Unfortunately, your dog can’t stay a puppy forever. While your dog will hopefully live a long and happy life, there are some problems that become more common as your pet ages. One of the most common of these problems is arthritis.
Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints. Arthritis in dogs is often the result of a hereditary condition or joint injury. While arthritis in dogs becomes more common as animals age, in can also occur in younger pets. Large breeds are more likely to suffer arthritis than smaller breeds. For example, German Shepherds offer suffer from hip dysplasia, which can eventually lead to arthritis. However, certain types of arthritis are common in small breeds. Rheumatoid arthritis generally affects smaller dogs and often appears as early as four years of age.
Some signs of arthritis in dogs are increases in weight and sleep, decreases in activity and alertness, favoring certain legs, difficulty sitting down or standing up, or hesitancy to run or jump. If your animal exhibits any of the symptoms of arthritis in dogs for more than two weeks, take him or her to the vet.
Unfortunately, arthritis in dogs cannot be completely cured. However, treatment can limit its effects and make life more comfortable for your pet. Weight control and moderate exercise are necessary to help control arthritis in dogs. Your veterinarian may provide medications and other treatments, such as corticosteroids, that reduce inflammation in the joints. Some veterinarians will even prescribe acupuncture, which some experts claim has shown very positive results.
Most veterinarians will proscribe physical therapy to treat arthritis in dogs. Your vet will help you design a program specific to your dog. Exercise is necessary, but it must also be limited. For many sufferers of arthritis in dogs, swimming offers a means of exercise that is easier on the joints.
Some people claim that over the counter supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega 3 fatty acids can improve arthritis in dogs. Some studies have shown a potential positive effect of these supplements. However, not enough studies have been done to determine how effective they really are. Discuss these supplements with your vet first. Also, never give your animal human medication. These medications may contain ingredients that are harmful to your pet. Never give your animal any medication that hasn’t first been approved by your veterinarian.
Several furniture additions can also improve the quality of life for sufferers of arthritis in dogs. Make sure your animal has a comfortable bed that supports his or her joints fully while lying down. If your dog has trouble reaching places where he or she is allowed to go, consider getting a ramp or stairs. These can make it easier for your animal to get into your bed (if they’re allowed there) or the car. Hardwood or tiled floors can be slippery and hard on your animal’s joints; rugs can make movement around the house more comfortable for your pet.
Even though there is no cure for arthritis in dogs, hopefully your pet still has a long life ahead. Following these previous tips can help make that life as comfortable and happy as possible.