of the very effective exercises for arthritic dogs.
- Add turmeric paste to your dog’s diet: Turmeric is one of the best natural anti-inflammatory supplement that reduces arthritis pain. Make it a part of the dog diet and add the right dosage to the dog food every day. FurrMeals Golden Turmeric paste has the right combination of all natural ingredients to make it the best natural supplement for dogs with arthritis.
- Try therapy: Heat therapy, laser therapy, massage therapy and acupuncture are some of the therapies that your vet might recommend for your dog. See which one works best for your dog and get regular sessions to manage the pain.
Even though your dog has arthritis, which brings pain and discomfort but it does not mean that your dog should enjoy doing the things that he loves. Right intervention at the right time, moderate exercise, balanced and wholesome dog food will help manage the disease and he can lead an active, healthy and happy life.
Small changes in his dog food and exercise will go a long way in helping him live a full and active life.