As dogs grow older, there are a number of conditions that they are prone to develop, chief among them is canine arthritis. If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, you may be looking for potential treatment options to help ease the pain and discomfort your dog is experiencing.
However, as a dog owner that does not have veterinary medicine experience, it can be difficult to ascertain which treatment options are safe to try out without inflicting greater harm than healing. This guide discusses what arthritis is, signs of arthritis in dogs, and what you can give your dog for arthritis pain.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term that is used to describe joints that have experienced abnormal changes. Arthritis can develop as a result of the destruction or deterioration of joint tissue due to an infection, from trauma or stress to joint surfaces and supporting structures, or from congenital defects that affect the structure of the joint. Arthritis can also develop from some immune disorders that lead to inflammation and degeneration within the joint tissue.
Arthritis can be painful and uncomfortable, particularly in more severe cases. The elastic tissues within the joint will become stiff and hardened, which can cause a buildup of calcium deposits and pain within the nerve endings. As arthritis becomes more severe, range of motion often declines and it becomes painful and uncomfortable to move due to joint regeneration. Often, the pain will restrict use even further, which further deteriorates the mobility in the joint.
Arthritis varies on a case-by-case basis depending upon where the arthritis is occurring, the severity, and the unique genetic composition of the dog. Hip dysplasia in dogs is common and the arthritis is often partially due to misaligned stress points of the coxofemoral joint and abnormal conformation. This results in cartilage that wears away faster than it can regenerate, causing the bony layer of underlying cushioning cartilage to become exposed and inflamed.
Signs of Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis develops differently in each dog, but there are a handful of common symptoms that dogs display when they are suffering from arthritis that may alert their owners that they need medical care. Below are some of the most common signs that a dog is suffering from arthritis:
- Licking, chewing, or biting the affected area
- Muscle atrophy
- Spinal issues
- Difficulty moving
What You Can Give Your Dog for Arthritis Pain
It is important to note that no medication or treatment should be attempted without first consulting a licensed veterinarian to be sure that it is safe and appropriate for your dog’s unique circumstances. Below are some of the commonly prescribed treatments for dogs with arthritis pain:
Just as with human beings, dogs can also benefit from receiving supplements, provided they are in the right dose, are safe for canine consumption, and do not interact with any other medications being ingested. For arthritis, some veterinarians may recommend Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements.
While these supplements will not correct the structural damage to the joint, it may help decrease inflammation and improve the body’s ability to repair and strengthen the existing tissue. However, it will not aid in reversing calcium deposits, advanced scar tissue, or torn cartilage.
Some veterinarians may also suggest supplements be added to the diet of the affected dog, such as the addition of Vitamin E, Omega Fatty Acids, and Selenium. Before giving any supplements, it is important to check their safety and the correct dosage with a licensed veterinarian.
Some veterinarians may prescribe steroids to help reduce the swelling and inflammation in the affected joints. Common steroids prescribed by veterinarians include Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and other corticosteroids. Upon physical examination and after conducting necessary tests, your veterinarian will discuss potential treatment options with you. If steroids are recommended, they will communicate which steroid they recommend and what dosage.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, Etogestic, and Rimadyl, and may be prescribed by some veterinarians in the treatment of arthritis pain. It is important not to give these medications to your dog without consulting a licensed veterinarian first to ensure they are safe and determine what the correct dosage is. If administered improperly, these drugs can have detrimental side effects for your dog.