Canine Arthritis Symptoms and Home Treatment

old dog 3Getting out of bed needing more time? Waiting for a leg up to get in the car? Easy gallop becoming a stiff gait? Stairs being avoided? Sadly watching a thrown tennis ball instead of chasing it? Groans and sighs announcing the labour of lying down?

When second nature doggie activities become an effort, it's likely our old mates are experiencing some form of canine arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD).

It's estimated that 1 dog in every 5 over one year of age is affected by canine arthritis.

Although there are many types of canine arthritis, including developmental problems after injury, the most common form is age-related degenerative joint disease. DJD is simple wear and tear on your pet's joints over their lifetime.

Dog Arthritis Symptoms

Most symptoms arising from canine arthritis are related to pain.

The reparative nature of joints will often conceal problems in your pet's younger years that lead to arthritis later on. So, it can be a slow process before we notice complaints or changes.

The most common complaint is overt lameness, such as limping or loss of motion range.
Changes in activity-related behaviour including: having difficulty in rising, increased lethargy or vocalisations of pain are other possible signs.

Noticeable physical changes such as crackling joint sounds during movement or muscle atrophy (muscle wasting away) are also possible indications.

DJD is not the only condition that presents these symptoms so it's important to identify the causes of these changes. Your veterinarian can provide a physical examination of your dog's pain response and joint motion range and can provide information on treatment options.

What is Canine Arthritis?

It's a progressive condition causing pain from inflammation, affecting joint mobility. It causes damage to joint cartilage, bones and fluid.

Highly moveable joints are biological hinges comprising of 2 smooth surfaces at the ends of bones. These ends are formed with a cushion of cartilage and the space between the bones is filled by synovial fluid. The whole structure is held together by ligaments.

All of these components are capable of repair but as our pets age, (and us humans too!), cartilage tend to thin, there is less lubricating fluid around the joint area and ligaments can lose size and strength.

The most commonly affected joints are knee, hip, elbow, shoulder, spinal column and carpus.

Unfortunately there is no cure.

Dog Arthritis Home Treatment

When, canine arthritis or DJD is diagnosed, most treatment recommendations are intended to reduce pain and maintain joint mobility. A combination of treatments, with the least side effects, is often recommended for the most effective results.

Warm and well-padded bedding, non-skid floor coverings and ramp access are all home comforts that will ease mobility for your dog.

Massage and acupuncture (combined with supporting Chinese herbal formulations) can also be effective in stimulating blood flow to atrophying muscles as well as pain control.

Low impact exercise is essential for maintaining muscle mass whilst avoiding further stress on damaged joints. Suggested activities are leash walking or swimming and for the ultimate advantages in non-weight bearing activity, underwater treadmills are available.

Underwater treadmill

Reduce joint stress with careful weight management. If appropriate, you veterinarian can recommend a weight reduction and beneficial joint nutrition programme.

Pharmaceutical medications can include hip replacement surgery, synthetic opioid pain concealers, anti-inflammatory steroids, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and potent chondroprotective agent injections. Although immediately effective, many of these treatments increase the risk of side effects or require veterinarian prescribed medications to prevent other condition developments such as gastric problems.

Health supplements are foods or naturally occurring compounds that support or enhance body function and processes. Well known dog health supplements include: glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), omega 3, green lipped mussel and shark cartilage.

Green lipped mussel is a rich source of natural chondroitin, glucosamine and omega 3 which are all said to help to maintain and rebuild connective tissues such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Shark cartilage contains various joint mobility and connective tissue health supporting elements such as: amino acids, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, proteins, glycosaminaglycans, chondroitin sulphate and collagen.

It's important to try different combinations of treatments to find which works best for your dog. Each canine companion has different needs and when you find the most effective balance, you'll enjoy a renewed enthusiasm for walking your happy hound…even if it's raining.

O2B K9 + is highly palatable tablets, formulated to support the joint health, vitality and well-being of dogs including NZ marine ingredients: Green Lipped Mussel and Shark Cartilage.

O2B Feline + are very similar and formulated to support the joint health and well-being of cats.