Arthritis not only affects humans, but our dogs as well. The number one difference between canine arthritis and human arthritis, is that a dog cannot tell us what is wrong. He cannot describe the pain he feels when he tries to walk up the stairs or jump up on the couch. As a pet owner, it is our responsibility to look for possible symptoms of dog arthritis, especially as our furry friends age.
A dog is a loyal companion and loves to play and learn new things. When a dog gets to the senior age, he can no longer run and explore as he used to. We believe it is a dog owner’s job to make sure your dog’s senior years are as comfortable, happy and healthy as possible. Canine arthritis is the number one cause of severe pain in elderly dogs. Knowing what to look for when dealing with arthritis in dogs may save him a lot of pain and suffering.
- 1 What is Arthritis in Dogs?
- 2 How can I tell if my dog has arthritis?
- 3 What is the best treatment for dogs with arthritis?
- 4 What can you give a dog for arthritis over the counter?
From diagnosing symptoms to tips for dealing with arthritis in the home, we provide you with extensive knowledge on how to deal with dog arthritis. We discuss different treatments and even natural supplements to give your dog to help ease the pain and tension in his joints.
Our mission is to provide readers with the best information on keeping their dog’s arthritis at bay. We believe dedication and correct procedures are key in treating arthritis in dogs. We understand that it can be very painful not only for the dog, but for the dog owner as well.
What is Arthritis in Dogs?
“Arthritis” simply means inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is when the protective cartilage, or lubrication (synovial fluid) of the joints, breaks down.
There are a number of different areas in the body that can be affected. Some of these include:
Unfortunately there is no known cure for dog arthritis. The key to keeping your dog happy and pain-free is prevention and management.
Arthritis affects one out of every five dogs. It is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs. There are two types of arthritis that affects dogs. The first is known as Osteoarthritis, or OA, and the second is known as Degenerative Joint Disease, or DJD.
Certain breeds are more susceptible to arthritis than others. Most of these breeds are of the larger scale. Some breeds include American Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, St. Bernards, Pugs, German Shepherds, Beagles and Chow Chows.
What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?
There are a number of causes of arthritis in dogs. Some common causes of arthritis include poor nutrition, obesity, trauma to the bones or joints, torn ligaments or tendons or malformation of the dog’s bone structure.
The overall outcome of these contributing factors is inflammation of the joints and irritated nerve endings. These disturbances cause stiffness, pain and reluctance to everyday activities.
Although dog arthritis is very common and can very well result simply from a dog’s everyday activities over the years, there are things you can do to help prevent arthritis as much as possible.
Diet and exercise are two very important factors in a dog’s overall health. Making sure your dog is fed a well balanced diet full of the right nutrients and vitamins is an excellent way to ensure a healthy life. Avoid feeding your dog fatty human foods, as excess weight can stress the bones and joints.
Exercise your dog on a regular basis. This helps to maintain strong muscles and flexible joints.
If any injuries occur to your dog throughout his life, it is important he receives proper care and that his injuries heal completely. Regular visits to the veterinarian can help to avoid serious injuries and catch any problems early on.
Adding supplements such as glucosamine and vitamin C will help to keep your dog’s joint lubricated and strong. Supplements are not veterinarian prescribed and can benefit your dog in more ways than one.
How can I tell if my dog has arthritis?
Arthritis is a very painful and common condition affecting older dogs. One in five adult dogs are affected by arthritis. Dog arthritis is one of the most common sources of pain that veterinarians treat every year.
There are two common types of dog arthritis. These types are known as degenerative and inflammatory. They are diagnosed by their causes, and the canine arthritis symptoms for both are basically identical.
Canine Arthritis Symptoms to Look For
Your dog may lose or gain weight if he is suffering from arthritis. He will likely sleep more than play and may lose interest in his daily walks. Depression is also a dog arthritis symptom – if your dog is suffering from this he may over or under eat as well.
Difficulty sitting or standing
Your dog may find it hard to get up and may not move right away. The first few steps may be painful and stiff. He may become uncomfortable while sitting and shift around a lot.
