Like humans, canines can also suffer from arthritis. This condition causes the joints to become inflamed, leading to lingering pain, poor mobility, and discomfort. It’s often observed among aging dogs, but younger ones aren’t fully invincible. The key here is knowing how to prevent arthritis in dogs, so you can delay its onset as much as possible.
Take note that there’s no cure for canine arthritis. Also, there’s no absolute way to avoid or prevent it from happening. Still, weight management, proper diet, and regular veterinary care will help reduce your pet’s risk of developing the condition.
In this post, I discussed canine arthritis, what you can do to prevent it, and how to care for an arthritic dog.
What is canine arthritis?
Arthritis in canines is pretty much like the same thing humans experience. It makes the joint painful, swollen, and unstable. This is mainly due to cartilage damage within the joints, causing the bones to rub with each other.
The friction from the rubbing bones causes spurs to grow around the joints. This will make your dog’s joints stiffer and movement will be painful.
Moreover, joint cartilage damage is often associated with wear and tear as the dog grows older. This is why canine arthritis is often seen on senior dogs.
Still, younger dogs may develop arthritis early. It’s possible if the dog is born with abnormal cartilage development or if the doggo suffered from joint trauma or injuries.
Dogs suffering from arthritis will be reluctant to exercise. You’ll also notice stiffness on the joints and the doggo will keep licking the affected areas.
Aside from that, the symptoms of arthritis often get worse when it’s cold or damp. This is because the cold temperature makes the joint fluids thicker and more sensitive to pain.
How to prevent arthritis in dogs
The early onset of arthritis can be prevented or delayed with proactive steps. If you want to save your dog from the early signs of arthritis, here are some steps you can take:
1. Avoid excessive pressure on the joints
To prevent arthritis, you should help your dog avoid excessive pressure on its joints. You should discourage your dog from jumping too high or running too fast. Anything that will subject the joints to excessive force should be avoided if possible.
This is very crucial, especially if your dog’s breed is prone to orthopedic problems. Some of these breeds are Bull Terrier, Bulldogs, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, and Golden Retriever. Basically, all large and stocky breeds have a higher risk of developing arthritis.
For these canines, it’s important to provide ramps or cubes that will help them climb up to elevated surfaces. Also, you shouldn’t let your dog jump off the car often. Instead, you should carry the pooch down to prevent unnecessary force to its joints.
2. Watch over your dog’s weight
Weight management is a crucial component of arthritis prevention in dogs. This is because the excess weight will put more strain on your pet’s joints. It will lead to faster wear and tear of the joint cartilage, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
Breeds like Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and the likes are prone to obesity. This is due to their ravenous appetite and stocky build. If you don’t watch out over their diet, these canines may succumb to the early onset of arthritis.
This is why it’s important to come up with a diet plan that suits your dog’s needs. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best person to consult for this part.
3. Consider giving joint supplements
Aside from a healthy diet, you can also consider giving your dog joint supplements as prescribed by its veterinarian. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin help maintain a healthy cartilage structure. While it’s not the sole solution against arthritis, these supplements help a lot in slowing down cartilage damage.
The likes of Omega-3 fatty acids are also joint-friendly nutrients. It will help reduce inflammation while flushing out free radicals that could harm your dog’s health.
Take note that that joint supplements for dogs aren’t made equal. You should talk to your dog’s veterinarian first to discuss your pet’s unique needs.
4. Get existing orthopedic problems treated
If your dog has a pre-existing orthopedic problem, you should have it treated as soon as possible. Untreated orthopedic problems like fractures can speed up the development of arthritis in canines.
Make sure that your dog receives the proper treatment for this, whether it’s a splint or surgical correction. While you’ll have to pay for vet fees, it’s much better than subjecting your dog to life-long pain.
5. Keep your dog leashed in public spaces
If you’re taking your dog in public spaces, you should keep it leashed at all times. This way, your dog won’t run into oncoming traffic or fall from a high spot.
