Managing arthritis in dogs will involve several different options as well a several possible medications, both oral and injectable, and will also include natural treatments. Arthritis as well as joint disease is a condition that can not be prevented in most cases, but it can certainly be managed. With the proper diet, exercise routine, and with the aid of supplements and pain relievers, most dogs can still live a very normal life with this potentially crippling condition.
If your dog is young and is showing signs of arthritis or joint degeneration, or if your dog is older and has osteoarthritis, surgery is an option, but it is very expensive. This leaves the medical and non medical forms of treatment as the only real viable option for most owners. There are different treatments and option available, and in most all cases your veterinarian will recommend several until the right combination is found for your particular dog.
Non Medical Treatments:
The first types of managing arthritis in dogs will come in the form therapy and basic lifestyle management with the most important beginning with weight management in your dog. In almost every case, this is the first condition that needs to be addressed, as all other treatments may not be successful if your dog is overweight.
It is estimated that over fifty percent of all dogs worldwide are over weight and they universally one common denominator that is contributing to this overweight condition; the owner. If your dog is experiencing any type of arthritis or joint problems, the best thing you can do to make your pets life more comfortable is to control their weight. It will not be easy and may be one of the hardest things you have ever done with your dog, but it is the first step in managing this condition.
If you are not sure that your dog is overweight, there are some very simple tests that you can do on your own. Look at your dog from above. You should be able to see a waist behind their rib cage. If they show no waist at all, they are overweight. You can also look at your dog from the side as their waist should also be visible with a tuck behind their ribcage. If their waist is the same depth as their chest, you have your work cut out as they must immediately start to lose some weight.
The next step in managing arthritis in your dog is as important as the first step, and that is providing your dog with enough exercise. Exercise is critical in maintaining a full range of motion as well as muscle structure in helping to limit joint damage. The best form of exercise is defiantly low impact exercise. Any type of high impact exercise such as running wildly and chasing objects can be extremely hard on your dogs joints.
The best forms of exercise will include daily walks or slow jogging with a lease where you can control your dog. Taking your dog up and down stairs, unless they are older and have osteoarthritis, is also an excellent form of exercise. However, by far and away the best exercise for your dog is swimming. It is extremely low resistant but is also very thorough at strengthening all of their muscles. One of the worst things you can do is to take your dog on only occasional walks. If they are not used to walking daily, they may be sore for several days. But if this is all you can do, warm them up at least somewhat during the week.
One of the absolute worst things you could ever do for your dog in managing arthritis is to leave them outside when it is very cold and damp. Arthritis attacks people when it is cold and damp, and your dog is no different than you are. Keeping your dog warm is critical. If they are an outside dog do not assume that just because they are a dog they can manage. Make sure they have warm and dry bedding at all times.
As your dog ages or as the arthritis increases, you may need to place them near a heat supply or provide them with a sweater, as they will become extremely sensitive to cold and damp conditions. Massage therapy is also very helpful as well as moist heat, and massaging your dog gently with your fingertips in slow circular motions will help to loosen their muscles. But be very careful, especially if they have a lot of pain, and start slowing. Your dog will love you for this as it is very relaxing to them.
Medically managing arthritis in dogs will always start with glucosamine and chondroitin. Is been used now for several years now and is extremely effective, especially with osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is a sugar that is instrumental in the synthesis and maintenance of the cartilages in your dogs joints. Chondroitin helps to enhance the affects of glucosamine as well as inhibits the damaging of enzymes in their joints.
Combined, they give the cartilage forming cells the needed help in the bones and joints to synthesize new cartilages as well as assisting in repairing any damage that is done to existing cartilages.
These products are also extremely safe and have very few side affects. One of the newest methods of helping in managing arthritis in dogs is from Perna Mussels. This is an edible shellfish that is processed into a very fine power and added to products. It has several properties that help with inflammation and is starting to show some very strong results as well. Tetracycline in the form of doxycycline has also demonstrated to slow down the enzymes that break down in your dogs cartilages. It is still in the testing stage, but it is something you might want to ask your veterinarian about.
However, perhaps some of most beneficial forms of treatments will come in supplements that include Creatine, Vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Duralactin.
Creatine is an amino acid derivative that is formed in the liver, kidneys and the pancreas. It is found in red meat as well as fish, and although it is not a muscle builder in itself, it does assist in your dogs body in the production of adenosine. It helps tremendously in building muscle atrophy, and losing the muscle atrophy is one of the leading causes of osteoarthritis in your dog.
Vitamin C is not only an antioxidant, but it also is extremely important in the synthesis of both collagen and cartilage in your dog. Your dog does produce their own vitamin C, but supplementing at a reasonable level can only help your dog if they are suffering from arthritis or joint problems. Omega-3 fatty acids help in managing arthritis by their anti-inflammatory properties. Duralactin is relatively new on the scene, and is an ingredient derived form the milk of grass fed cows. It is showing to have extremely strong anti-inflammatory properties and is a non-prescription medication.
Corticosteroids have been used for years and also are extremely effective in controlling inflammation, but they have one major drawback; they have some very serious side effects. If your veterinarian does recommend this as a treatment make sure you ask about the side affects. If you are not satisfied with the answers, seek a second opinion, as they can be that dangerous.
Managing arthritis in dogs is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. The first steps are weight management, exercise, and than finding the right combination of medical treatments and supplements. Except in the most severe of cases, if properly managed, your loyal companion can live a very normal life for several more years.
I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a “mutt” that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.
He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.
After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.
After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.
Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.
I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process.
Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website: