Dog arthritis is a common condition that is seen most often in animals that are older, overweight and relatively inactive, but younger animals can also suffer from this condition. Some cases are hereditary and occur in animals with hip dysplasia. There is no cure for degenerative joint disease but there are options available to veterinarians for treatment which will improve quality of life.
Osteoarthritis is a disease that attacks the joints and is mainly caused by wear and tear. The cartilage cushioning the affected joints becomes worn down and the bones start to grind against each other. As the bones become deformed, it is more painful to move. The joint becomes inflamed and the animal will struggle to stand up or lay down and show signs of restricted mobility. A traumatic injury to the joints can cause similar symptoms and there is a chance that it can lead to osteoarthritis down the road.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that occurs when the immune system is compromised.
The joints will become swollen and painful. Stiffness and pain results in a loss of function.
Symptoms of joint disease are usually more apparent after the animals wakes up. Cold weather and damp conditions will increase the stiffness and pain. The progressive nature of this disease makes it more and more difficult for the animal to get around comfortably.
X-rays of the joint will reveal bone spurs developing at the attachment between the bones, ligaments and joints. The space between the bone and joint narrows while bone density increases.
Early intervention has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms. Dogs are prone to developing this condition and one way to prevent its onset is to feed the animal a balanced diet. Overweight animals will experience more pain in the joints. Good joint care will reduce the effects of this condition. Regular exercise is also important for joint health.
This condition is often treated with glucosamine and chondritin. These substances work to develop healthy cartilage rather than just mask the symptoms. Animals that are predisposed to the condition can be treated ahead of time to reduce loss of function.
Glucosamine extracted from the exoskeleton of shellfish including shrimp, lobster and crab. It acts to stimulate cartilage cells to produce collagen, a substance that acts to reinforce all joints. It is also used to make hyaluronic acid, an ingredient found in synovial fluid.
Chondroitin is a substance that works in conjunction with glucosamine to produce a greater effect than either substance used alone. It inhibits the production of enzymes that destroy the joints. These agents work together to repair cartilage and prevent additional damage.
Corticosteroids and analgesics may be prescribed to manage the pain and make it easier for the animal to function normally.
Regardless of cause, veterinarians have the tools necessary to help relieve the symptoms of dog arthritis. Treatment methods are designed to help the animal get around easier and improve quality of life. Diet and exercise, combined with medication, will eliminate or ease most symptoms and allow the pet to live a long, happy life.
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