Arthritis is a degenerative disease which affects the joints on various parts of the body, including the shoulder, knee, elbow and hip. Its symptoms include inflammation of joints to a point where it is painful and/or difficult for your pet to move excessively or enthusiastically. This can lead to other health issues such as muscle loss, weight gain and more.
Although arthritis can affect all dogs, it is most prevalent among older animals, animals who have suffered a past injury to their joints, and highly active animals. If your dog suddenly stops jumping around or going up and down flights of stairs, or displays stiffness or limping with certain movements, you should consider taking them to a vet to get it checked out. Early diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference with arthritis, as with all health issues.
As a degenerative disease, the changes brought about by the onset of arthritis are largely irreversible. This does not mean that you should give up, for there are many things you can do to ease your dog’s discomfort, and to manage the rate at which the disease progresses. Some of these include:
- medication which contains anti-inflammatory and pain relieving ingredients
- managing your dog’s physical activity, including amount and strenuousness of exercise, and specific actions such as stairs and jumping
- keeping your pet warm and comfortable especially in winter
- ensuring your dog is not overweight, which has exercise and feeding implications
Prevention is not always possible, but if your dog belongs to a breed known to be prone to arthritis and/or joint problems, you should take extra care and be extra vigilant. Avoiding overfeeding is an important step to try early on, so as to delay or reduce the chances of arthritis being an issue for your canine friend.