Arthritis is a common chronic health condition that can significantly affect your dog’s quality of life. It is more common in older dogs and can go undiagnosed or treated for a long time, so it is vital to visit the vet when you suspect your pet has arthritis.
There are many veterinary treatments available for osteoarthritis dogs arthritis treatment and all need to be considered on an individual basis. The most effective and safest treatment plan is one that is formulated for your dog’s age, medical history, severity of symptoms and progression of the disease.
Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed and are a key part of many successful treatment plans for osteoarthritis. However, they must be administered with careful monitoring of the liver and kidney function. They may cause gastrointestinal disturbances including vomiting, diarrhea and melena (dark tarry stool).
Prescription diets: There are many commercially available prescription diets with ingredients to help improve joint mobility. These contain Glucosamine, Chondroitin sulphate and Fish oils that can reduce inflammation over time. They also contain polysulfated glycosaminoglycans that help repair damaged cartilage.
Exercise / Rehabilitation: It is important to continue regular controlled exercise for dogs with arthritis. Leash walking, swimming or a combination of these can be a very beneficial and therapeutic activity to keep the joints moving freely. Hydrotherapy using a treadmill is often very useful for dogs who find walking too difficult.
Massage: A trained professional can offer gentle massage to the affected areas of the body to relax muscles and relieve pain. It can also be used to warm up the dog before attempting other exercises or to assist the healing process.
Acupuncture: The theory behind acupuncture is that energy flows through the body in a certain pattern and if these meridians are misaligned this can lead to pain or discomfort. Acupuncture is an alternative and increasingly popular form of dog arthritis treatment that can be very effective for reducing pain and improving mobility in many dogs.
Surgery: If the arthritis is due to an injury or there is no improvement with other treatment options then surgical repair of the damaged joints can be recommended as a more permanent solution to your dog’s pain. The exact procedure will depend on the cause and location of your dog’s arthritis but can include a hip replacement.
Nutrition: The right diet can also be very beneficial for your dog and can help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. A veterinarian can prescribe a diet that contains ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and omega-3 fatty acids to help support the cartilage and joints in dogs with arthritis.
Weight loss: A dog’s weight can affect their joints and can put additional pressure on them causing more pain, therefore keeping weight off is a vital part of treatment. If your dog is overweight they may need to be on a diet that has an emphasis on lean proteins and low fats, as well as being lower in carbohydrates.