Does your dog have Osteoarthritis? Poor thing, it can really bring them down and make them feel poorly. Widely known as arthritis, Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is actually Osteoarthrosis. This is a painful and deteriorating condition which is permanent and long-term. It can develop as a result of trauma, malformation, or age. It is chronic inflammation of the joint which becomes stiff and loses normal range of motion.
RELATED READING: Physical Therapy On Animals
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Immune-mediated arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematous occurs when the body’s own immune system begins to attack and destroy the articular surfaces of the joints, causing pain in different areas of the body and inflammation.
In your old pet, there is more risk of diagnosis of osteoarthrosis due to wear and tear of cartilage and joints. Has he or she suffered from a trauma in the past? Or maybe they were born with a congenital defect? An example of this would be hip dysplasia which is very common in German Shepherd dogs.
Did you know?
Osteoarthrosis is when a joint degenerates and Osteoarthritis is when that joint is inflamed.*
An older pet is more likely to be overweight, given its years of treats and general overeating. This will put strain on bones and joints, thereby giving way to osteoarthritis. Animals with diabetes on steroid treatments are also at greater risk.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
- The animal becomes lethargic with a decreased level of activity
- She has a stiffness which worsens with exercise
- He has occasional lameness.
Have you noticed any of the above symptoms present in your own dog? Then please consult a veterinarian with a view to understanding their lack of activity or stiffness. A vet will go through various tests checking for range of motion and deformity in any of the joints, swelling or pain.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, only management of the symptoms. In serious cases, surgery may be considered. There are reconstructive procedures which can be carried out, as well as replacement or removal of joints in the most severe cases.
Range of Motion (ROM)
This is measured in degrees and measures the range of movement of a joint. An animal’s range of motion can be helped greatly with physical therapy, swimming and massage. Your pet will benefit from the exercise and their muscle tone will be improved. Good muscle tone will in turn support tired joints and lessen any pain suffered. You’ll also find you’ll get a good workout too! Or you might consider asking your vet to recommend an Animal Physiotherapist near where you live.
Pain management is in the form of hot and cold therapy, while inflammation and swelling in the joints will be managed by long-term anti-inflammatory medications. Having a very comfortable orthopaedic bed to lay on will give much comfort to an animal who is feeling pain from their joints. There are numerous types of beds available, made especially for animals with osteoarthritis and these memory foam beds allow the animal to rest while the mattress moulds around their body giving support and comfort.
It goes without saying…
If you do suspect that your pet is suffering in any way, shape or form, please always take him/her to the veterinary clinic for a full diagnosis. Your vet will have the specialised equipment to carry out a full consultation and explain the cause of symptoms presented and, of course, prescribe the necessary medication required.
As a pet grows older, she naturally slows down (as do humans) and exercises like going for walkies will take place less often. However, an owner needs to keep an eye on activity levels so as not to aggravate symptoms or cause undue pain to an animal who is already suffering the effects of osteoarthritis. Of course, it’s not only dogs who suffer from this illness – cats and all mammals can also develop symptoms as they reach old age.
I hope you may have learned something from reading my post – I hope you found it helpful. If you do have an animal with osteoarthritis, I sincerely hope they find the pain relief necessary so they may live a happy life.
Do you have any pets suffering from this debilitating disease? Have you found any ingenious ways to help them get around? I look forward to reading your comments below and if you have any questions, please let me know and I will get back to you. Thank you.
*Reference: Reconstructive Review – Volume 7, Number 1, March 2017