What You Should Know
We usually notice when our dogs are not themselves and once you do you should pay attention. Many diseases can cause behavioural changes and osteoarthritis (OA) is one of them.
That’s right, humans are not the only mammals that can suffer from OA. Unfortunately dogs can develop OA too. This a chronic disease also known as degenerative joint disease. It is considered the primary cause of chronic pain in dogs and it tends to get worse with age.
If it is found that your dog is affected, there are pain management medications. The right medication can help put your best friend back in motion by effectively relieving pain and inflammation..
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF OSTEOARTHRITIS?
OA makes it difficult for dogs to move. The protective cartilage in joints wears down and this leads to painful swelling, stiffness and eventually lameness (or loss of mobility) if not diagnosed and managed. The long-term deterioration of the cartilage is progressive and permanent.
DON’T DISMISS POSSIBLE SIGNS OF PAIN
If you suspect that your dog is experiencing any pain you should contact your veterinarian. He or she will mostly likely encourage a check-up to perform tests to determine where the pain is coming from. Once a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan can be put in place and your dog’s quality of life can improve.
OA can affect different joints and all dogs do not necessarily experience the same symptoms, or the same combination of symptoms.
Excessive exercise yet also inactivity could make these symptoms worse.
Cold weather may also have a negative impact.
No abnormal behaviour should be dismissed. Observed and documented behavioural signs could help to diagnose OA. A physical assessment is also necessary. A veterinarian will be able to assess limbs and joints to determine if and to what degree they are affected.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF OA
The main cause is not clear, but many secondary causes have been identified. They include physical trauma, for example shoulder/kneecap dislocation and abnormal development/birth defects, for example elbow or hip dysplasia. Obesity should also be taken into consideration since excess weight puts additional, unnecessary stress on joints. Risks of developing OA may increase in cases where steroid treatment is prolonged or if a dog already suffers from diabetes or hyperlaxity.
TREATMENT FOR DOGS WITH OSTEOARTHRITIS
Unfortunately there is no cure, but nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve pain and improve quality of life by making the condition more manageable. Physical therapy can also be explored and some owners have turned to surgery.
If your dog is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, your veterinarian can advise you on living with and management of dogs with OA. For best results, check-ups as recommended and monitoring of the condition is essential.