A Guide to Arthritis and Joint Care for Dogs
Joint care for dogs is a way you can provide the support your dog needs to lead an active lifestyle throughout his life. Arthritis, a general term for abnormal changes to the joint, causes pain and reduced mobility and has a wide range of causes. Each dog is going to react to arthritis differently, so it is important that each case of arthritis is treated individually, taking the symptoms and the individual dog’s reactions into account.
Causes of Arthritis
- Congenital causes of arthritis range from being predisposed to the condition to diseases such as hip dysplasia which can cause arthritis to develop because of the misalignment of the joint.
- Disorders of the immune system can also cause joint tissue inflammation and deterioration, leaving little or no protection for the joint and clearing the path for arthritis to develop.
- Excess weight can also cause undue stress on your dog’s joints. This stress can cause extra wear and tear on the joints, allowing arthritis to set in.
- Lack of activity can also allow arthritis to develop in your dog’s joints. It is important to keep your dog active as lack of exercise can advance the arthritis and its degenerative effects.
- Age is a contributing factor in many cases of canine arthritis. The normal use of the joints over time can deplete the natural lubricants and tissue that exist for the aide of movement.
Caring for Your Dog’s Joints
Whether your dog has arthritis or you simply want to prevent the onset of the disease, there are a variety of tools that can be utilized in his care.
- Medication is available for dogs with arthritis. Every year it seems there are more medications added to the approved list for canine arthritis treatment. There are a variety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) that can reduce the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. There are also corticosteroids available for the treatment of arthritis, but with the development of newer drugs they’re typically only used for older dogs whose arthritis flare-ups can’t be controlled by any other means.
- Dietary supplements are widely used in the treatment and prevention of canine arthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most commonly used supplements as is the addition of Omega-3 fatty acids to a dog’s diet.
- Weight management is one of the key ways a dog owner can both prevent and reduce the effects of arthritis on their dog. Reduced caloric intake and exercise are keys to weight control. By maintaining a healthy weight there will be less impact upon your dog’s joints.
- Exercise is important to both preventing and lowering the impact of arthritis on your dog. The activity will allow him to retain his range of motion in his joints as he ages and in an arthritic dog, can keep him moving and active.
- Providing a warm place for your dog to sleep can prevent the onset of arthritis and can keep movement in the joints of an arthritic dog. Keeping the muscles and tendons warm promotes blood flow and encourages movement.
Joint care is important whether your dog is predisposed to arthritis or not. By providing the appropriate dietary balance and adequate exercise for your dog, you can keep him moving by your side at a healthy clip for a long time.