Decreased activity interest
Since your dog is in a serious amount of pain, he will likely not get very excited to play and run around. Your dog may want to stop and turn around during a routine walk. Even treats seem like a chore to your dog when he is dealing with arthritis.
Hesitancy to climb stairs or jump
Jumping up onto the couch may not be possible for a dog suffering from arthritis. You may notice your dog does not jump up to sit with you, and chooses to sleep on the floor instead. He may be hesitant to climb any stairs around the house as well. Sometimes a dog will simply refuse to climb the stairs at all.
Favoring a limb
This is known as limb lameness, and is a common symptom of canine arthritis. The lameness may come and go, and will likely switch between legs. This is known as shifting lameness. You may notice your dog limping as a sign of arthritis.
Lethargy is very common during arthritis. Your dog may not want to move around and will sleep often to try to dull the pain of his swollen joints.
Your dog may not want to play or listen when he is called. Because of the pain, he may become easily agitated if he is touched or forced into activity. Symptoms of these mood swings include growling, whining or nipping.
Other Signs of Arthritis
Arthritis pain may cause illness in your dog. This may lead to loss of appetite and fever. Another sign your dog may have arthritis is licking. Your dog may lick the sore area in attempt to ease the pain. If you touch the suspected area, it may feel warm and appear swollen from inflammation of the joint.
What can you do if your dog has arthritis?
If you suspect your dog may have arthritis, you will need to take him to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will perform X-rays and blood tests to confirm the condition. Once arthritis has been determined, your veterinarian will help you decide on the best treatment and therapy options for your dog.
What is the best treatment for dogs with arthritis?
Once you have determined your dog has arthritis, it is important to begin treatment right away. Canine arthritis treatment options may include physical therapy, medications, natural supplements and sometimes even surgery.
Most dog arthritis treatments are a life long task in order to keep your canine as happy, comfortable and pain free as possible. It is important to check in with your veterinarian regularly to keep an eye on joint inflammation. If you are unsure about what treatment method is best for your dog’s arthritis, talk to your veterinarian about different medication and supplement options and best practices.
Supplements are designed to supply the body with nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are normally made with natural or organic ingredients. Supplements are a great alternative to medication and should be used along with therapy for best results in treating your dog’s arthritis.
Cosequin for Dogs – Cosequin for dogs is a nutritional supplement which helps maintain healthy joints. The active ingredients include glucosamine and chondroitin. It is available in regular strength and double strength capsules and chewable tablets. Cosequin for Dogs is a highly recommended dog arthritis treatment by veterinarians, with no reported side effects.
Dasuquin – Dasuquin is a great natural canine arthritis treatment in the form of a nutritional supplement given to dogs to help them enjoy an active lifestyle. It comes in chicken and tuna flavored chewable tablets and has no reported side effects. Dasuquin’s active ingredients include avocado and soybean, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
Phycox – This is a joint supplement to help reduce inflammation and pain from normal everyday activities. Phycox contains a blend of phycocyanin, glucosamine, MSM, boron and creatine monohydrate to support joint function. It is available in 3 formulations, soft chews, granules and small bites.
The following medical treatments are all veterinarian prescribed treatments for pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Any of these medications should be stopped if irregular symptoms occur. Talk to your veterinarian about which is best for your dog.
Deramaxx – This is a non-steroidal treatment for pain and inflammation from arthritis. It is available in beef-flavored chewable tablets. Side effects to the digestive system, kidneys or liver may occur. Blood tests may be performed occasionally while your dog is taking Deramaxx.
Metacam – Metacam is an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat arthritis. It also helps to reduce fever. Metacam comes with a syringe with weight measurements to accurately dispense the correct amount of medication. It helps to reduce hormones that cause pain in your dog’s body.
Rimadyl – This is a joint support for dogs with arthritis. It is also used to help treat surgical pain and fever. Given in a single daily dose and is available in chewable and non chewable tablets. It works by reducing hormones that cause pain and inflammation in your dog’s joints. Pregnant or lactating dogs should not use Rimadyl.
EtoGesic – EtoGesic is given to dogs over 12 months of age to help relieve pain and inflammation. It is a non-steroidal drug and also helps to reduce fevers. EtoGesic may increase the risk of stomach and intestine problems.
