What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?
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What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

Arthritis in dogs is caused by a combination of acute activity, prolonged activity, presence of an infection and genetic predisposition.  This combination varies with the dog and the type of arthritis.

Acute activity can lead to arthritis.  Acute forms of arthritis are the result of injuries to the dog.  For example, a dog that sustains a significant fall could have strained or torn ligaments.  This injury is a form of acute arthritis.  To prevent an acute arthritic injury, make sure your dog does not engage in activities that are prone to serious injury.

Degenerative arthritis builds gradually.  This can be a very slow process, often taking several years.  It is caused by the gradual deterioration of the cartilage and other elements of the joint.  You can help prevent degenerative arthritis by maintaining a consistent activity level with your dog, making sure your dog is not overweight and limiting activities that are prone to joint problems.

The degeneration of cartilage in dogs is a part of aging.  As dogs get older, they cannot produce glucosamine as well as they could when young.  Glucosamine is an amino sugar essential for making cartilage.  With insufficient glucosamine, a dog will not be able to maintain the cartilage properly. 

Acute and degenerative arthritis are different but also related.  Acute arthritis can lead to degenerative forms of arthritis.  Dogs that experience dislocated joints, ligament strains and tears and other injuries are much more likely to develop degenerative arthritis later in life.

Infections within a joint can also cause arthritis.  To reduce the risk of infection causing arthritis, make sure you quickly treat any injuries your dog sustains.  The most likely means for an infection to get into a joint is through a deep cut, such as a bite from another animal.  Treat cuts and bites quickly to prevent more serious problems from developing.

Unfortunately, many dogs are predisposed to developing arthritis due to genetic factors.  With some pure bred dogs, hip dysplasia is very likely outcome.  Screening the parents of the dog you are considering getting is a good first step.  Once you have a dog, there is little you can do to change the genetic factors.  All you can do is manage the dog’s activities and diet to reduce the risk of arthritis developing.

 

Causes and Management of Arthritis and Other Joint Diseases in Dogs, Doctors Foster and Smith – Pet Education (accessed 8/2011)
Arthritis in Dogs: Symptoms and Causes, WebMD (accessed 8/2011)

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