What is Arthritis and Joint Disease in Dogs?
Arthritis and Joint disease, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is an acute or progressive deterioration of the cartilage that surrounds the joints. This type of disease is typically found towards the end of the progression. This is mostly due to our pets not displaying any pain until the end.
Acute DJD occurs after a trauma or at the time of an injury where as DJD is progressive over time. There is no cure for the disease, but we can offer our dogs medication, better diet, and supplements to help relieve pain.
What Causes Arthritis and Joint Disease?
As stated above, unless it’s related to an injury or trauma, such as being hit by a car, getting into a severe dog fight, abusive environment, or more, then it’s genetic. If it’s genetic, your dog will slowly lose the lubrication around their joints until it’s just bone on bone.
Overeating, lack of exercise, and weight gain can boost the wear and tear on the cartilage as well. Other common causes of DJD are the following.
- Their age
- Extra weight on their joints
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Splitting or damage to cartilage layers
- Constant Shoulder instability (Chronic Subluxation)
- Floating Kneecap (Patella Luxation)
- Cartilage flaps in joints due to abnormal bone growth (Osteochondritis Dissecans)
- Displacement of capital femoral epiphysis due to trauma (Slipped Epiphysis)
- Death of tissue (Aseptic Necrosis)
- Trauma to the joints
- Stress on joints (common with working and sports dogs)
- Systemic disease can be related such as diabetes
How to Spot Arthritis or Joint Disease Pain?
As responsible pet owners, we need to be aware of our dogs body language and movements. Becoming familiar with their habits will help you detect any issues early on. Things to look for when your dog is suffering from DJD or arthritis are the following.
- Difficulty getting up from a laying position
- Change in their gait
- Problems going up and down stairs
- Issues with jumping into the car
- Lameness in one or more of their limbs
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Disinterest in being active or activites
- Loss of muscle
- Being vocal about the pain
- Wincing or whining when touched
- Clicking or popping when they move about
Ultimately, your local veterinarian will be able to give the proper prognosis for your dog. They will ask you questions about your dog such as…
- Did they experience any recent injury?
- When did you first notice your dog in pain?
- Does your dog participate in any activities?
- Is there a constant sign of pain or is it more evident during/after exercise?
- Finally, they may ask if they’ve received any prior treatment or if they are on any medications.
Your veterinarian will then perform a few tests in order to determine the best prognosis as well as treatment. This is typically found through movement of the limbs, radiographs, and neurological assessment tests.
Best Way to Help Prevent Arthritis and Joint Pain
Whether it’s injury related or genetic, there still are ways to help your dog. This all comes down to diet, supplements, and exercising. You can also give your dog supplements such as Fish Oil, Glucosamine, Turmeric, Copper, or Vitamin C. These can help fight the inflammation of the tissues, help regenerate, and heal them.
It’s also good to make sure you aren’t over feeding your dog as they get older. Senior dogs aren’t as active and can quickly put on pounds. It’s suggested to swap to a senior diet or cut back on how many calories they take in. You can always consult with your veterinarian regarding dog food and dieting.
How To Exercise Your Dog With Arthritis and Joint Disease?
The idea behind exercising a dog with joint pain is not to over whelm them. Taking them to the dog park or playing fetch isn’t a good idea for them. This can cause further pain and make things more difficult. A good suggestion is to take your dog to a local dog friendly swimming area.
This can help exercise the joints in a weight less environment and help the joints become stronger. The idea behind this is your dog will change their gait depending on where they are experiencing pain. This usually tends to more pressure on other parts of the body to try and compensate.
Another useful thing to try is acupuncture. Acupuncture helps blood flow to areas that have been restricted. By putting pins in the right places, it helps loosen the constricted blood vessels and helps the tissue receive the proper nutrients and blood flow.
What Foods Should You Give Your Dog?
If your dog is suffering from DJD or Arthritis, it’s better to feed them a fresh diet containing meet. This can range from fresh bones and vital cartilage. These contain high amounts of calcium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and other minerals. These all help by providing the joint tissues the right amount of nutrition needed to be healthy.
You can also buy premade raw dog food or make your own. Any raw food mixture will do but a quick supplement could be fresh oily sardines. The fish oil is great for lubricating stiff joints in dogs.
What Supplements Can You Give Your Dog?
As we mentioned above, you can add sardines to their daily diet to help combat joint disease as well as some of the following.
- Green lipped mussels
- Glucosamine or Chondroitin pills
- Yumove dog supplements
Are There Any Natural Solutions to Help With the Pain?
Natural solutions to help your dog with joint pain comes down to supplementing their food. You can mix in sardines and turmeric into their dog food or feed them a raw food diet.
The goal is to make sure your dog is lean and not overweight. This will help greatly with the inflammation in their joints. Take them swimming and find a local dog acupuncturist.
What Medication Can You Get For Your Dogs Joint Pain?
Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a variety of medication ranging from, Rimadyl, pain killers, Glucosamine, and more. All of these will help relieve the dogs pain but don’t do much other than that. Ultimately you’ll still need to change your dogs diet and provide supplements for them.
Otherwise you’re basically just band-aiding the problem until they pass away.
Consult With Your Local Veterinarian
Always consult with your local veterinarian before changing diet and exercise routines with your dog. It could be Arthritis/Joint disease or something else. They will also be able to provide you with a proper diet, exercise, and medication regime in order to give your loved one a better quality of life.
If there is anything we missed or you’d like us to add, please drop us a comment down below and we’ll be happy to add or get in touch with you.