In very serious cases of arthritis, surgery may be required for your dog. Surgery should only be considered when therapy and medical treatments are not effective.
The type of surgery will depend on the joints involved and how severe the inflammation is. Some surgeries may include:
- Joint replacement (hip, elbow, etc.)
- Fusing damaged joints
Because most arthritis ridden dogs are older or overweight, surgery can be very risky and is usually not recommended. Your veterinarian will discuss possible risks and what to expect during and after surgery before committing to these procedures. It is important to realize that arthritis surgery is not always successful and can be very expensive.
What can you give a dog for arthritis over the counter?
There are a number of options available to help treat your dog’s arthritis. These methods are some things you can do around the house to ease pain and help your dog with everyday activities.
You can help slow down the progression of arthritis by following treatment options from your veterinarian and implementing some of these home remedies. These methods are safe and effective for helping to ease the effects of arthritis in your dog.
Treating Your Dog’s Arthritis at Home
Applying a warm compress to your dog’s joints will help ease pain. Heat will penetrate deep into the muscle to the joint and provides relief. Be careful when using hot water bottles or heating pads, as they may become too hot for your dog.
If he yelps or cringes when you apply the compress or water bottle, it is too hot. Remember that your dog may be able to get up quickly to escape the heat and it may burn him.
Keep Your Dog Warm and Comfortable
This is especially important on cold or wet days. The cold may cause your dog’s joints to be especially stiff. Add an extra blanket to his bed or allow him to lay on the couch or a bed. If he is outside, be sure to provide enough heat and comfort in the dog house.
Adding an extra pillow or cushion to your dog’s bed will be extremely beneficial compared to a hard floor. The extra comfort will help ease tension and stiffness in the arthritic joints.
Raise Your Dogs Food and Water Dishes
This is especially important if your dog has arthritis in the neck or shoulders. Bending down may cause tension, so consider raising his food and water dishes to avoid straining his neck.
Consider a Ramp
This is important if your dog has a hard time getting up the stairs. Consider purchasing a ramp that can be laid over or beside the stairs so your dog can go up and down with ease.
A ramp should also be considered if your dog has to jump up into a car or truck. A ramp is good if you frequently travel on the road with your dog or even if you need to take him to the veterinarian.
Keep Your Floors Slip-Free
If you notice your dog struggling and slipping while trying to get up off the floor, consider a rug or using a different cleaning product on the floors. A rug could also be placed underneath your dog’s bed or blanket or in areas he frequently lays.
This is very important for treating arthritis. It should be regular, but not excessive and not too strenuous. Too much exercise may further damage the inflamed joints. Walking or light jogging are great forms of exercise, as well as swimming. Swimming is a very common form of therapy for physical rehabilitation. If it is too cold to go outside, you can use a treadmill in the house, just make sure your dog is supervised.
Controlling your dog’s weight and changing his diet are also important with dog arthritis. Talk to your veterinarian about a special diet plan to help control weight gain and reduce excess fat tissues. These tissues secrete hormones that may cause pain.
Acupuncture or Massage Therapy
Both of these professional treatments may be effective when treating dog arthritis. Both will help to ease the pain in the muscles and joints. They work extremely well when regular exercise and diet are implemented as well. You can try giving your dog massages at home as well.
As with humans, glucosamine has proven to be a great supplement for helping slow the progression of arthritis in dogs.
Glucosamine and Your Dog
Since the body’s natural production of glucosamine helps to repair joint cartilage, giving your dog glucosamine as a supplement helps to repair damaged cartilage by augmenting their body’s supply of glucosamine. Glucosamine acts as a lubrication for your dog’s joints.
Glucosamine alone will not be sufficient for your dog’s joint health. There are a number of additional supplements and medications available that contain glucosamine for treatment of dog arthritis. You can view our treatments page to read up on top recommended supplements and veterinarian prescribed medications for dog arthritis.
Possible Side Effects
Mild side effects may include headache, insomnia, nausea or loss of appetite, drowsiness or vomiting.
Benefits of Glucosamine
Dogs respond very well to glucosamine. It has been proven to treat dog arthritis within 4-6 weeks of treatment.