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Treatments for Arthritis in dogs

Posted by Admin on November 07, 2016  /   Posted in Blog

Arthritis arrives through most commonly, simple wear and tear in your pet’s joints.

With dogs, arthritis is a common problem especially as your dog gets older. At some stage, with older dogs, you’ll end up having to deal with it. This article has no miracle answer but will help you understand more about the symptoms and more importantly, learn ways you can help your dog.

Arthritis arrives through most commonly, simple wear and tear in your pet’s joints. They simply wear out over the years.  You will hear veterinarians refer to arthritis as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

With the dog’s joints, the bone surfaces have a thin layer of very smooth cartilage. This is lubricated with a small amount of joint fluid which then the surfaces to glide freely. As a dog starts to age, this very smooth cartilage becomes less smooth and erodes, which results in the bones rubbing each other. This then causes discomfort and inflammation to the dog.

Arthritis is technically non-inflammatory compared to the immune-mediated form of the condition, there is some inflammation involved in arthritis. Inflammation is simply characterized as the body’s response to injury or infection. In the common form of canine arthritis, there is normally damage to the joint cartilage. So the inflammation arises as a response to the damage. It is an attempt to heal the cartilage. But if the cause isn’t removed, the damage and therefore inflammation, followed by pain, continues.

Over a further period, this inflammation causes new bone to be laid down which is not precisely where it should be, causing yet more pain. This is called remodelling and it is a vicious painful cycle. This then limits the dogs movement even more – a condition vets will refer to as degenerative joint disease. This is simply what arthritis is.

Same as with humans, signs of arthritis can vary throughout the animal’s life and the results of a trauma in the early stages of life can onset joint problems as the dog gets older. If a particular joint is damaged through an accident i.e. car accident, or the dog was born with joints misaligned, this may not be able to repair itself. In cases where the animal is born with abnormally shaped bones or abnormally lax joints (dysplasia) , arthritis tends to appear a lot sooner and at a much younger age.

Once arthritis is there within your dog, no matter how, the treatment options are generally the same. The good news is, there are safe and effective ways to ease the pain without resorting to drugs or medications.

One thing to remember before you purchase a puppy – Arthritis can run along family lines and you should be careful to check the parents when purchasing a puppy. If the parents do not develop arthritis until much later in life years, chances are your pet wont either. Large dogs, however, do tend to develop arthritis a lot sooner than the smaller breeds. If a puppy grows too quickly, this can also lead to early onset of arthritis.

Lots of articles say the same thing about the symptoms; discomfort, stiffness, lameness, no longer keen to exercise, continuously licking the joints where the pain is, worse when damp or cold, but rarely do these affected joints appear hot or swollen; the changes are quite subtle and undetectable to the naked eye. Dogs tend to differ; some show obvious signs of pain, whereas others just become slower or grumpier.

One of the most common problems is arthritis coming from excess force on the joints. By this, we mean obesity. The excess weight means that the joints are over used and the extra weight means that the joints are over used causing an earlier onset of arthritis. If the dog is able to lose weight early on, the disease can even be stopped. It’s very difficult to spot an early onset so by the time you realise the dog is arthritic the condition could have been there some time.

The veterinarian profession is very good at diagnosing arthritis in dogs. They can often tell immediately which joints are affected through subtle signs such as simply flexing the joints and seeing the worried look in the dogs eyes; the dog flinches and growls when touching certain joints. The vet may notice that muscle has reduced in your dogs legs and spine have shrunken (muscle atrophy) due to the lack of use. They may ask you to walk around and observe the gait, but, to investigate it further; they will normally suggest further tests such as x-rays. These help to locate the arthritis and could even identify further underlying causes.

The surgeon may often take a small fluid sample from inside the joints to rule out any medical conditions associated with arthritis – like joint infection as an example, but the key test is the X-rays.

If your dog is elderly and you suspect your dog already has arthritis, your first option is to speak to your vet veterinarian who will rule out other health problems that commonly affect older dogs and although there is no cure for ageing there are effective treatments for arthritis and many of the health problems of older dogs suffer from.

Your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory therapy for a few weeks or months, with long-term drug therapy proving very useful to relieve the pain. The most common of these painkillers used are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

There are three main families of drugs used to treat canine arthritis.

The first is nutraceuticals (primarily glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate). These are basically building blocks for the cartilage. By adding these to the dogs food, it can enable the cartilage to repair, which then allows relief from arthritis.

The second is pentosan polysulphate, hyaluronic acid, and polysulphated glycosaminoglycans, which are designed to reduce the cartilage degeneration, as well as help to repair joints and reduce painful inflammation.

The third set is anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are ideal for managing inflammation associated with arthritis. These drugs can be very effective but as with most drugs, there can be side effects if used over a long term, saying that, NSAIDs do have an excellent track record for safety. In the short term, these drugs are often the first choice, but using them for medium or longer term may prove detrimental to the dog so alternatives must be sought. There are new drugs coming into the market all the time and this is why its very important to see the veterinarian on a regular basis. This way they can develop a successful management plan and review the current medication.

