Arthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints and is very common in dogs. It normally affects leg joints and hips, causing loss in normal mobility and underlying pain for the dog. There are a range of treatments to manage arthritis which aim to delay its progression and keep dogs comfortable. The best arthritis treatment for dogs is prevention – providing your dog with a healthy diet and regular movement. Arthritis in dogs (more specifically osteoarthritis) may be an underlying condition and can often go unnoticed. Early detection is important in order to minimize your dog’s discomfort and prevent further progression of the condition.
What are the Signs of Arthritis in Dogs?
Dogs don’t normally complain, so it helps to be aware of arthritis tell-tale signs which you may think are caused by other problems. Laziness, reluctance to walk or play, stiff movement in the mornings and falling behind on walks are probably signs of arthritis. Typical “old age” symptoms are an indicator, depending on the dog’s age and it’s health. If you have an older dog, it will naturally slow down and arthritis may be a contributing factor. However chronological age does not necessarily mean your dog will suffer from arthritis. If you are unsure, consult your vet who can advise on the best management and treatment.
Contributing Factors to Arthritis.
Some dog breeds are more susceptible to arthritis than others. Arthritis can be exacerbated in overweight dogs and high activity levels which place more pressure on joints. A retired overweight cattle dog is more likely to suffer from arthritis than a idle suburban Pug. It’s important to consider your dog’s breed and it’s natural capabilities. Bulldogs don’t have the physiology for a regular morning run, and certain breeds simply don’t have the skeletal structure to support excessive activity which increases arthritis risk factors. Arthritis can also result from prior injuries.
Breeding as well as genetics can predispose a dog to arthritis through developmental disorders, so it’s important to consider this when choosing a dog to suit your home and lifestyle.
Prevention is the Best Cure.
Diet and exercise are the two most important factors (haven’t we heard this before?). A diet rich in omegas 3 and 6 is essential for healthy joints. Most quality prepared dog foods will contain a source of essential fatty acids (EFA’s), but it pays to make sure. Most veterinarians believe the best ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is somewhere between 5:1 and 10:1. Supplementing dry dog food with hemp seed oil which is rich in EFA’s helps to support joint function and overall health.
Daily moderate exercise is really important for a dog’s health and wellbeing – and for yours as well. Regular movement develops joint strength and resilience to arthritis and good muscle condition will support the dog’s skeletal structure. Over-exerting your dog after long periods of inactivity is definitely not ideal. Unfortunately we may think it’s great – your dog loves a blast in the park after a lazy week at home. Any outing with your dog is great but all things considered, little and often is best.
Once you’re aware that your dog has symptoms of arthritis, managing their diet and lifestyle become important to minimize their discomfort. Arthritis can’t be cured but proper treatment at early stages can help with a rich and rewarding life for your dog.
Here are the most important steps to help improve your dog’s well-being with arthritis:
- Manage your dog’s weight with a good diet, avoid obesity,
- Supplement the diet with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as termeric or hemp oil,
- Give your dog moderate low-impact exercise daily,
- Avoid jumping, strenuous activities or climbing steps,
- Provide a dry, warm and comfortable bed,
- Rug up your dog on cold days, especially for skinny short-haired dogs.
Natural Arthritis Relief
There are a number anti-inflammatory prescription drugs available from your veterinarian such as Galliprant, Carprofen, and Meloxicam. Ongoing treatment can be costly and may come with undesirable side-effects impacting the dog’s basic health.
Natural anti-inflammatories like hemp oil, turmeric and rose hip included in a dog’s diet daily helps with prevention and treatment of arthritis. The effects can be outstanding and ongoing, without adversely affecting the dog’s behavior. When trying natural alternatives, stick to the recommended daily dosage for a set period – say two weeks – and carefully observe the effects, then stop the treatment to see if the symptoms return. Dog’s may react quite quickly, showing changes sometimes within two days. Stopping the treatment and observing will confirm your dog’s diagnosis. You may be surprised to find other beneficial health effects.
Diet and well-being are closely linked. Humans can vary their diet routinely, but could you say the same for your pooch? Probably not. A good, balanced, nutritious diet is crucial for arthritis prevention and treatment in dogs, and for their overall health.