What is Dog Arthritis?
Dog arthritis is similar to arthritis in humans. It causes joint paint due to damage in the joint. The causes of the damage and the type of damage vary with the type of arthritis. To understand each, it is important to understand how a joint works.
Joints are made up several essential elements working together in a system. The most obvious elements are the bones that connect at a joint. The joint acts as a hinge between the bones. Holding the bones together and in alignment are the ligaments. These strong connective tissues attach to each bone like super-strong rubber bands, and hold the bones in place, while allowing movement in specific directions. When bones rub together, the bones will wear. This is extremely painful, so the bones have a cushion of cartilage between them. The bones rub on the cartilage and not each other. This protects the bones. Additionally, the cartilage is very smooth, allowing the bones to slide across with very little friction. This protects both the cartilage and the bones. To further improve the slickness of the cartilage, the cartilage is surrounded by synovial fluid. This fluid acts as a lubricant and prevents wear and tear on the joint. The synovial fluid also transports nutrients to the cartilage. Cartilage does not have any blood vessels, so the only way nutrients can get to the cartilage is through the synovial fluid. This makes the fluid critical to the health of the cartilage and the joint as a whole. Finally, the joint is surrounded by the synovial membrane that encapsulates the joint and keeps the synovial fluid in place.
All the elements of a joint need to be in good shape for the joint to work properly. If there is damage to any element, swelling and pain will typically result. If the damage is severe, the joint may fail to work properly, and the dog may limp, or in the worst cases, be unable to walk. If the joint is not working properly or sustains an injury, damage to the cartilage will occur. Two of the most critical building blocks for healthy cartilage are glucosamine and chondroitin. Because of the criticality of glucosamine and chondroitin to healthy cartilage, these amino sugars have been used as supplements to promote and restore healthy cartilage and joints.
Arthritis in Dogs, The Arthritis Foundation (accessed 8/2011)
Glucosamine and Chondroitin, About.com (accessed 8/2011)
Glucosamine, University of Maryland Medical Center (accessed 8/2011)
Chondroitin, University of Maryland Medical Center (accessed 8/2011)