Arthritis in Dogs
Did you know that approximately 25-30% of dogs suffer from arthritis or hip dysplasia? The stiffness, pain and swelling in dogs with osteoarthritis are actually no different from that in a human being, except that a dog cannot express his pain by talking to you. Depending on their level of exercise and diets, some dogs can remain very healthy until their last days whilst others get very stiff and immobile within just a few years. Some breeds simply have a genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia and other osteoarthritic conditions.
Pets have a very high pain threshold because they are not able to tell us when and where they have pain. We can attack a headache with medicine before it becomes a problem. If we feel something wrong, we either tell someone or do something about it. A dog’s only option is either to bear the pain or sit still. Therefore, they must learn to deal with it. As their osteoarthritis pain becomes extreme, action should be taken right away.
Types of Dog Arthritis
• Osteoarthritis (also known as OA)
• Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)
• Hip Dysplasia
• Elbow (dysplasia)
• Knee (dysplasia)
• Knee (stifled joint)
• Hypertrophic arthritis
• Shoulder (degeneration)
• Wrist Arthritis (carpi)
• Kneecap (dislocation)
How Does Dog Osteoarthritis Occur?
The physiological changes are the same as they occur in the human body, essentially, the "breakdown" of the (protective) cartilage that covers the ends of the bones at the joint. Sometimes, the tissues that line the joint may also be inflamed. Osteoarthritis however is associated with the growth of new bone around a moveable joint and the deterioration of the cartilage.
Primary vs. Secondary Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Unlike humans, most pet osteoarthritis develops almost immediately after trauma to the body. The onset of osteoarthritis can and is often within weeks of even a minor injury as opposed to years for a human. This is referred to as secondary osteoarthritis compared to the primary osteoarthritis found in humans. Humans too are susceptible to secondary osteoarthritis after injury.
What is the Treatment for My Dog?
Typically a vet will prescribe NSAIDs (aspirin, aleve, motrin, etc.) for pain relief. But this will not be a permanent cure for your dog’s osteoarthritis and sometimes it may only make things worse for your dog. In the more severe cases of osteoarthritis, the vet may also suggest steroids or surgery, neither of which is risk-free. In fact, the prolonged use of these painkillers and steroids can cause serious side effects. Do not give your dog Tylenol (acetaminophen) as it can be toxic to animals.
Therefore, the best and first suggested course of action (just as in the case of human beings) is to start your dog on liquid glucosamine product, preferably with chondroitin, MSM and Aloe Vera Gel.