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Osteoarthritis in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Osteoarthritis is not expressly a human condition; your fur baby can also catch it! 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; in this case, the dog often suffers 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?

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, it results in thinning of the joint cartilage and swelling in the articular cartilage that joins the joints. Fatty acids build up in the joints, causing swelling, causing further pain.

Worse yet…

Arthritis in dogs can also lead to osteophyte formation. These little bone-like growths form inside 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 cannot tell you it is hurting, so you might 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, 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 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 moment any dog turns down its dinner is the second you take them to the local veterinarian!

Breeds Most Commonly Affected 

Numerous dog breeds can be affected by this disease, and it is not restricted to pedigree breeds. This condition affects roughly one in five dogs at some point, so maintaining regular joint care into old age is essential prevention. Giant dog and cat breeds will most likely suffer from arthritis.

These breeds are known to be predominantly affected:

Remember that this list is incomplete, and arthritis also has high rates among mixed-breed pups.

Treatment Options

To begin with, the veterinary surgeon will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to remove some of the swelling and thus ease the pain. These drugs are best used briefly before they 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, you want to increase your pet’s intake of glucosamine and fatty acids as these have shown some signs of lessening the pain more naturally. If all else fails and your dog is still reasonably young, solid, and otherwise healthy, your vet may wish it to undergo surgery to ease the pain it will suffer.  Ultimately the choice is yours, but vets don’t like to operate on older dogs if they can help. This is why it is so essential to maintain healthy joints as your dog ages. Various dietary supplements will help you to do so.

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  We are all a bunch of folks 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), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!  This is also 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 suitable 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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