Arthritis in dogs is incredibly common, even more so in large breeds and senior pets. It can be painful, but managing arthritis doesn’t have to be.
What Is Canine Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term that is used to identify the abnormal changes in the joints of a pet. It can arise from the destruction of joint tissue following an infection from trauma or stress on the joint and the supporting structure. Occasionally, these disorders will result in the degeneration and inflammation of the joint tissue.
In most cases, the pet will eventually display outward signs of discomfort and pain. Canine arthritis is often noticed at an early stage if the dog is under the supervision of a veterinarian. However, pet owners also need to be aware of the changes that a dog might be going through.
Increased weight, excessive sleeping, less interest in playing, and changes in attitude may be the first signs of canine arthritis. If your dog does not greet you properly after coming back home, shows less interest in jumping on the couch, or becomes very cautious when climbing stairs, then your pet may be suffering from joint discomfort.
Canine Arthritis Management
Pay Attention to Small Changes
Arthritis in dogs is very common, but can be difficult to identify in the early stages. Some changes are so subtle, that they can be contributed to a dog getting older. For example, during a veterinary examination of a six-year-old GSD, a pet owner reported that the dog seemed a bit slower than before.
What may have begun as your dog moving a little slower or grunting as they push themselves up off the ground can become debilitating over time. Paying attention to early warning signs will help you to make the best decisions when it comes to caring for your pet.
Changes in Dog’s Behavior
Although there was no clear indication of pain, the subtle signs of a slight attitude change when the dog changed its position prompted the visit to the vet. After examining the dog’s limb, the vet determined that the dog was suffering from canine arthritis. Since the dog was in a very early stage of canine arthritis, it had not been showing any major symptoms.
But if you take proper care and follow some general guidelines, it is possible to keep your dog healthy. Here are the solutions I use for canine arthritis management.
Manage Your Dog’s Body Weight
Keep your dog healthy by keeping off excess weight. This can be the most important aspect of managing canine arthritis. If you see that your dog has become overweight, reduce the weight to a reasonable level. It will make a noticeable change in your dog’s mobility and activity level. Start with a little exercise. If your pet has excessive joint pain, do not push it, but start small, and make sure you are providing a healthy diet. You will see in a short time that your dog is losing the excessive weight.
Fix the Leaky Gut
For many years I suspected that joint disease or canine arthritis was caused by a poor diet but was not actually sure why. Here’s the background to the answer: the lining of the gut contains billions of minute holes that allow digested foods and protein to enter the body. It is later used as fuel. The holes are tiny because they protect the body from allowing the larger, undigested or toxic proteins to come into the body and destroy the immune system. However, these tiny holes get bigger if they are damaged. When this happens, the harmful proteins, toxins, and bacteria rupture the immune system and enter into the body. The immune reaction will continue as the gut of the dog is damaged, and the foreign invaders will keep entering the body, leading to chronic inflammation and arthritis.
One of the most common signs that your dog is struggling with joint pain or arthritis pain is how they move. Physical activities that an arthritic dog will struggle with include:
- Difficulty getting in or out of the car
- Struggling on the stairs
- Difficulty getting into a standing position
- Dropping to the floor instead of gently lowering themselves
- Activities that were once easily managed are now a struggle
Mobility Assistance for Canine Arthritis
Pets dealing with arthritic joints, want to remain active and luckily there are mobility devices that can help.
When using a Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, the dog’s weight is supported relieving the immediate joint pressure, which allows a pet to move more freely. And the more active a dog is the healthier their joints.
Inactive muscles can begin to atrophy, a wheelchair can help keep your dog strong and moving.
Dog Hip Support for Arthritis
If your dog’s arthritis is located in the hip joint, the use of a hip brace can help to alleviate some of that pain as well. By hugging the hip, a brace can support the joint allowing your pet to comfortably move.
The Walkin’ Hip-EEZ wraps around your dog’s combining pressure and support to the joint to decrease your dog’s pain and inflammation.
Lifting Harness to Give Your Dog a Boost
If your dog needs a little boost to get up on their feet, the Up-n-Go leash is the answer. It easily slips on your dog’s back legs while they’re laying down, allowing you to gently assist them up onto their feet and support them as they walk.
The rear support leash is a simple solution for you to give your dog a little extra help. Perfect for going up stairs, into your car or for quick bathroom breaks.
Avoid a Poor Diet
Stop feeding your dog processed and grain-based foods like soy, rice, and wheat, and keep them away from pasteurized and dairy-based food products. Food safety can be one of the main solutions to this problem. Never use unnecessary medicines or steroids. This leads to an imbalance of the healthy flora in the gut and can cause a leaky gut.
A lot of dog owners think that the more a dog is vaccinated, the better it is. But in reality, over-vaccination can cause a harmful effect on the body of your pet. Vaccines are foreign proteins that can come with heavy metals like aluminum, which exaggerate the immune response in a pet. Over-vaccination compromises the immune system and causes inflammation in the body and gut. Always consult with your vet before vaccinations.
Fix the Fat
One of the crucial ingredients of your dog’s diet is the fats. The fats affect every cell of the body. If they do not get the proper amount of fat, then the balance is impaired. The fats that your dog eats are either omega 3 or omega 6 fats. Both of these fats are important for the health your dog. Since these fats work together, it is crucial to keep them in balance by feeding your dog a high quality food.
Antioxidants may help prevent or delay cell damage in the body. You may want to add food-based antioxidants to your dog’s diet for maximum health. Consider turmeric, herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, cinnamon, ginger, and cumin), phytoplankton (contains cancer-fighting antioxidants), blueberry, goji berry, and cranberry to their diet to help them in fighting arthritis. Your dog might be allergic to any of these, so don’t forget to check with your vet before adding these to your dog’s diet.
Forget the Floor
If your dog is suffering from arthritis, hardwood flooring can make the situation worse. Give your dog a high-quality cushioned, soft sleeping surface. This will keep your pet warm and cozy. Make sure soft beds are throughout the home, especially wherever you may have hardwood flooring. Your dog will probably also appreciate gentle massage to help minimize pain!
NSAIDS & Supplements
One of the most effective treatments of canine arthritis is the use of NSAIDs and chondroprotective joint supplements, such as chondroitin and glucosamine, used together. This is one of the most common ways of battling canine arthritis. Sometimes, the supplements by themselves are not enough to ease the discomfort or pain that your pet is suffering from. Hence, NSAIDs are used in conjunction with them for managing the inflammation and pain linked to arthritis. Many vets routinely recommend a weight loss program along with daily exercise, NSAID use, and nutraceuticals to ward off and alleviate the effects of arthritis.
Avoid Human Medications
Never feed your dog human medicines for the treatment of arthritis. Human medicines are specially designed for, well, humans, and there can be ingredients present which are harmful to the health of your dog. In some cases, feeding human medicine to your dog may even be fatal. For this reason, it is necessary to stick to the medications and/or supplements suggested by your vet.
It is essential to consult with your vet, who will help you decide which course of action is best for your pet. You and your vet can manage your dog’s arthritis to help him or her live a high quality life with minimal pain and discomfort.
Thank you to guest blogger MD Selim for this post on canine arthritis. Selim is an entrepreneur and content marketer at. He likes pets, traveling, and music.