by Audrey Harvey, DVM
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition of joints that is common in elderly dogs, and those that are overweight.
How to Diagnose Osteoarthritis
The main symptom of osteoarthritis in your dog is lameness. It may be worse in the morning, and after exercise. It may only affect one leg, or your dog may hurt in two or more of his limbs. You may also see behavioral changes; he may be crankier than usual, and he may struggle to jump into the car when you are going on a trip.
Your vet will be very suspicious that your dog has osteoarthritis based on the information you give him, and a thorough clinical examination. They will bend and flex each joint, and look for signs of pain and reduced movement. They may also suggest x-rays to get a more accurate idea of how severe your dog’s arthritis is.
Treating Osteoarthritis in Dogs
It makes sense that preventing dogs from becoming obese in the first place can reduce the occurrence of osteoarthritis. This means that you need to watch your dog’s waistline closely as he grows up, and keep him trim.
If your dog is already stiff and sore, it’s not too late to help him to feel better.
1. Put him on a diet. Other studies have proven that weight loss in dogs that have already developed osteoarthritis can be very beneficial.
2. Find a canine physical therapist. One program studied the effect of combining physical therapy with a calorie-controlled diet in dogs that were overweight and who also had osteoarthritis. The results were positive in both the amount of weight the dogs lost and their mobility. A key finding from this particular study was that the physical therapy appeared to result in better outcomes than just restricting the dogs’ diet.
3. Keep up your dog’s exercise. How much exercise he can do will depend on his level of pain and how easily he can move around. Take your dog on a gentle walk each day if possible and gradually build up to longer walks over time if he shows he can cope with it. An alternative for dogs that are very lame would be to take them swimming. With the lack of weight bearing down on their joints they could enjoy this form of exercise and be burning up those extra calories at the same time.
4. Always have a bottle of Joint Resolution handy, and give your dog a few drops every day. This all-natural treatment contains anti-inflammatory herbs to ease his pain and increase joint mobility. BioCell Collagen II will restore damaged cartilage and improve the consistency of the joint fluid. The result is that your dog will be more comfortable.
There’s no need for your dog to suffer from osteoarthritis. Weight management, physical therapy, gentle exercise and Joint Resolution will allow him to enjoy life to the fullest.