Guest Post by Alex Saunders
Affecting more than 20% of all dogs over one year old, arthritis is the most common joint disease in dogs. Much like in humans, arthritis can make life difficult for your dog. Due to the sometimes unbearable joint pain, you may find that your dog is unable to complete simple tasks such as regular walks.
Types of Arthritis
Dogs are affected by multiple types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the most common. This is a type of arthritis that affects multiple – or even all – of the joints in the body, and it has multiple causes.
In the case of osteoarthritis, your dog’s joints rubbed together abnormally. This led to the cartilage eventually disappearing, leaving the joints to rub together painfully. This can be worsened if your dog has experienced an injury in his lifetime, especially to one of the limbs. You may also find that arthritis is just another part of aging in your dog.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs are very similar to those in humans. Due to the stiffness and pain, your dog will be more reluctant to engage in physical activity such as walking, going up stairs, and playing. Colder weather, dampness, and long periods of stillness will worsen the associated pain and stiffness.
Since your dog won’t be able to get around as easily anymore, you’ll find them sleeping more often and just experiencing general lethargy. This can also lead to weight gain and irritability, especially when touched. In extremely severe cases, your dog may begin to have accidents around the house since he will be unable to make it outside every time. If your dog is displaying any of the signs, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian about getting an x-ray for a possible diagnosis.
While curing arthritis isn’t possible, there are many things you can do to treat the associated signs and symptoms to help your dog enjoy life to the fullest.
Orthopedic Dog Bed
Sometimes, all your dog needs to feel better is a new bed. Most of the time, dogs sleep on the floor, furniture, or just a regular dog bed. This can put strain on the joints and pressure points, worsening the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Thankfully, there are dozens of options at a variety of prices so that you can pick the absolute best orthopedic dog bed for your arthritic dog. These beds, unlike regular dog beds, are made out of special memory foam designed to support your dog perfectly. After a few nights of good rest on one of these beds, you may find that your dog is feeling better and even greeting you at the door again.
Needles may seem like a painful option, but the ancient technique of acupuncture has surprising benefits. It can cause the body to completely relax while improving circulation, alleviating your dog’s symptoms of pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms. It can also cause the body to produce an increased amount of certain hormones that can aid in the healing process. While a single appointment won’t be enough to provide relief, multiple, regular appointments will allow your dog to experience lasting effects.
Before considering any type of pharmaceutical treatment, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian. Each medicine, like your dog, is unique, and some pose more risks of side effects than others.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
You may know these as NSAIDs; these are medicines that, like in humans, reduce swelling and joint-related pain and stiffness. However, NSAIDs that are safe for humans aren’t necessarily safe for your dog. Make sure you speak to your veterinarian for a prescription.
You may also find that supplements – such as omega-3 oils – can help your dog as well. In some cases, depending on the severity and progression of your dog’s arthritis, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe supplements that will not only help protect the existing cartilage and joints but can even help repair the cartilage. Supplements will also work to reduce swelling, which will, in turn, help with the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions in dogs, and, with a variety of causes and symptoms, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start when it comes to treatment. Whether you decide to take a natural route or let your veterinarian help you with a pharmaceutical route, you will never completely heal your dog’s arthritis. However, you could find that your dog will eventually return to his old self, and that the pain associated with common tasks will no longer burden your dog, allowing him to continue doing what he loves: spending time with you.
Alex Saunders writes for DoggieApproved.com a website that provides dog owners helpful tips to be a better dog parent. You can read their most recent review of the best orthopedic dog beds for dogs struggling with arthritis.