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Osteoarthritis in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Osteoarthritis is not expressly a human condition –

And your fur baby can catch it too! Osteoarthritis (or OA) in dogs and cats is a fairly common disease that predominantly affects older animals. Sometimes just called by the shortened name of Arthritis and occasionally known as Degenerative Joint disease; this horrible disease will leave your poor pooch in pain and can ultimately lead to lameness.

Osteoarthritis is particularly…

Dangerous because many owners will attribute the clinical signs (stiffness in the joints, problems getting up or down, less active than they used to be) to old age. Such conditions often worsen over time and in this case the dog is often suffering intense pain before a diagnosis is made. Don’t be the pet owner that misses the signs. Take your dog to the vet regularly, especially into their old age.

So, what is Osteoarthritis in Dogs and how does it happen?

Canine Osteoarthritis (because both cats and humans can have this disease) occurs when pain and inflammation of the joint cause your pup to suffer. This pain can happen for many reasons; be it:

  • An infection,
  • An old injury,
  • An immune reaction,
  • Or even a conformational disorder.

Regardless of the cause though…

It results in thinning of the joint cartilage and swelling in the articular cartilage that joins the joints together. Fatty acids then build up in the joints and these joints swelling then cause further pain.

Worse yet…

Arthritis in dogs can also lead to osteophyte formation. These little bone-like growths form on the inside of the joints and grind against the bone whenever the dog moves.

And…

As you can imagine, when your every movement depends on joint health this condition can get quite painful. Worse still is that your dog has no way to tell you it is hurting, and so you might well put the change down to old age.

Degenerative Joint Disorder (DJD for short)…

Causes pain and inflammation of the joints. It is often found in conjunction with other conditions. For example, if your pet has suffered from hip or elbow dysplasia or patella luxation in the past then there is a high chance they will also suffer from Osteoarthritis at some point in their later lives.

Clinical signs include:

  • Lack of willingness to move, run or jump,
  • Weight loss,
  • Lack of appetite,
  • Limping when they walk,
  • Trouble rising or lying down,
  • Swelling around their joints and potential problems climbing stairs.

Although dogs do lose a little mobility as they age it should not be to the point that they don’t want to eat.

As a general rule of thumb…

The second any dog turns down its dinner is the second you take them to the local veterinarian!

Breeds affected by this condition

Numerous dog breeds can be affected by this disease and it is not restricted to pedigree breeds, either. This condition affects roughly one in five dogs at some point in their lives so maintaining regular joint care into old age is essential prevention. That being said, larger dog and cat breeds are the animals most likely to suffer from arthritis.

These breeds are known to be predominantly affected:

  • The Alaskan Malamute
  • The Basset Hound
  • The Bloodhound
  • The Boxer
  • The Bull Mastiff
  • The Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • The Chow Chow
  • The Dachshund
  • The German Shepherd Dog
  • The Golden Retriever
  • The Greyhound
  • The Great Dane
  • The Labrador Retriever
  • The Newfoundland
  • The Old English Sheepdog
  • The Pit Bull Terrier
  • The Poodle
  • The Pug
  • The Rottweiler
  • The Samoyed
  • The Shetland Sheep Dog
  • The St. Bernard

Remember that this list isn’t exhaustive and arthritis has high rates among mixed breed pups, too.

Treatment Options

To begin with, the veterinary surgeon is likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS to take away some of the swelling and thus ease the pain. These drugs are best used for a short period of time lest it damage your poor pup’s kidneys or intestines. Alternatively, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to do much the same thing.

Your vet will also…

Usually want to up your pet’s intake of glucosamine and fatty acids as these have shown some signs of lessening the pain in a more natural way. If all else fails and if your dog is still reasonably young, strong and is otherwise healthy; your vet may wish your dog to undergo surgery to ease the pain that it will suffer in the future.

Ultimately…

The choice is yours, but vets don’t like to operate on older dogs if they can help it. This is why it is so important to maintain healthy joints as your dog ages. There are various dietary supplements that will help you to do so.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have osteoarthritis (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!

Because…

The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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