When Arthritis Attacks Your Dog
by David P Lee
As a dog begins to age or suffers constant stiffness or has a disability, watching their arthritic decline is heart wrenching. This disease progresses at a slow pace, beginning with a discomfort that is hard to pinpoint. The worst cases turn into an animal not being able to stand, walk about, or even eat their meals. There are many forms that arthritis comes in with different underlying causes. When it comes to cats and dogs, arthritis can strike any breed or age.
While humans seem to commonly experience arthritis through autoimmune rheumatism, dogs too suffer from this condition. Lyme disease and primary cartilage degeneration in young dogs are other common causes, joined by one of the most striking degenerative osteoarthritis. As animals get older, their bony joints don't move as smoothly, causing bony spurs to emerge, which work towards alleviating affected joints. It is the unstable joints and bony proliferations that cause pain in an animal as they attempt to move.
When arthritis attacks, your pet is usually unable to express this pain. Older dogs and cats do not moan and groan about achy joints. Sometimes, displaying difficulty getting up and down is a sign. If they have problems climbing stairs, jumping onto furniture, getting into the car, or seem sore after exercise, you may suspect arthritis. Your pet may even become grumpy, which is why a yearly checkup for older dogs and cats is a must.
With some types of arthritis (like OCD, hip dysplasia, and rheumatoid arthritis), treatments that involve surgery and medicine work well. However, degenerative osteoarthritis has no cure. An affected animal has no choice but to live the rest of their life on anti-inflammatory drugs that include aspirin, phenylbutazone, Feldene, and when it becomes worse cortisone-like options. Yet, some owners have found benefits in turning towards natural therapeutic treatments, which have proven to ease pain, slow down disease progression, delay the need for drugs, and reduce the medications that may cause serious side effects.
A common initial approach is to change all food to a rather high quality of natural diet selections, while the best dog food is made in the home using recipes illustrated in books by Pitcairn and Volhard. Most dogs that suffer pain undergo a great change after switching their diet. The next step is to administer glucosamine supplements, which work to fortify the cartilage associated with damaged or disease-ridden joints. A veterinarian can point you in the right direction usually suggesting brands like Cosequin and Glycoflex. To treat pathologic inflammation, antioxidant vitamins are also good, especially when used in combination of homeopathic treatments.
When it comes to arthritis, the subject of herbal treatments often arises. Pet owners ask about this approach, yet numerous holistic veterinarians believe herbs are not as useful as nutritional changes and working on the body. If you are thinking about herbal treatments, check with a professional veterinarian who is well versed in Eastern herbal prescription choices.
The majority of animals suffering from arthritis (or other musculoskeletal conditions) try to relieve constant pain by twisting about their spines. These sorts of pets will truly appreciate the occasional chiropractic attention. The animals that undergo moderate to severe pain have also responded well to acupuncture treatments.
Arthritis is not a death sentence and can be contained when a blend of natural and conventional approaches are followed. It is very important to slow down the advancement of this disease by enforcing a healthy diet and administering glucosamine supplements in the early stages. If you notice that your pet is a bit "stiff," make sure to speak with a veterinarian very quickly.
Note: This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.