ARTHRITIS IN DOGS

Just as in humans, arthritis is a condition that can cause dogs pain, swelling and stiffness in their joints.

There are several potential causes; sometimes arthritis may result from an old injury or the joint may simply become damaged through wear and tear due to old age.

In fact, many older dogs suffer from arthritis and vets consider all dogs over the age of seven to be at risk of developing arthritis.

In dogs, the most commonly affected joints are the knees, elbows, hips and backbone.

DIAGNOSIS

Although arthritis is usually associated with pain and stiffness in the joints, it can be very difficult to see this in your dog. It is often only after the pain has been relieved, and your dog has renewed mobility, that you may come to realise just how stiff they had become.

If you have noticed any of the changes below in your dog, you should consult your vet or vet nurse for advice.

Difficulty in jumping
Limping or stiffness
Reluctance to play
Change in grooming habits
Change in temperament
(e.g. withdrawn, more anxious or less tolerant)
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1.
Have you noticed a reduction in your dog’s mobility?
  • Difficulty jumping into the car/chair or climbing stairs
  • Limping or stiffness
  • Difficulty in getting up
2.
Have you noticed a reduction in your dog’s activity?
  • Reluctance to walk or play
  • Sleeping/resting more, especially in one place
  • Lethargy
3.
Have you noticed changes in grooming habits?
  • Unusual licking sometimes leading to bald areas
  • Chewing at joints
4.
Have there been any changes in your dog’s temperament?
  • Less tolerant towards children and/or other dogs
  • Reduced interaction with you/family
  • Increased anxiety/clinginess
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HOW TO HELP

The medical care of arthritis in dogs has advanced rapidly in recent years. With a little action on your part, there is every reason to expect that your dog can be comfortable for the rest of their life.

Your vet has prescribed Metacam to treat your dog’s arthritis. Metacam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is a type of painkiller and anti-inflammatory for dogs. NSAIDs are very effective at reducing the pain and stiffness that your dog may suffer from, and are likely to greatly improve their quality of life. It is important to use pain relief that is prescribed by your vet. This is because painkillers that are commonly used in humans, such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen are not all safe for dogs to take.

Keep them at a healthy weight

  • As your pet can’t control what they eat and drink themselves, make sure you keep them at a healthy weight to avoid extra strain on their joints.
  • If they have stiff or painful joints, they may not be able to lose weight through exercise, so less food is usually necessary.
  • Your vet can help you plan a weight reduction programme, if this is required.

Provide regular, gentle exercise

  • Regular, gentle exercise prevents your dog’s joints from stiffening up so they can remain active.
  • Avoid very energetic exercise such as excessive running or lots of climbing or jumping.
  • Your vet can help you create an exercise schedule that’s appropriate for your dog.

Keep them comfortable

  • Ensure your dog has a soft, warm bed to rest on.
  • Let them use ramps instead of stairs where possible.
  • Consider raising their feeding bowl to reduce the need for them to bend down.
  • Thoroughly dry them after bathing or swimming.

Consider alternative therapies

  • Hydrotherapy (which involves your dog swimming in a purpose-built pool) helps to build muscle mass to better support joints. Swimming is low impact and so tends to be more comfortable for dogs with stiff joints.
  • Other therapies, such as acupuncture, could be considered.
  • Your vet will be able to discuss which therapies will be most appropriate for your pet and where you will be able to find them locally.

Consider joint support supplements

Your vet may suggest that you give your dog a joint health supplement, such as Seraquin. This is a nutritional supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin and curcumin; all of which help support the normal function of your dog’s joints.

For more information on Seraquin, please visit the Seraquin website.

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