How to Prevent Arthritis In Dogs

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    What is Arthritis in Dogs?

    Arthritis (also known as Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease) is a common condition for aging dogs but also not unheard of for younger dogs. At any given moment, it affects about a quarter of a million canines globally. It is a progressive, chronic joint disorder characterized by joint cartilage deterioration, joint capsule thickness, and the formation of the new bone surrounding the joint (osteophytosis), all of which contribute to pain and limb impairment. 

    What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

    senior dog with arthritis laying in the grass

    To better prevent arthritis in dogs, it’s important to understand what actually causes it and to start there. Arthritis in dogs is caused mostly by developing orthopedic illnesses such as cranial cruciate ligament disease, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, OCD, and patella (knee cap) dislocation. Arthritis occurs in a tiny percentage of dogs for no obvious cause and is connected to heredity and age. Arthritis  can also be caused by a variety of factors, including:

    • Breeds that are large or giant
    • Genetics
    • Age
    • Athletic activities that cause repetitive stress
    • Prior hip or elbow dysplasia diagnosis
    • Infections that cause joint pain, such as Lyme Disease
    • Inadequate nutrition
    • Fractures and ligament rips are examples of injuries

     

    Why is Early Awareness of Arthritis Important?

    Arthritis is difficult to identify in its early stages, despite the fact that it is common and painful. Treatment options often focus on relieving pain and delaying the disease’s progression. The first and most crucial step to prevent arthritis in dogs is just being aware of its prevalence and keeping joint health and prospective joint issues at the forefront of one’s thoughts. 

    How Can You Prevent Arthritis in Dogs?

    Early intervention for your dog’s joints, muscles, and hips is recommended. Early management may assist to decrease the progression of degenerative arthritis. In the first half of your dog’s life, make sure he gets the necessary nutrition and gets enough of activity, which will keep his body healthy and help him maintain a healthy weight. Keep reading to learn more about the ways to try and prevent arthritis in your dog:

    Weight Management 

    Obesity is one of the top ways that causes arthritis in dogs and keeping dogs a healthy weight throughout their life can delay or halt the progression of arthritis. Dogs who are already prone to arthritis such as their breed, size or other genetic defects would greatly benefit from being kept at a healthy weight. If you’re not sure what size your dog is supposed to be, you can check the AKC breed size chart (remember: not all dogs of the same breed are the same, their weight can still vary). If you are worried that your dog is overweight, you can put them on a diet dog food and exercise regimen which your veterinarian can help regulate.

    overweight dog with arthritis

    Supplements

    Dogs don’t need to be showing joint pain or problems to be put on joint supplements. If you’re not sure what kind of supplement would be helpful, here’s a bit of information on the most common types of supplements for dogs to help with joint pain and arthritis:

    Glucosamine

    The most frequent sort of supplement for joint issues in dogs is glucosamine. It is a naturally occurring substance in both human and animal bodies, however the supplement aids in cartilage health maintenance. It alleviates pain and stiffness in arthritic joints by lowering inflammation, preventing cartilage loss, and enhancing cartilage regeneration.

    Chondroitin

    Chondroitin, which is frequently combined with glucosamine, increases water retention and suppleness in cartilage. It can be taken on its own, with the same dose as glucosamine.

    Green Lipped Mussel

    Green Lipped Mussel (GLM) is a supplement derived from a New Zealand mussel. There isn’t much information about GLM, although it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory and joint-protective qualities.

    Hyaluronic Acid

    Hyaluronic Acid is a kind of sugar. It is a key component of synovial fluid, which serves to maintain joint viscosity, lubrication, and stress absorption in joints.

    Vitamins C and E

    Antioxidant vitamins C and E help dogs move about more readily by destroying free radicals.

    Acetylated Glucosamine

    Acetylated glucosamine can help with joint structure and function.

    Manganese

    Manganese is an essential nutrient because it is involved in a variety of chemical processes in the body, including bone formation. Manganese is required in joints to preserve bone, cartilage, and collagen. Manganese is a component of cartilage that is required for chondrocyte survival.

    The Correct Exercise

    Make sure your dog is active and receives lots of exercise to help prevent arthritis in dogs. Too much exercise can also be just as dangerous as it can expose them to overexertion damage. It is critical not to over-exercise your dog or expose them to overexertion damage. “Leaping” activities that involve dogs lepaing into the air like throwing frisbees up high for dogs to jump up and catch can create uneven weight loads and distribution on their joints. Examples of exercise that don’t put strain on the joints include water-based exercises like swimming and hydrotherapy. Nonetheless, appropriate activity and exercise promotes a healthy weight and good muscular growth to support joints. Both a healthy weight and muscle mass in your dog help to prevent joint degradation, which can lead to arthritis. Make certain that your dog does not strain his joints or injure himself when exercising.

    Have Regular Vet Visits

    Dogs who are more likely to develop arthritis should have their joints checked regularly by your primary care veterinarian. You can ask your vet to x-ray your dog at around 2 years old to see if there any indications of arthritis developing. Request x-rays of your dog’s spine, hips, and stifles whenever your pet is sedated for a treatment later in life, such as a dental cleaning, so you can keep track of their improvement.

    The goal of getting the hips x-rayed at two years is to see if hip dysplasia has developed. In general, if a dog is above the age of two and has not been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, they are unlikely to develop it. However, hip dysplasia can develop later in life as a result of hereditary causes, severe injury, a lack of muscular strength, or overloading the joint with too much weight. Keeping track of your dog’s baseline using x-rays allows you to watch their progress and make any necessary changes to supplements, nutrition, or other factors to aid your dog.

     

    Overall, prevention is a key factor in helping your dog with arthritis. Many dogs are predisposed but preventative measures can help slow the progression or even halt it. If you are concerned that your dog may have arthritis, please visit your primary care veterinarian or find an orthopedic veterinary specialist near you.

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