If your dog is sluggish, it may have joint problems. Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. Imagine a machine with well-lubricated and flawlessly working parts. For some reason, one-part bends and the lubricant dries up. Over time, machine parts wear out or wear out until a malfunction occurs. This is exactly what happens with arthritis of the joints in a dog.
Arthritis is a disease of the joints of an inflammatory nature, characterized by redness, increased local temperature, pain at the site of the lesion. The pet develops the so-called “tense gait”, protects the affected joint. The diagnosis of arthritis, due to the non-specificity of symptoms, is somewhat difficult.
Arthritis is most common in dogs. Among dogs, large and giant dog breeds are most susceptible to arthroid lesions. This is due to the greater body weight of the animal, and hence the greater load on the ligamentous apparatus.
Also, at risk are elderly animals, in which natural age-related degenerative changes in the articular apparatus occur.
Causes of arthritis in dogs
At the site of the “connection” of the bones with each other is the articular capsule, and the “layer” between them is cartilage. This is a kind of cushion that prevents the articular surfaces of the bones from rubbing off during movement, deforming and collapsing. Inside the capsule, there is a liquid that allows the joint to perform its function without hindrance, without pain. But why can an inflammatory process develop in the joint?
Weakened immunity. Any infection that has entered the animal’s body provokes the development of the inflammatory process.
Injuries: sprains, bruises, sprains and ruptures of ligaments, fractures. The dog can stumble, twist its paw while running or jumping (babies, old people and overweight dogs are especially prone to such falls).
Relax on a hard and cold floor. If the dog lies on a hard surface for a long time, the joints often swell and harden, arthritis and arthrosis may develop.
Malnutrition. This is not the main reason, but rather contributing.
Traumatic. This type of joint inflammation occurs due to trauma received by the animal (sprain or rupture of ligaments, dislocation, contusion, fracture or other violation of intra-articular cartilage and bone).
Genetic. It is recorded in those breeds that were bred artificially. Such animals have a tendency to damage the cartilage tissue.
Rheumatoid arthritis in dogs is most commonly reported in miniature breeds. A kind of autoimmune disease, when the pet’s immune system tries to destroy its own cartilage and bone cells, destroying them.
Metabolic. Inflammation develops due to metabolic disorders. Cartilage tissue is not renewed properly, it becomes thinner. Especially often such inflammation is recorded in large breeds with excess body weight (cartilage is erased).
Purulent. Pus accumulates in the joint capsule. Most often, it begins to form there due to a deep penetrating wound (a pyogenic infection gets, for example, cocci).
Drug. It arises as a reaction to the injected veterinary drug (vaccines, medicines). A kind of allergic reaction to medications.
Osteoarthritis. It develops due to dislocation or other joint disease, hip dysplasia. The most common type of inflammation of the musculoskeletal system in dogs.
Risk factors and diagnosis
Larger animals are more prone to arthritis. However, any dog can potentially develop arthritis, depending on age, genetic factors, wear and tear on the joints. Obesity also increases the likelihood of developing the disease, as being overweight puts stress on your joints.
- Difficulty lifting;
- Difficulty walking;
- Swelling and warmth in the joints;
- Squealing, especially during exercise;
- Indecision or refusal to climb stairs;
- Depressed mood;
What to do?
Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help diagnose and treat arthritis before the disease gets too advanced. If you notice symptoms, see a specialist immediately for a comprehensive physical examination, x-ray, blood and synovial fluid tests to determine the cause and severity of arthritis.
The main rule is not to self-medicate. This is especially true for the administration of drugs that have significant side effects (for example, glucocorticoids).
The need for admission, dosage and frequency, as well as the degree of side effects, should be established by your attending veterinarian after a series of anamnestic and instrumental studies.
However, you can still provide all possible help to your pet.
