How can I tell if my dog has arthritis?
My dog is limping and in pain, does it have arthritis?
The best way to tell if your dog has arthritis or why he or she is limping and is in pain is to:
Take your dog to your veterinarian. Dogs limp for some very serious reasons:
- Your dog might have a non-visible internal injury. An anterior cruciate ligament injury, commonly referred to as an ACL tear, can quickly become worse without treatment.
- Your dog's kneecap may have come off track, which is known as a Luxating Patella. Some cartilage could have broken off within the joint and could be trapped within other cartilaginous elements of the joint.
- Your dog could have a laceration on it's paw and is limping to avoid the pain.
What is dog arthritis?
The primary type of dog arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a joint disease, a breakdown in synovial cartilage surrounding the joints.
Synovial cartilage acts
as a shock absorber and slippery surface. It allows the joint to
move back and forth smoothly, without pain. This cartilage is found at the end of the bones. You can see it in the picture to the right, separating the Femur bone from the Tibia bone.
Depending on it's age, bone could be worn away or have grown in new formations in the area of the affected joint. This usually results in the swelling of the joint, causing your dog pain.
What causes dog arthritis?
If your dog is older, osteoarthritis could be the cause of everyday regular wear and tear on the joints. Some other causes are:
- injury to an area which could lead to the joint weakening.
- a genetic disposition to osteoarthritis, such as hip dysplasia (very common in German Shepherd's hips).
- too much stress on the joint, possibly from being overweight.
If your Veterinarian has determined that your dog has Osteoarthritis, he or she may recommend the following:
- A scheduled exercise regimen to help reduce weight
- Changes in diet to help reduce weight and stress on the joint.
- Depending on how bad of a case (usually determined by x-rays), your Vet may recommend surgery.
- A dog arthritis medication, usually a NSAID (Non steroid anti-inflammatory drug) like Rymadyl, Zubrin or aspirin.
- A dog arthritis supplement like Osteo-Pet's glucosamine for dogs.