Just like people, many dogs suffer from arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis. Unbelievably, up to thirty percent of family pets have arthritis. They experience pain, swelling and stiffness the same as humans do. Some people refer to it as degenerative joint disease and it has the ability to change your dog, from very playful and energetic, to pain ridden and listless. Arthritis is the breakdown of protective cartilage, which covers and protects the bone joints. By nature, many dogs are extremely active and because of this, subject their joints to trauma. Unlike humans, when a dog injures itself, pet arthritic conditions often develop within weeks. Older dogs are more prone to arthritis as their cartilage deteriorates, especially in the larger breeds. There is more stress put on the joints from their weight and this worsens over time. Some of the types of arthritis in dogs are osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, knee dysplasia, and Osteochondritis, hypertrophy and shoulder degeneration.
Because our pets cannot tell us they are in pain, here are some of the signs that may indicate that your dog is suffering from arthritis:
Limping – Your dog limps or favors a leg, but has no injury to its paws
Slow moving – Your usually active pet moves at a much slower pace, has trouble running and jumping, has difficulty climbing stairs or shies away from playing
Walking – They lag behind you when taking them for a walk or are very listless and hesitant to go walking at all.
Crying or yelping – If you touch then in a certain area, they yelp or do not want you touching them.
Difficulty rising - When the dog goes to get up from sleeping or laying down, they have great difficulty or yelp, making it obvious that they are having problems, are all signs of arthritis.
As upsetting as it is, do not panic if the vet diagnosis your dog with arthritis. Unlike years ago, there are many very good remedies to help alleviate and control your dog’s pain. If your dog is overweight, the first thing your vet will recommend is a weight loss program. Just like humans, the more weight you carry, the harder it is on your joints and this is no different for dogs. Have your vet recommend a healthy diet for your special companion that gradually helps them lose weight without being hungry all the time. As much as you hate having to cut down on their dog treats, this is for the health of your animal. There are several medications available to help control or end the pain. Always follow the vets instructions on the amount and frequency of the medication prescribed for your dog. They know exactly how much to give your dog and if you decide to up the dose or cut down on it, you could do more harm than good. Once you remove the pain, and your dog moves about easily, you can resume taking them for walks and getting exercise. You may want to discuss arthritis supplements for your dog, with your vet.
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