Just like humans, the ends of our pet’s bones are covered by cartilage, which is constantly breaking down and being replaced. Osteoarthritis, also referred to as arthritis, disrupts this process - cartilage breaks down quicker, and is replaced far more slowly, which creates inflammation and pain. While arthritis in dogs cannot be cured, there are treatment options to help reduce ongoing damage to cartilage, reduce inflammation and support the bones and joints.
As dogs start to get older and move into their senior years it’s important to modify the amount and intensity of their exercise, says Tim Norris, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner & Registered Acupuncturist from Both Ends of the Lead. “For example, throwing a ball for an older dog significantly increases the risk of injury and joint damage for them, which can lead to arthritis. This makes stopping vigorous chase and tug games as they become older a useful preventative measure.”
He says while it’s true that some breeds appear to be more susceptible to arthritis, the reality is arthritis can affect all breeds of dogs at any age – he says he’s worked with dogs as young as two with the condition.
As treating the condition as early as possible is best for your pet’s wellbeing, look out for the common signs and symptoms, and see your vet for diagnosis and a treatment plan promptly. What to watch for:
A pet rehabilitation expert can treat your arthritic dog in partnership with your vet and teach you a range of strategies to help relieve your pet’s discomfort. Learning some simple massage techniques can be a highly effective way to relieve the pain and discomfort of arthritis and be an important pain management strategy. “Something as simple as a heat pack can help to relieve soreness and stiffness in your dog’s joints and it’s a really simple practical way of helping your older dog,” says Norris.
Other remedies? He recommends acupuncture to help keep muscles and joints healthy, mobile and pain free. “Adding a few gentle strength exercises and even some stretching can be a great way to help older dog’s muscles and joints stay healthy and even help slow the progression of arthritis. We teach many dog owners how to combine practical ‘hands-on’ techniques including massage, acupressure, stretching and heat packs to help prevent or relieve the pain of arthritis from affecting their dog,” says Tim.
Supplements including glucosamine and chondroitin can help support and protect your furry friend's joints by slowing cartilage breakdown and providing building blocks for cartilage repair. Ensure your supplement has a therapeutic dose of both glucosamine and chondroitin, that it has been specifically developed for pets, and that your vet is satisfied it is safe for your pet.
While you may not be able to prevent your pet from developing arthritis altogether, there is plenty you can do to help reduce the impact it has on your four-legged friend’s life. Talk to your vet who can recommend a treatment plan, a rehabilitation specialist, and quality supplements in conjunction with any medications they may prescribe.