It is a well-known fact that an overweight animal is susceptible to various diseases, including arthritis, to a much greater extent than a lean one. The degree of load on the joints increases significantly; also, animals with excess nutrition are more susceptible to diseases of impaired metabolism, which, as we remember, is also fraught with osteoarthritis.
If your pet is overweight, this is a reason to think about transferring it to a food with a low-fat content, as well as to come up with an effective way of “active rest” (long walks, games) for the animal.
And, of course, no table handouts even at lunchtime! Often it is this “unplanned feeding” that is the reason for the appearance of extra pounds in the animal.
The connection between movement and life is still relevant today. Walk with your pet, make the animal move. If walking for 20 minutes is too long for you, reduce the time, but make a route so that you can walk on uneven terrain, forcing the animal to go down and up.
But don’t overdo it! Remember that a sick animal needs a gentle walking regimen, otherwise, instead of a beneficial effect, the result will be completely different.
IMPORTANT! With chronic arthritis caused by age-related changes, you should reduce the duration of walks and the load during them!
Remember that the symptoms of pain in chronic recurrent arthritis with cooling of the body increase. Following a few simple rules will ease the pain of your patient.
Replace your pet’s litter with a thicker, warmer one. If the pet lives on the street, insulate its booth so as to exclude drafts and blowing.
Also, in the case of outdoor keeping in particularly cold, windy and humid weather, it is recommended to take the animal into the house.
Also, in chronic arthritis, the use of warming compresses on the affected joints is shown – this will increase blood circulation, promote metabolic processes, and dull painful sensations.
BUT! In case of acute, just arisen joint inflammation on the very first day, it is recommended to apply not heat, but cold as soon as possible, to reduce inflammatory edema! It is also recommended to apply heat to the affected joint the next day.
IMPORTANT! With purulent inflammation of the joint, heat is contraindicated, since it promotes the absorption of the products of purulent decomposition into the blood.
Arthritis joint pain is eased by a soothing massage. You should gently rub sore spots with small circular movements. Gradually expand the circles, moving away from the sore spot, and then come back. If after the massage the animal relaxed, then you acted correctly.
IMPORTANT! With purulent inflammation of the joint, massage is contraindicated for the same reason as the use of warming compresses.
On the stairs.
For an animal with arthritis, jumping up and down stairs is painful and difficult. If possible, make a ramp along the stairs. If necessary, just take your pet in your arms, or use the elevator.
Movement in the water strengthens the muscles without stressing the joints. Often a dog with arthritis tends to swim by itself. Any body of water is good for swimming, as long as there are no waves in it.
For very small dogs, it is enough to swim at home in a bathtub filled with cool water. Let your pet swim as much as he wants until he gets tired. Of course, if the dog is afraid of water, there is no need to coerce.
Also, it is important to exclude swimming in open waters in cold, windy and wet weather in order to avoid exacerbation of arthroid phenomena.
Don’t forget about vitamins!
Ascorbic acid and vitamin E have proven themselves well. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has an anti-inflammatory effect, vitamin E nourishes and protects cartilage tissue. Taking these drugs daily will help the suffering animal.
If it hurts …
If you see that the animal is in pain and suffering, then you should ease its suffering. You can give the dog an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent (analgin with diphenhydramine, spazgan, pentalgin M, rimadil, etc.)
Chondroprotectors are understood as biological products, mainly on an animal basis, which contain the structural elements of natural cartilage tissue and are used to renew and build intra-articular fluid and cartilage. The raw materials for this group are marine invertebrates and some salmon species. They affect intra-articular metabolism, stimulate the replacement of damaged areas of cartilage tissue.
Now there are many chondroprotective agents on the market that contain glucosaminoglycans: glucosamine and chondroitin.
Surgery, which is not as often used as other medical treatments for arthritis, may help some pets with severe arthritis. In veterinary medicine, surgery is performed to relieve pain, improve movement, and correct deformity or instability of the joints. Surgery such as arthrodesis relieves pain and helps restore limb function. Joint replacement and ligament restoration are also performed.