Does your dog have trouble standing or sitting? Do you find that Fido is sleeping more than usual? Does your energetic ball of fur suddenly not want to run after that slobbery tennis ball anymore? Have you noticed that he or she has put on a couple of pounds lately?
These are just a few of the signs of arthritis in dogs. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that one in every five dogs in the United States is affected by arthritis. In fact, veterinarians report arthritis as one of the most common causes of chronic pain in dogs.
Causes of Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis isn’t just an "old dog" disease. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to arthritic conditions. Experts warn that older dogs (7-11 years old) have as much as a 65% increased risk of developing canine arthritis. Other factors that contribute to arthritis include:
Poor nutrition - Particularly lack of protein.
- Genetics - parents can pass it on to their puppies.
- Joint injuries and broken bones - an injured dog is more likely to develop arthritis, which is why it is vital that an injured dog receive immediate Veterinarian care.
- Overweight - excess weight puts pressure on the joints and can cause arthritic conditions. This is usually also the result of a diet that is not balanced.
- Disease - certain diseases can cause arthritis. In the United State Lyme disease is a major cause.
What Dogs Are Most Susceptible?
There are certain breeds that are more prone to arthritis due to certain breed specific traits (large, heavy breeds, high activity level, etc.). Some breeds that are more prone to developing arthritis include:
- Great Danes
- St. Bernards
- Old English sheep dogs
- German Shepards
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
Although a small breed, Dachshunds are also prone to arthritis mainly because they are bred to have long bodies and short legs. This creates an unequal distribution of weight which puts pressure on the joints.
Symptoms of Arthritis In Dogs
The sooner a dog receives treatment for arthritis the sooner the condition can be arrested, thus alleviating much of the pain and suffering that arthritis causes. You can stay on top of the situation by watching for these common symptoms:
- Not interested in playing
- Reluctant to climb or run
- Sleepier than usual
- Less alert than usual
- Weight gain
- Stiff or sore joints
- Attitude changes
- Having trouble standing or sitting
Fortunately, canine arthritis is treatable and your dog can get some relief. It is important that your dog see a veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem. Once your dog is diagnosed, your vet may prescribe several treatments such as a no steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which may be combined with some pain relieving over the counter medications. It is important, though, that you never give your pet human medication unless expressly instructed by your vet to do so.
Your vet will also probably put your dog on a healthy diet and recommend special foods containing high Omega fatty acid and glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Studies have shown that these aid in relieving the symptoms of canine arthritis. He will likely also advise that you incorporate exercise into your dog’s daily routine.