These drugs are all very effective in lessening the pain of arthritis, and both the vets and drug manufacturers will say that talk of the side effects and negative effects on your dogs stomach and intestines are rare, if not exaggerated, however, this is of little comfort when its your dog that has to go through the added pain.

The use of any drug is a give and take between the risk and benefits – the use of NSAIDs are no exception. To only way to avoid the risk of these awful  side effects is to use what veterinaries refer to as alternative therapy or otherwise referred to as the natural way.

  1. For pre and post-surgery dogs, having a booster style lifting aid will assist your dog hugely. This will not only help them to walk further as you assist by taking some of the weight off the joints but you’ll also find that walking further will also create a happier and more mobile dog – be sure to protect your own joints! I would say to try using a towel, but this simply does not work! www.quincysdogs.com offer a variety of products specifically designed for arthritis in dogs which range from speciality harnesses to lifting straps. These are designed specifically to the dog and to help prevent injuries to the owners.
  2. You may also find that having a softer bed or a raised canvas bed will benefit the dog immensely as this way they can find a comfortable position to have a restful sleep.
  3. Reducing the weight of the dog will certainly help. This may involve a change in dog food brands, increase exercise or a combination. However, increased exercise means more impact which means more pain for the dog – unless you consider swimming. No dog is too old to swim.
  4. Swimming with the use of a dog life jacket is the best form of exercise. Not only is it weightless and will muscles at a faster rate with no impact on the bones, it’s a great aerobic workout and the heart gets a great cardiovascular workout. The use of a dog life jacket is of paramount importance here. The reason is; without a jacket the primary muscles being worked in the spine and core (stomach). This is because they first have to stay afloat. The secondary becomes the front legs, chest, shoulders, hips and back legs. Once you put on a life jacket, the primary reverses to front legs, chest, shoulders, hips and back legs and the secondary becomes the spine and core. This allows the dog to swim for longer and in turn this allows for quick muscle growth.
  5. Fish Oil Supplements have been known for their overall health benefits in addition to improving joint function and it’s a very cost effective way, something you should definitely consider in addition to a healthy diet.
  6. Most dogs love a good scratch and belly rubs. Done by someone certified, a massage can achieve some amazing results – almost the same as a chiropractic or acupuncture treatment.
  7. Low level laser therapy is where light at specific frequencies are absorbed by the cells. The aim is to relieve the pain, and improve the motion within the joints. Its has very similar benefits to acupuncture.

The above is a start. Unfortunately, treating arthritis will mean on-going costs. No treatment is guaranteed to work as nothing same works on one dog and then another. Having a walking aid is a must as this will assist both you and your dog.  As to the other treatments, this should start with a trial. With swimming, we found that there were massive improvements (muscle growth, better breathing, reduced limping and in most cases – no limping at all) showing within a period of 5 weeks of 2 two swims a week.

It’s hard seeing your dog getting older and watching them being in pain – but don’t despair, there are many ways you can help. Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas.

This article was written by Quincysdogs. The founder has been involved in canine hydrotherapy for 14 years when writing this article and over the 14 years has treated some 4000 dogs plus, a vast amount being rescue dogs.

Quincysdogs is not a veterinary organisation and is unable to provide general or case specific veterinary advice.  If you have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this article then please contact a local veterinary practice for further information.

Treating arthritis in dogs

Posted by vikram on December 14, 2015  /   Posted in Blog

There are various reasons for arthritis, but the main reason is simply that the joints have worn over the years.

As your dog grows older, one of the most common health problems is arthritis – so be prepared. You will often hear veterinarians refer to this as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

There are various reasons for arthritis, but the main reason is simply that the joints have worn over the years.

When the dog is young, your dogs body repairs itself however as they age this process gets slower and much tougher. Several things happen, the ligaments that hold the legs together begin to stretch, meaning the joints become looser. This in turn slowly eats away at the surface of the joint which causes the joints to become inflamed. The body then tries to compensate and new bone starts developing in the wrong places causing the dog to be in pain. As the dog gets older, it’s a vicious circle and you start seeing the limping much more often. This is what arthritis is.

This process leads to the dog walking less, which in turn causes muscle wastage. Muscle is even more important now to hold everything in place.
There are other reasons for arthritis, ranging from being born with misaligned bones or maybe even a car incident.

You vet will be able to guide more towards what can be done, however, the reason for this article is to talk about how Quincys range of harnesses can assist.

Both the Spero and the GenX harnesses have handles to the front and the back. These handles allow to support your dog when on walks and by doing so take some of the weight off the joints. This in turn allows the dog to walk further, and retain or even rebuild muscle with not so much impact on the joints.

