Arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis, or OA) is an extremely common, painful disease that affects about 25 % of dogs. It doesn’t matter if the dog is young or old, big or small, purebred or mixed.
Unfortunately, OA is a painful, progressive disease that cannot be cured. But the good news is that pain can be managed with a prescription course, and your dog can be made more comfortable. We’re learning more every day about canine OA. So, let’s start with what’s known to-date about osteoarthritis.
‘Osteo’ means ‘bone,’ ‘arthra’ means joint, and ‘itis’ means inflammation. Altogether, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition of one or more joints. OA is a result of poor joint structure from birth, traumatic injury or, most commonly, normal wear and tear on the joints as the dog ages. Obesity can contribute to OA pain or make it worse.
What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs?
- Limping or lameness.
- Stiff gait, likely to be worse after exercise and when first waking up.
- Groaning or caution when laying down or getting back up.
- Wary of you touching the joints affected.
- Muscle wasting.
The pain of OA is progressive: without intervention, it will worsen over time. But there are pain-management medicines made just for dogs. Most commonly, we will prescribe a canine nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Alternative treatments can be used including hydrotherapy which can ease pain. This will be discussed by your vet.
Bottom line: Your dog’s pain can be relieved. Remember, your dog’s history is key to determining an effective treatment plan, and YOU know a lot about your dog.