Leashing your dogs will also make it easy to break dog fights. While it’s not directly related to arthritis, such a benefit will save your dog from potential injuries.
6. Avoid slippery flooring
Another thing pet owners should avoid are slippery flooring. This type of flooring makes it hard for your dog to walk and maintain a good footing.
When your dog falls or slips, it can lead to injuries. Also, the extra effort to walk on the slippery floor taxes the joints too much.
With this, you should consider putting carpets or rugs on your slippery floors to assist your dog. This is very helpful, especially if your dog is already nearing seniorhood.
7. Provide orthopedic bedding
An orthopedic dog bed will also prevent arthritis in dogs. Unlike sleeping on the floor, this bed will disperse the pressure points on your dog’s joints. This way, your pet can sleep without putting too much strain on its joints and body as a whole.
Whether you have a puppy or an old doggo, a supportive bed is a great investment. It’s also advisable for dogs recovering from surgery and other health problems.
8. Consider therapeutic care
Lastly, you should consider therapeutic care the moment you notice initial signs of arthritis on your dog.
The likes of acupuncture, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, and massage will help reduce the discomfort of your dog. It’s also believed to slow down joint degeneration.
Still, you should know that therapeutic care is only an elective solution and not a cure. Once your dog shows signs of arthritis, it will progress no matter what. The only thing you can do is slow it down as much as possible.
How to care for an arthritic canine
If you’re like me who’s caring for an arthritic dog, the following hacks will help a lot:
- Don’t force your dog to move. Arthritis makes the joints unstable and painful. Forcing your dog to move and stand up won’t help all the time. If you want to encourage your dog to exercise, you should explore low-impact drills like hydrotherapy.
- Always consult the vet. Arthritis requires life-long management, which involves regular consultation with your dog’s veterinarian. The vet will provide pain medications as well as drugs to help with inflammation and stiffness of the joints.
- Make your home arthritic-friendly. You should install ramps, stairs, cubes, and other equipment that will help your arthritic dog climb surfaces. Aside from that, you should cover your slippery floors with carpeting or rugs.
- Change your dog’s routines. Arthritic dogs can no longer perform many physical activities they used to enjoy. This is why you should come up with a new routine that will cater to your pet’s condition while giving him the best quality of life possible.
- Plan for a diet change. Since arthritic dogs can no longer move as much as they used to, a diet change might be needed. This is to prevent obesity and to ensure that the canine receives ample nutrition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the leading cause of arthritis in dogs?
A: Aging and overuse are the main causes of arthritis in canines. While some cases of canine arthritis can’t be stopped, its onset can be delayed with proper care. Veterinary care is also crucial to ensure that your dog’s joints are in the best possible condition.
Q: How do I keep my dog’s joints healthy?
A: To keep your dog’s joints healthy, you should provide your pet with a healthy diet, ample exercise, and regular vet checks. Joint supplements will also help, but you should consult your dog’s vet first before use.
Q: Should you walk a dog with arthritis?
A: You can still walk a dog with arthritis, but make sure that the pace is slow and the route is short. Overall, walking is a great exercise for arthritic canines without taxing their joints too much. You can do it around the neighborhood or on the treadmill at home.
Q: At what age does canine arthritis usually start?
A: Around 80% of all dogs will start to experience early signs of arthritis by the age of 8. As the canine gets older, its symptoms of arthritis will get worse. In rare cases, dogs can exhibit signs of arthritis in their first year of life.
Q: Is heat or cold better for dogs with arthritis?
A: Heat therapy is the best option if your dog is suffering from arthritis. This will help loosen up the joints and reduce the pain. The vet can teach you how to perform heat therapy at home to relieve your dog’s discomfort.
Knowing how to prevent arthritis in dogs is something all pet owners should know. This will help delay the onset of the condition, so your dog can enjoy its prime years without too much pain. Consulting the vet, providing a proper diet, and maintaining a healthy weight is a good way to start.