Arthritis in dogs

Arthritis in dogs is a progressive disease. Now that dogs are living much longer, due to the advances in veterinary science and care, there are a great many senior dogs in which this condition develops, my old dog Pippa included! This is unfortunately something that I have had to watch develop in Pip to a present day level where by she is severely affected by it. My previous dog Ben was also affected, particularly in a leg he had previously injured, but nothing like as severe as Pip is. She has arthritis in her hips, fore leg and her spine (spondylitis). The spondylitis is severe, very painful and has caused a curvature of her spine.

Arthritis in dogs is caused by the same causes that affect humans - mainly wear and tear but earlier cases can be caused by a previous injury. Within a dogs joint, cartilage surrounds the bone along with synoval fluid. When one bone rubs against another with movement the bones are provided with an extremely efficient low friction movement. Infact cartilage is such a smooth material that the friction between two surfaces has been reported to be five times less than the friction of ice gliding on ice!

However, through wear and tear, the usually smooth cartilage lining the end of the bones in the joints usually wastes away, eventually exposing the bone. Your old dogs joint then becomes painful, inflamed and stiff

Arthritis in dogs can be a very gradual progression and it is quite likely that you would miss the early stages due to dogs not being able to tell you if they are in pain. The first obvious signs is a stiffness and difficulty in getting up after resting, especially first thing in the morning. Your dog also might start limping when walking, again usually after getting up after resting and especially in the morning.

What can be done to help your dog?

There are many treatment available but it depends on how advanced the arthritis is. Firstly, the most important advice is do not let your dog get overweight! This will put extra strain on the joints and make their condition worse. Other basic advice includes to always provide a warm comfortable bed with plenty of bedding to protect sore joints, keep your dog as dry as possible out of drafts and avoid vigorous exercise.

Dog arthritis products can be of great help and are the main way of treating this condition. The are mainly either supplements which help prevent and treat arthritis or those which are designed to treat the symptoms. Arthritis products for dogs come mainly in the form of supplements or medication whether in chew, tablet or liquid form. A quick search on the internet will provide hundreds of products. The key here is, like products aimed at humans, be aware of wild claims, grossly exaggerated results and use common sense.

My own view based on experience is that many food supplements such as glucosamine and green lipped mussel help ease the symptoms early on, but will not help much in the later stages. In other words, they work well up to a point. I found green lipped mussel to be particularly helpful in the early stages. Glucosamine and chondroitin were good too. Another product which is reported to be good, although I have not had any experience with, is MSM or methylsulfonylmethane to be exact. Regular supplementaion from middle age is thought by many to prevent and control the development of arthritis in dogs.

The most commonly prescribed product for dogs with more advanced arthritis is Rymadyl which I have used with my dog with good results. It is a daily anti inflammatory and pain killer.

The best product I have found so far is a course of injections called Cartrophen Vet. There is no daily taking of tablets and the treatment involves a course of four injections administered by your vet which can last for up to six months - so no daily taking of pills. After approximately six months they have a booster jab. It is supposed to not just treat the pain and inflammation, but can actually help to regenerate the joint. I have really noticed a difference with my dog following a course of injections and am extremely impressed with the result. She now wants to play again and I have to tell her to slow down! The reduction in stiffness of Pippa's joints on rising in the morning has been very noticeable. This result is with my dog in the advanced stages of canine arthritis as well. I have also noticed a similar product on the market is called Adequan Canine.

The main thing to remember is that no product will completely eliminate the symptoms of arthritis in dogs but the symptoms can certainly be eased and the quality of life improved for your old doggie friend.

Further quality information on Canine Arthritis and other health problems can be found at the Dog Health Handbook, a helpful reference for common dog diseases and conditions.

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