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Osteoarthritis in dogs: The symptoms and recommended treatment

Osteoarthritis in dogs is a condition that especially affects the elderly and also those who are overweight. In the same way that it affects humans, the disease ends up with the quality of life of puppies, this happens because there is wear and tear on the joints.

The disease is considered degenerative, as there is an increase in joint fluid, cartilage erosion and osteophyte formation that generate chronic pain that is relieved only with certain medications, compresses and exercises.

However, there are other ways to ease the pain felt by puppies, however, for that, you need to take some radical measures such as: Changing food, eliminating excess weight and strengthening joint health.

It is important to note that osteoarthritis is different from arthritis. In arthrosis, the joint is affected chronically, that is, gradually. While in the case of arthritis, it is the inflammation of a joint in the form of crises, the pain may disappear after treatment.

However, both can occur on the wrists, knees, elbows. coxofemoral and in more aggravated cases, in the spine.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs?

When a human is in pain, he speaks up and seeks medical help. However, puppies do not have this privilege, they depend on the owner’s eyes. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to behavior that indicates some abnormality.

The pain is chronic and progressive, it can significantly compromise the motor locomotion of the dogs, when in an advanced process.

However, right at the onset of symptoms, it may become more difficult to detect, as the dog tends to shift the weight of the diseased joint to another healthy one, only with the passage of time and the evolution of the disease, they may show some symptoms.

The first signs of osteoarthritis in dogs are usually:

  • Walking harder;
  • hunched posture;
  • Difficulty making small movements;
  • Denial when going up or down stairs, sometimes the owner may think it’s laziness, but it’s one of the symptoms of arthrosis;
  • Apathy, the puppy no longer wants to play and walk;
  • Very tired;
  • Delay in getting up;
  • Lack of appetite in some cases, especially when the pain is severe;

When noticing any of these symptoms, it is essential to take the puppy to the veterinarian to verify through clinical and image exams what is happening.

Among experts, it is speculated that the main causes of arthrosis in dogs may be:

– Genetics – Hereditary factors are highly relevant in this regard, especially hip dysplasia, which is practically present in all large dogs. When the little animal grows quickly and becomes very large, it creates this predisposition to suffer from cartilage wear.

– Lifestyle – A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight take a heavy toll over the years, both in humans and dogs. Proof of this is that experts confirm that as soon as weight is lost, it is possible to notice a good improvement in pain.

– Age and breed – The old age of dogs can have some consequences on cartilage, in addition, there are breeds that are more predisposed to develop this condition, such as the German Shepherd, Labrador and Rottweiler.

Osteoarthritis treatment in dogs

In humans, osteoarthritis has no cure, only control, and in dogs, the condition is also irreversible. The goal of treatment is to slow the inflammation down and cause even more pain over time.

To improve the quality of life of the dog, veterinarians try to treat the root of the problem by stipulating some actions that are extremely necessary to alleviate the pain and the continuity of wear, they are:

1- Medicines to reduce pain

Generally, the veterinarian assesses the need to indicate anti-inflammatories. Before that, natural remedies such as vitamins, minerals and collagen are taken into account, as these do not have unwanted side effects.

However, only specialists can indicate this treatment, it is not recommended to medicate the dog on its own, it could suffer serious consequences due to the side effects.

2- Insertion of physical activity

According to specialists, dogs cannot stand still, they need to exercise their legs, as a sedentary lifestyle further damages arthrosis.

Obviously you can’t force the dog to run and do very intense activities, the goal is for him to take short and frequent walks, exercises to maintain strength, flexibility and muscle strengthening.

To help with the exercise program, it is essential to enlist the help of a dog physiotherapist or a veterinarian. That way, the risks of hurting your friend is reduced.

3- Overweight dogs should lose weight

The first measure that must be taken, if the puppy that is suffering from arthrosis is overweight, is to lose weight.

The veterinarian will evaluate the diet and indicate a special feed so that he loses weight in a healthy way and with that, reduces the pain significantly.

Weight loss is ranked as one of the most effective treatments for reducing osteoarthritis pain, as it helps prevent cartilage damage, thereby improving hand-eye coordination.

It is important that the measures are taken as soon as possible, as the delay can cause more damage to the cartilage, making it more difficult to return to movement and relieve pain.

4- Supplements and special diet

Some experts recommend other measures to treat osteoarthritis in dogs , as there are some supplements that can help restore the quality of life of pets, they are:

  • Vitamin K2 – Reduces bone loss and significantly improves bone mineralization by preventing cartilage calcification;
  • Hyaluronic Acid – Lubricates the cartilage and prevents the appearance of synovitis, a condition that aggravates joint pain;
  • Omega 3 – Reduces inflammation in the body and protects cartilage from degradation;
  • Glucosamine – Accelerates cartilaginous metabolism;
  • Chondroitin sulfate – Acts in the control of enzymes that destroy cartilage, it is generally used simultaneously with glucosamine;

In the diet, moderate consumption of fats and calories are also recommended to reduce weight and stress. In addition, the use of fiber and protein in meals is increased to increase satiety and muscle mass.

Through this dietary care, positive reports of improvement in the disposition and mobility of the puppies were presented.

5- Veterinary Physiotherapy

Another very common format in treatment for osteoarthritis is physiotherapy, considered by many veterinarians to be the best way to end pain and improve the dog’s mobility.

The techniques used aim at the rehabilitation of the animal, where specialized professionals use safe strategies with the use of hands or specific equipment.

Massage in dogs, especially in older ones, is ideal for strengthening muscle tone, reducing flaccidity due to advanced age and improving blood circulation. In this way, it helps to reduce the stiffness of the joints and reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis.

There are still strategies such as massage therapy, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, acupuncture , ozone therapy and electrotherapy that help keep the dog more active to perform simple activities.

6- Hot compresses

Applying heat packs can help reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis. You can also lightly massage the region and avoid high-impact exercises.

Pain relief will give more comfort to dogs, who are usually stressed and aggressive when seizures strike.

To do so, follow the instructions:

  • Put hot water in a bottle;
  • Wrap in a towel;
  • Place this rolled-up bottle against the puppy’s affected joint;
  • You can leave it on top of his bed, to heat the place;
  • Ideally, use the compress for 20 minutes, 3 times a day;

Especially in winter, it is essential to keep the dog’s corner warm, as low temperatures tend to worsen joint pain.

7- Treat him with affection

Keep giving your puppy the same amount of attention, that way he won’t feel abandoned and sad. Usually, osteoarthritis in dogs causes eminent demotivation in pets, so it is essential that they still feel useful.

Play games that they can still participate in, encourage moderate physical activity and lovingly care for your pet. Remember that the only way to prevent the disease is a healthy routine, this includes physical activity, good nutrition and constant visits to the veterinarian.

Dogs that already have the predisposition to develop the problem should be cared for more carefully, especially not allowing them to gain too much weight.

Pay attention to your puppy, very sudden changes in behavior can suggest a number of illnesses. The sooner a problem is detected, the better the treatment prognosis.

For dogs that do not show any symptoms, the veterinarian can develop a control and supervision plan to monitor the appearance of diseases as the dog ages. Being one step ahead can be definitive in achieving quality of life.



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