Canine arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects a wide variety of breeds and affects 20% of dogs in their lifetime. The root cause of arthritis is simply age. Lubricated layers of tissue prevent joints from rubbing against one another. This tissue must be constantly replenished and replaced. However, with age it begins to break down and cannot be replenished as quickly.
Dogs with degenerative arthritis many different kinds of pain, stiffness, and joint immobility. These often appear more readily noticeable immediately after the dog has woken up. Additionally afflicted dogs often show signs of behavior changes and bad tempers associated with the pain they are experiencing. Cold and moist environments can aggravate the symptoms in dogs suffering from arthritis.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for canine arthritis. However, by managing the dog’s lifestyle, the symptoms can be ameliorated, progress can be slowed, and the quality of the dog’s life can be generally improved. The first and most important is its diet. Any extra weight on a dog is going to create added pressure on its joints and should be avoided as much as possible. There are many dog foods marketed towards senior dogs, and they should carry fewer calories and higher fiber. Also check to see if the foods contain glucosamine or Omega-3 fatty acids, as these have sometimes been shown to have good effects for dogs suffering from canine arthritis. Mixing in some vegetables such as cabbage, peas, and carrots with your dog’s food can also be very effective in achieving this.
Moderate exercise has been shown to be beneficial as it maintains muscle mass and assists in joint flexibility. Too much exercise, however, should be avoided as it can hasten the degeneration of connective tissue. Arthritic dogs should definitely be trained to avoid jumping repeatedly or to do any sort of activity that involves standing on their hind legs (like begging) as these activities create extra stress on the joints. Dogs with pain and lameness should be exercised on a leash or a harness. The purpose of the harness is to prevent aggressive movements and to make sure that the pressure from the leash is more evenly distributed. Another extremely advisable plan of action is to make sure that an overweight or obese dog loses weight. The additional weight causes undue stress on the joints which can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.
Other steps can be taken to protect your dog from further deterioration of its joints. Making sure that its stride is normal can be one of these. Make sure that its nails are clipped to their proper length to ensure that they stride normally. Also padded carpets in the house can greatly decrease the impact felt by the dog’s joints around the house. Additionally, a comfortable and warm bed for the dog can go a long way in making sure that its joints are well protected as it rests (which older dogs must do more and more as they age). Given the proper conditions, a dog with canine arthritis can live many happy and comfortable years.