How to Manage Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis is a common condition that affects many dogs and causes pain, discomfort and stiffness. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the condition and ensure your dog’s quality of life is not diminished by arthritis.

Preventing Arthritis in Your Pet

Early detection is the key to minimizing the damage of arthritis and its impact on your dog’s health and wellbeing. Watch for any signs of joint pain, restricted mobility or unusual behavior, and partner with your veterinarian on a plan to prevent it from progressing.

Diet and Weight Management

Providing a balanced, high-quality diet that has the right balance of protein and carbohydrate can be helpful in preventing and controlling inflammation and reducing the risk of arthritis. Also, working with your veterinarian to develop a routine that promotes good nutrition and gentle exercise can help reduce pressure on your dog’s joints.

Supplements and Medications

For severe cases of arthritis, your veterinarian may recommend Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs arthritis in dogs (NSAIDs) which can be extremely effective in reducing the inflammation that leads to pain. However, it is important to note that these drugs have side effects that are often unpleasant and require monitoring. These include diarrhea, vomiting, melena (dark, tarry stool), lethargy and lack of appetite.

If NSAIDs are used, your vet will need to monitor for adverse reactions in your pet’s liver and kidney system. Your vet may recommend stopping NSAIDs for your dog after they have had any of these issues.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinarian will need to examine your dog to identify the specific areas affected by arthritis and determine if they are contributing to the pain and stiffness. He or she will be looking at your pet’s gait, listening to their body language and performing a physical examination of the affected joints.

In addition, your veterinarian will perform X-rays to confirm or rule out arthritis as the cause of the pain or decreased mobility. X-rays can also show other conditions that may be contributing to your dog’s symptoms, such as an infection.

The X-rays will show the degree of damage that has occurred and if there is enough space in the joint to allow for new bone growth. In some cases, your veterinarian will also do a joint tap to check for fluid buildup within the joint.

If your pet has a predisposing condition or inherited disease that is causing the arthritis, your vet will need to treat that issue as well. This can involve surgery, medication or dietary changes.

Prevention is the best way to stop arthritis in its tracks, and your veterinarian will have lots of useful information about modifying your pet’s care and lifestyle to prevent arthritis from occurring in the first place. A healthy, balanced diet that has the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids in it will reduce inflammation and keep your dog’s joints in good shape.

Your vet can also provide you with a list of supplements that are helpful for arthritis and give advice on how to incorporate them into your pet’s daily regimen. These supplements can include glucosamine and chondroitin, which support joint health and rebuild cartilage.