Arthritis is a very common condition in humans and dogs alike. It typically affects dogs in their senior years, and certain breeds are also more susceptible than others. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between the bones to break down quicker and the rubbing of the bones causes inflammation and pain. Any of the joints in the body can be affected by arthritis, but is it most commonly found in the shoulders, elbows, knees or hips.

A dog in a red colour is looking out over a grassy field with the sun in the background

Causes of Arthritis

Aside from old age, there are a range of factors that can cause osteoarthritis to develop in your dog:

  • Overweight dogs have extra strain on their joints which increases their risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • As mentioned, certain breeds are more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis. Larger breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are more prone to developing osteoarthritis.
  • Genetics also plays a part in whether or not a dog will develop osteoarthritis.
  • If a dog sustains an injury, they can also be more prone to developing arthritis in the affected joint/s. This includes repetitive stress injuries that are common in dogs that participate in athletic activities such as flyball, dock diving or agility courses, or injuries such as fractures or ligament tears.
  • Dogs that have joint deformities such as hip, knee or elbow dysplasia are also more prone to developing osteoarthritis.

A brown, black and white dog is standing amid green grass

Symptoms of Arthritis

Early-stage osteoarthritis can be difficult to diagnose and your dog may not show any symptoms until the joint becomes extremely painful. It is therefore important to keep up with regular vet visits, especially for dogs that are middle-aged to senior, and for breeds that are more prone to developing arthritis. The following symptoms are common in dogs that are affected by osteoarthritis:

  • Difficulty getting up after laying down, seeming stiff when they first get up
  • Walking slowly, reluctant to run, jump or play - general lethargy
  • Weight gain from a reduction in physical activity
  • Changes in behaviour - biting or appearing to be in pain when touched
  • Trouble crouching to urinate or defecate - may have accidents in the house
  • Licking or growling at the affected joints

A black and white dog with brown eyes is looking directly into the camera

Diagnosing Arthritis

If you suspect your dog has arthritis and they have some of the above symptoms, it is important to have them evaluated by a veterinarian who will perform a full examination of your dog before making a diagnosis. Your vet may order x-rays or other scans to examine the degree of damage to the affected joints which will allow them to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.

Treating Arthritis

Weight and Diet Management

If your dog is overweight and affected by arthritis, putting them on a diet is the best thing you can do to help to reduce the pressure on the joints which will alleviate some of their pain and discomfort.

An overweight pug is sitting on dirt beside green grass

Regular Exercise

Increasing your dog's level of activity is also helpful and will ensure their joints remain mobile and their muscles stay strong.

Changes Around the Home

There are also a few adjustments you can make around your home to make life a little easier for your arthritic dog. Providing them with a soft, yet supportive bed gives them somewhere comfortable to rest their weary joints. There are even specially designed orthopaedic dog beds made from memory foam that are extra supportive and comfortable.

If your arthritic dog is a little unsteady on their feet, placing rugs or carpets on slippery floors and stairs can help prevent them from sliding around. Your dog may also find a ramp or set of steps helpful when they want to climb up onto your couch or bed.

A dog with a red bow tie on its collar is sitting and staring at the camera

Non-Prescription Treatments

Non-prescription medications such as green-lipped mussel, glucosamine and chondroitin have natural anti-inflammatory properties. You can purchase non-prescription treatments online from VetShopAustralia.

A black, brown and white dog is lying on timber looking intently at something off to the side

Prescription Treatments

If your dog's arthritis is causing them considerable pain, your veterinarian may prescribe injections or medications that will help alleviate some of your dogs pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a common medication prescribed to dogs with arthritis which help to relieve pain and inflammation.

Previcox is one such NSAID that veterinarians can prescribe for dogs that are suffering from pain and inflammation due to their arthritis. Previcox controls pain and inflammation at the source and works by inhibiting an enzyme that helps to produce the substances that cause pain and inflammation. You can view our prices for Previcox here.

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