Dogs arthritis treatment focuses on managing pain, slowing the progression of the disease process and maintaining joint function as much as possible. It is important to diagnose dogs with arthritis accurately by a thorough physical examination, including radiographs (x-rays), so that treatment can be tailored to your pet’s needs and condition.
Typically, arthritis can be diagnosed by a detailed physical exam and discussion with your veterinarian about your dog’s behaviour, gait, eating and sleeping habits and any other problems that may be impacting on their mobility. A x-ray may be recommended to check for other conditions that can cause arthritis.
The most common form of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis, or degenerative dogs arthritis treatment joint disease. This can be caused by normal wear and tear or by certain inherited diseases that cause the joints to be prone to damage. The most common affected joints are hips, elbows and knees.
Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition whereby the cartilage covering joints loses its protective coating. This leads to friction between bone surfaces and increased inflammation. It can also lead to bony growths or spurs which can cause further pain and discomfort.
There are several ways to manage pain in dogs with arthritis, ranging from holistic therapies at home to prescription medications. Your veterinarian will work with you and your dog to develop a treatment plan that best suits their individual needs.
A nutritional program that promotes a healthy weight and helps to normalize body condition is essential. This can be achieved through a balanced, high-quality diet and regular exercise. Your vet can help you determine a food that meets your pet’s needs and is appropriate for the level of activity they are able to perform.
Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are commonly used to help support healthy cartilage. Unlike NSAIDs, these supplements do not have the ability to destroy cartilage cells.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are another class of pain relievers that can be effective in many cases of arthritis. Often these drugs are combined with other modalities to provide comprehensive pain relief.
Laser therapy: Using a light beam to treat tissue can reduce pain and swelling, improve movement, and increase your dog’s comfort and strength.
Ice packs: Applying a cold pack to your dog’s injured area can reduce inflammation, stiffness and swelling. Always wrap the ice pack in a towel before you put it on your dog, and be sure to remove it after you’re done.
Low-impact exercises: Taking your dog on short walks is a great way to keep them mobile and their muscles strong. You can also swim or introduce other low-impact activities that don’t place too much pressure on their joints.
Keeping your dog active and fit: A regular exercise program is important for all animals, but it’s especially helpful for those with arthritis. Your veterinarian can recommend a range of appropriate and safe exercises for your dog’s individual needs, including gentle leash walks, swimming or tennis ball play.
Exercise should be gradual and controlled, as overdoing it can make the condition worse and put undue strain on the affected joints. Uncontrolled exercise (such as chasing after tennis balls or racing up and down sand dunes) can actually damage the bones of your dog’s joints, so you should avoid these types of activities as much as possible.