The Spero harness was always designed for the once a day ‘longer’ walks, however we do recommend that it is removed after the walk. It’s an amazing harness and the idea behind it is so simple, however, it is completed to put on and adjust perfectly the first time. Plus, the dog doesn’t always take to it the first time. Over a few walks the dog will slowly get used to it as will you.

On the other hand, the GenX harness is designed for your everyday use. Being breathable, the Genx harness can be left on all day and the handles have all been reinforced for regular lifting. The harness is extremely easy to put on or take off, with all the belt straps containing padding allowing for weight distribution and taking into account the pressure points.

Spinal injury in dogs

Posted by vikram on June 02, 2015  /   Posted in Blog

Animals suspected with a spinal injury should be immobilised to prevent further injury.

A spinal injury in your dog can be traumatic and scary for most owners. Quite often, it may occur due to a collision with a car, a fall from a height, or a sudden impact into a door. They may even have cause another injury elsewhere. Continue reading “Spinal injury in dogs” »

Cruciate ligament injury in dogs

Posted by vikram on January 30, 2015  /   Posted in Blog

In a dog, the cruciate ligament is a fundamental part of a dogs knee and as a dog owner, the likelihood is that your dog will be affected from this injury one day.

Whilst its not life threating, if not treated, your dog will start losing muscles and be in pain.

If you see your dog exhibit signs of pain or lameness, it is best to have your vet examine your dog as soon as possible and your vet will prescribe the best course of action.

Continue reading “Cruciate ligament injury in dogs” »

Dangerous Dogs Act UK

Posted by vikram on May 15, 2014  /   Posted in Blog

On 13th March 2014 a new amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 came into force.

Under this new amendment, as a dog owner, you could receive up to a two year sentence if convicted with the maximum now being 14 years if a person dies and 5 years if a person is injured.

The amended version of the Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect both in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. It must be noted that this law now applies to all breeds no matter the type. Be it a Yorkshire Terrier, toy poodle or a Pit bull.

Continue reading “Dangerous Dogs Act UK” »

Arthritis in Dogs

Posted by vikram on March 20, 2014  /   Posted in Blog

Arthritis can occur anywhere in your dog; the neck, spine, or their legs.

This is the most common ailment as your dog gets older. You may only think that hes slowing down because of your dogs age, but look more closely… look for how they get up, or lay down, hesitation or stiffness. Are they worse when it cold?

All of these may point towards arthritis setting in.

Continue reading “Arthritis in Dogs” »

Spinal cord injury in dogs

Posted by vikram on March 18, 2014  /   Posted in Blog

Degenerative myelopathy, is basically a condition that attacks the nerves in the spine.

For humans, our capacity to move around all depends on various aspects ranging but all connected, from the spine, muscles, nerves and most importantly our brain. The same applies for your dog. If your dog suffers a trauma to any of these areas, it may cause them weakness or a lack of coordination.

A dogs spine is made up of 24 bones called the vertebrae. Detached by small buffers are the intervertebral discs. Damage to this through stress can cause vulnerability to the nerves. This then could cause the neural pathway to not function properly.

Continue reading “Spinal cord injury in dogs” »

My dog has arthritis – How can I help?

Posted by vikram on February 07, 2014  /   Posted in Blog

Arthritis in humans and dogs alike is one of the oldest heart-breaking conditions in the world.

Unlike other conditions, it does not discriminate on age, sex, nor breed and can strike your dog at any time.

It really doesn’t matter if you feed your dog the best dog food, or give them all their vaccinations and walk them every day, rain or shine. Once you start seeing changes in their activity, limping and possibly even suspect an injury, in reality this could be arthritis.

We have our own answers as to the most effective treatment and will come to that shortly, but in the meantime the standard answers on how to treat your dog is listed below:
Continue reading “My dog has arthritis – How can I help?” »

The ‘GenX’ No-Pull Dog Harnesses

Posted by vikram on December 18, 2013  /   Posted in Blog

WHY the ‘GenX’ dog harness is one of the best designs ever made.

Our ‘GenX’ dog harness helps to combat the pulling instinct unlike most other harnesses which actually encourage pulling.

This may be your first ever dog, you may be a seasoned dog owner, or  you may even be a dog trainer and know nearly everything there is to know about dogs but if I asked you:

What is better when walking a dog, a harness or a collar and lead

What is the best dog harness

and why. – what would say?

Continue reading “The ‘GenX’ No-Pull Dog Harnesses” »

Disabled Dog

Posted by vikram on December 11, 2013  /   Posted in Blog

Not everyone can deal with a handicapped dog, but the rewards are wonderful.

It’s often the case that when a dog is disabled or handicapped, people will consider putting their dog to sleep. Animals have feelings, thoughts, can make decisions and they hurt when you poke them with a pin just as we do.

You wouldn’t consider putting down a human child or grandmother just because they had a disability or was old, so why is it so easy to contemplate putting your dog to sleep?

Continue reading “Disabled Dog” »

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