If you’ve noticed your dog getting more stiff and sore as they age, you’ve probably also been wondering what you can do about it. Any good pet owner knows that loving your pet comes with good times and bad, and that precious puppy seems to turn elderly in the blink of an eye.
Arthritis in dogs is one of the most common issues that happens to senior dogs, and all of the pet lovers here at WINPRO Pet wanted to help you do something about it. Learn how to prevent aches and pains in your aging dog with tips and tricks that you can start using today to improve your pup’s quality of life.
What Is Arthritis?
When we talk about arthritis in dogs, we’re mostly talking about a specific kind known as osteoarthritis (or DJD - Degenerative Joint Disease). While a lot of people think arthritis is a condition that happens to the bones, it is actually an issue with the joints like knees, hips, and lower back, and the cartilage around them.
When your pup has healthy joints, there is plenty of cartilage to cushion them. The cartilage also supports the joint so that it can move through its entire, normal range of motion. Think of how bouncy your pup is when they’re younger… they can run around all day long and not so much as limp the next day. Unfortunately, as they age (and yes, this happens to humans, too!), that cartilage starts to naturally degrade. The process can go even quicker if your dog gets injured or suffers from certain disease, and it can be hard to watch.
The good news is, in general, arthritis doesn’t have to impact your pet’s lifespan.
Are There Any Risk Factors For Arthritis In Dogs?
Every dog is at risk for developing arthritis, especially the older they get. However, there are also a few different risk factors that can make arthritis more likely to happen at some point. The good news is, knowing what they are can also help you be able to slow down how quickly your precious baby develops issues.
- Being a larger breed (or giant breed) dog - German Shepherds, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers, to name just a few
- A previous diagnosis of either elbow dysplasia or hip dysplasia
- Being overweight or obese
- Having developed one or more of the infections that can impact joints (Lyme Disease, etc.)
- Diseases such as Cushing’s disease, anemia, diabetes, or bone cancer.
- Poor nutrition and nutritional deficiencies
- Leading a more athletic than normal lifestyle (dogs that regularly practice and compete in agility, diving, and flyball are often susceptible)
- Genetic predispositions
- Being allowed to grow too quickly as puppies, leading to body “confirmation” issues
- Injuries to the bone, joint or cartilage (fractures, ACL tears, etc.)
- Age is a risk factor, too, and not the actual cause of arthritis in dogs
What Should I Be Looking For That Could Indicate Arthritis In Dogs?
While arthritis in dogs can be difficult (if not impossible) to detect by the average pet owner in its early stages, keeping an eye out for the following symptoms can be a little clue. Keep in mind that dogs have learned through evolution to hide any signs of discomfort or pain, because it helped to keep them safe from predators. You’ll have to pay close attention to your dog to see the symptoms of arthritis at first, but that just gives you more reason to spend time with them!
- Lethargy (excessive sleepiness)
- Pain when you pet or touch them
- Difficulty with mobility, such as getting up stairs or changing position
- Stiffness, lameness, or limping
- Less excited about playing, running, or jumping
- Having accidents around the house, or trouble squatting to urinate or have a bowel movement
- Losing muscle mass, especially around the back legs or spine
- Weight gain
- Behavioral changes, like getting “snappy”
If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
How Can I Prevent Arthritis In Dogs?
Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to “prevent” your dog from developing arthritis… if you’re lucky enough to have your dog live to a ripe, old age they’ll likely deal with at least a mild form of it. But, instead of looking at it like a bad thing, consider how blessed you’ve been to continue to have your sweet pup around into their senior years!
Instead of looking at it like prevention, look at it like finding ways to minimize the severity of the arthritis that can develop.
It really starts, like all other health conditions in dogs do, by making sure to take your pup to regular wellness exams at your veterinarian. There are so many benefits to following through with routine vet care, including helping to keep your pet at a healthy weight, and catching problems (not only arthritis in dogs but also colitis, allergies, and even behavioral problems) before they have a chance to really take hold.
Your vet can also make sure that you are feeding your dog the right food for their specific needs. Because nutritional deficiencies are one of the potential triggers of worsening arthritis, their guidance is so essential toward making sure that you’re getting it right.
Can Arthritis in Dogs Be Treated?
Arthritis in dogs is progressive, meaning that it continues to get worse. There also isn’t a cure for it, which is why it is so important to pay attention to your pup and do as much prevention as possible.
If and when your furry family member starts to show signs of arthritis, it really comes down to minimizing the symptoms instead of “curing” them. That means a trip to the vet, possible massage or acupuncture treatments, and potential prescription medications to help treat the pain and inflammation while improving their quality of life. That comes with its own trade offs, though, as long term use of certain medications can lead to other issues like GI troubles and a change in appetite. For a safe, completely natural solution, try Hip & Joint.
Our supplement uses the power of clinically proven blood-proteins to naturally fight inflammation that causes the pain and limping that you are likely seeing with your dog. Unsure of whether or not it’s the right fit? Take a look at the reviews.
You can also focus on making changes around your house to help make your arthritic dog as comfortable as possible. Having orthopedic, comfortable dog beds, using plenty of skid proof rugs and carpets over hardwood floors around the house, raising the height of dog’s food and water bowls (elbow height is recommended), and finding ramps that can help your dog get onto and off of the furniture can all make a serious difference in their comfort level, especially as they age.
In certain situations, some pet owners may turn to surgery to help their pet. Total joint replacement, joint fusion, and even amputation may seem severe, but they can be last ditch efforts to keep your pup comfortable (especially in younger dogs that have developed arthritis as a result of an injury).
While arthritis in dogs can’t be prevented, it can be slowed down when you know the right things to focus on.
From all of us here at WINPRO Pet to all of you (and your precious pups), we want to help you keep your pet happy, comfortable, and around as long as they can be. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight, feeding them the right food, and watching for symptoms of pain and stiffness can help you help them as best as any of us can. They all deserve the best!