Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints in your dog’s body, most often in older dogs. But it can also happen in younger dogs. It may develop when a joint doesn’t develop properly or an injury occurs, causing damage to the cartilage and bone. It’s important to keep your dog’s joints healthy so they can be as active and flexible as possible.
The pain from arthritis can be debilitating, especially in elderly pets. It can cause a pet to be grumpy and slow down, or even be reluctant to play. It can also make your pet very tired and difficult to get up from lying down.
Symptoms of arthritis in pets are varied and can be subtle, so it’s important to know what to look out for and what to call your vet. A veterinarian will examine your dog to determine if arthritis is the cause of their symptoms, and will often do X-rays or other scans to confirm the diagnosis and see how a joint is being affected by the disease.
Weight Management and Exercise
Loss of muscle tone and weight can worsen arthritic conditions, so weight management is essential to help maintain good mobility in your pet. A diet low in fat and high in fiber, along with some light physical activity, will help keep your dog’s joints supple.
Your Randolph vet will recommend a healthy, low-calorie diet that provides your dog with enough nutrients to remain active and strong. We also recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, which can reduce inflammation and help manage pain and swelling.
Be sure to monitor your dog’s behavior and ask for feedback when things don’t seem right. Your veterinarian will want to know which symptoms you’ve noticed, how severe they are and when they started.
Your pet may stop grooming because the movements of their joints hurt so much. They may lick or chew the painful areas, which can lead to bald spots and inflamed skin. They may become irritable or bite or snap when you pet them, so it’s important to revise how you pet them and how much they’re handled to minimize their discomfort.
Your dog’s legs may suddenly appear to limp before and after walks or when running or playing. It can be a definite sign of arthritic joints, but it can also happen when your dog is recovering from an injury or getting up after lying down for a long time.
Your pets movement may feel stiff and jerky, especially when they jump or run. They may have trouble navigating stairs, as the arthritic joints will be less flexible and unable to support them.
In some cases, it may be necessary to have your dog’s feet trimmed or re-groomed to allow them more movement in their arthritic joints and decrease pain. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe medications that can help with these types of issues.
A holistic approach to treating arthritis in pets involves a combination of methods such as weight management, exercise, joint supplements, prescription medication and physical therapy. Your vet will work with you to customize these approaches to your pet’s needs.