Canine Arthritis - White Paper
Arthritis is a common disease in
cats and dogs. Arthritis is the medical terminology for joint inflammation and
pain. There are various kinds of arthritis such as infectious (poly)arthritis,
autoimmune arthritis and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis
is the most common type and is caused by damage to the cartilage (soft surface
of bone ends) in joints. Osteoarthritis
in dogs is generally associated with aging and large
breeds. However, it is a specific disease observed in dogs of all ages, sizes
and shapes. In fact arthritis affects up to 20% of dogs over 1 year of age, and dogs
have a 65% chance of developing arthritis between 7 to 11 years of age. Dog arthritis is a slowly progressive,
painful disease. Due to its association with the aging process
it is often overlooked as a specific
health problem. Although arthritis cannot be cured, it is successfully manageable
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint,
including hips, elbows, and stifles, but also vertebrae, carpal joints, tarsal
joints, and even metacarpophalangeal (wrist) and metatarsophalangeal
along the vertebral
column are also prone to arthritis, so look for signs of pain and spondylosis along
cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spinal segments, and at the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral
osteoarthritis there is a continuous state of inflammation in the joint,
cartilage degenerates and bony proliferations or spurs may form to try and
stabilize the joint.
causes of arthritis are numerous. In aging dogs, wear and tear are the common
culprits of joint degeneration. Accidents, trauma, excessive exercise (sports dog), joint instability, joint
deformity or congenital disease can predispose to osteoarthritis in younger
animals. Examples of conditions frequently leading to osteoarthritis are orthopedic
surgery, joint fractures, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament
rupture, patella (kneecap) subluxation, osteochondrosis, obesity, malnutrition
and poor breeding.
symptoms of arthritis are pain and reduced mobility. These symptoms may not be
visible in the initial phases of the disease since the dog may compensate and
mask pain with muscle tension. For early diagnosis, ask your veterinarian to
perform a full pain assessment and muscle palpation exam during annual check up
of your pet. Warning signs for arthritis are frequently observed as follows: Stiff,
sore, limping, lame, unbalanced gait. Difficulty getting up, laying down,
climbing stairs. Reluctant to go for a walk or lagging. Hesitant to jump (in
the car). Weak hips, back pain. Swollen joints. Yelping or resistance to touch.
Licking joints. Voiding problems. Eating problems (difficulty lowering head to
bowl). Overweight, underweight. Depressed or sleepy, reduced activity.
If you note these symptoms in
your dog, consult with a veterinarian and have the underlying cause of pain determined;
ruling out other disease such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer), osteomyelitis,
synovitis, infection or injury. Most likely, your veterinarian will confirm
diagnosis with X-ray.
It is important for you to
understand that osteoarthritis is a lifelong disease that cannot be cured but can
be managed successfully. With the right therapeutic plan, arthritis pain does
not have to be part of the normal aging process. You can take charge and
provide quality of life to your dog. We recommend a multiprong approach
consisting of pain management, weight loss, joint supplements, rehabilitation and
exercise and a good pet bed. This allows you to get the pain under control, to
strengthen the joints and get your dogs mobility back.
Pain management can be accomplished with prescription drugs, nutraceutical
supplements, chiropractic or acupuncture, and comfortable place to rest.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAID) can be prescribed by your veterinarian. These drugs can have severe
side effects and cause liver, renal and GI toxicity. You should closely monitor
your dog while on these medications and blood work should be done prior to the
start of treatment and at any time of concern. Never give your pet human
medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Pets have different
sensitivities to these drugs and may suffer severe side effects (stomach ulceration,
bleeding and puncture, renal damage, vomiting, diarrhea).
joint supplements are a great alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. A balanced,
complete supplement such as DogPawR Hip & Joint Complex offers both pain relief as
well as the nutritional building blocks to strengthen joint health without the
side effects. Chondrocytes are the cells of the cartilage. Chondrocytes produce
the macromolecules collagen and proteoglycans. Chondrocytes and these
macromolecules provide the smooth surface on bone ends in joints and also
produce the joints lubricating synovial fluid. Providing supplements that
contain the nutritional precursors such as GLM are essential as they are the
rate limiting step in the maintenance and repair of joints. Therefore it is mandatory to provide these
supplements daily, preventive and therapeutic lifelong.
care such as acupuncture and chiropractic, including laser therapy offer great
pain relief. These therapies are noninvasive
and non-traumatic and are effective at getting the pain under control, even in
comfortable place to rest is just as important to you as to your dog. Pet beds with therapeutic memory foam such as
Dog Pedic offer the right support, alleviate pressure points and are muscle
relaxing. Furthermore, you may want to elevate your pets food bowl in order to
prevent neck strain while eating.
Weight loss is an important treatment modality in obese dogs with
osteoarthritis. With a calorie restricted diet and even modest weight loss
(6-8%), a significant improvement in lameness was observed in a clinical study.
Rehabilitation and gentle, regular exercise are key. Rehabilitation can help reverse
loss of strength and mobility while maintaining cardiovascular fitness. Physical
therapy programs comprise swimming, walking, underwater treadmills, etc. Dont
overdo it, a walk of a couple of blocks twice daily, will benefit both of you.
Free the body, clear the mind.
Surgery is an invasive an expensive treatment alternative. Surgical joint replacement is an option in
certain cases such as hip dysplasia. Other
techniques include joint fusion and arthroscopic surgery. Methods such as intra
artricular stem cell or gene therapy are also actively explored in order to
delay joint degeneration.
Pets are significant family members in todays society. It is important to us
to keep our pets comfortable and to offer them quality of life. Arthritis care
of your dog takes commitment but is a gratifying experience.