If your dog
is acting lethargic, he may have a joint problem.
which literally means inflamed joints, is an umbrella
term for many forms of joint disease. Imagine a machine with well-oiled
parts working smoothly, all valves pumping, all parts meshing
together. Then, for some reason, one part bends or the lubricating
fluid dries up. Over time, the parts begin to wear down or grind
together until something gives way. Thats what happens when
your dogs joints become arthritic.
Large dogs are particularly prone to arthritis, but any dog could
potentially develop the condition, which is influenced by age,
genetic factors, and wear on and trauma to the joints. Obesity
also can increase your dogs chances of developing arthritis
because carrying excess weight can stress the joints.
Signs of arthritis
include the following:
Swollen, warm joints
Yelping, especially during exercise
Hesitating or refusing to climb stairs
Routine examinations help your veterinarian detect and treat arthritis
before it becomes too painful. If your dog doesnt receive
regular exams, the arthritis may already be advanced when you
recognize it. If you notice signs of arthritis, see a veterinarian
immediately. Your doctor will perform a complete physical examination
and may use X-rays, blood tests, and joint fluid analysis to determine
the cause and severity of the arthritis.
A good diet and plenty of exercise throughout your dogs
life are excellent preventive measures for arthritis, but in some
cases they arent enough. If your dog suffers from arthritis
associated with old age, you can help ease his discomfort through
weight reduction and controlled exercise.
Older animals tend to be less active, which can lead to weight
gain. And increased body weight results in a greater chance that
your dog will develop diabetes and cardiovascular, respiratory,
and orthopedic diseases - including arthritis. Thats why
its so important to control your older pets weight.
If your dog
is overweight, ask your veterinarian to recommend a weight-reducing
diet to help him reach his normal body weight and reduced-calorie
food to maintain the weight loss. Keep in mind that just as with
people, its safest for dogs to lose weight gradually. You
can also help your dog stay slim by cutting back on the number
of treats you feed him. Instead of relying on food rewards, offer
pats, praise, and play.
Dont exercise your dog until your veterinarian can control
his pain. After your veterinarian gives the okay, choose exercises
that maintain strength and flexibility - but arent harsh
or demanding. Remember, moderation is the key. You can step up
your dogs exercise routine as his condition improves.
an excellent choice because its a low-impact, therapeutic
sport. However, this activity isnt practical unless you
have a pool or body of water nearby.
experts agree that short, gentle walks are the next-best form
of exercise for the aging dog. For your dogs comfort and
safety, choose walking routes that offer level ground and good
footing, and avoid walking in cold or wet weather. Provide a padded
bed and a warm, dry environment to help reduce your pets
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAIDs, are veterinarians
first choice to treat arthritis. NSAIDs cause minimal complications
and side effects and block the production of prostaglandins -
which cause inflammation - to help control arthritis pain. Your
veterinarian might prescribe carprofen or etodolac. These drugs
provide good pain relief, may slow the arthritic process, and
have a low incidence of side effects.
(pronounced "Rim-a-dill") is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drug (NSAID) that provides safe and effective relief of pain and
inflammation due to canine arthritis.
Tablets by Fort Dodge are a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
that can be given once daily to manage the pain and inflammation
associated with osteoarthritis in dogs.
(deracoxib) is a breakthrough new drug that targets the source
of arthritis pain and is proven safe enough to use every day.
Deramaxx is a way for you to control your dogs pain, all
is a new immuno-nutritional aid for the management of chronic
inflammatory conditions including osteoarthritis and soft tissue
injury in dogs. Duralactin may be used as a primary supportive
nutritional aid to help manage inflammation or in conjunction
with NSAIDS or corticosteroids.
are sold over the counter for pain control in people. Dont
use them without consulting with your veterinarian first - they
can be dangerous when given to dogs. Also dont give your
dog more than one NSAID at a time.
an NSAID approved for use in people but commonly used for dogs
because its widely available and inexpensive. Aspirin relieves
joint inflammation and eases pain in dogs in much the same way
it does in people. The downside of giving your dog aspirin is
that it can cause gastric ulceration when used regularly. Again,
to protect the health of your pet, check with your veterinarian
before giving your dog any over-the-counter medication.
These compounds help prevent further cartilage destruction and
promote joint repair. Theyre most effective when used early
in the course of arthritis. Some of these compounds are administered
by injection and some are given orally. Your veterinarian must
prescribe and administer the injectable agents - known as polysulfated
glycosaminoglycans. These drugs are FDA-approved, and research
shows they are safe and effective in slowing the progression of
arthritis and controlling pain.
agents are sold as nutritional supplements and are given orally
(glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate). Because these supplements
dont need FDA approval, researchers have completed few studies
to test their safety and effectiveness. But subjective evidence
indicates that they help relieve the pain of arthritis, and they
appear to have few side effects. For more information on dog supplements
containing glucosamine and chondroitin avaible in our health/care
department click one of these links. Joint-MAX
arthritis relief, chondroprotective agents can be given along
with an NSAID to reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.
Surgery, which is used less often than other arthritis treatments,
may help some pets with severe arthritis. Veterinarians perform
surgery to relieve pain, improve motion, or correct deformed or
unstable joints. One of the surgeries performed is joint fusion,
which relieves pain and helps restore use of the limb. Other surgeries
include joint replacement and ligament repair.