Arthritis in dogs is a 21st century scourge?
All the peoples of the world consider dogs to be a symbol of joy and indomitable energy. These active animals give a man the sea of positive and charge with their cheerfulness. Unfortunately, our favorites (like people) are subject to a variety of diseases. One of the most common and serious pathologies is arthritis in dogs.
This disease not only causes discomfort and limits the mobility of the animal, but also has a rather disappointing prognosis. According to statistics, most cases of arthritis are incurable and become chronic.
In veterinary practice, arthritis is the most common source of chronic pain in our four-legged friends. One in four dogs under 5 years of age and one in three animals after 7 years of age suffer from arthritis.
Arthritis in dogs: causes of illness
Arthritis is a disease of the supporting apparatus due to pathological changes in the joints. The provoking factors for the development of pathology include:
- The old age of a pet. In the vast majority of cases, the signs of arthritis in dogs appear on 5-7 years of life or later. As they age, joints become less mobile and lose their original elasticity.
- Unbalanced diet often leads to obesity and weight gain. Accordingly, the load on the joints increases, which causes premature wear and tear.
- Resettled diseases. Joint injuries, infectious and viral diseases of the musculoskeletal system often precede the appearance of arthritis in dogs.
- Animal hypothermia. Incorrect selection of clothing for pets in the cold season, the location of the sleeping bag in the area of draughts, swimming in the summer in cold water can provoke the development of this pathology.
Knowing the most common causes of arthritis, dog owners can protect their favourite dog from harm.
Don’t miss the signs of arthritis in the dog!
One of the first common symptoms of the disease is a decrease in animal activity. Pets are reluctant to go for long walks, lying around a lot, getting sluggish. A characteristic feature of arthritis in dogs is the swelling of the joint and painful pressure on it.
The animal tries not to use a sick paw when walking – carefully stepping on it or bending at all (hanging limb syndrome). If your dog used to jump up and down at the sight of the host, but now it’s getting up cautiously… There’s a good chance that the cause is an inflamed joint.
A sick paw can hardly bend or straighten. Arthritis in dogs (photos and videos of sick animals can be found on the Internet) is manifested in the characteristic “strenuous gait” and limpness. If the joints of the front limbs are affected, the dog may refuse to go down the stairs or down a steep slide.
With hind legs pain, it’s difficult for your dog to go upstairs, climb on a tall sofa or chair. With the progression of arthritis in dogs, the symptoms increase or new ailments join them.
In the acute form of the disease, the pathology develops rapidly (within hours or days). The symptoms are pronounced, and the contrast with the animal’s condition “yesterday” and “today” is very noticeable.
Chronic arthritis is characterized by a gradual increase in symptoms, the overall picture of the disease remains hidden for a long time. This often misleads owners who attribute this condition to the age of their pets or change in their habits.
Not all breeds are equally prone to arthritis. The risk group includes large breeds: Alabai, Mastiff, Bulldog, Setter, Retriever, Sharpei, St. Bernard, etc.
Large breed owners are advised to be especially vigilant and to treat their dog’s health with special attention. At the first sign of suspicion, you should visit your vet. Timely prescribed corrective therapy will protect against the progression of pathology and significantly improve further prognosis.
Disease patterns: Major hazards
Depending on the cause of the pathology, there are several forms of arthritis in dogs, which are treated differently. Some of these forms can be considered rare, while others account for up to 40% of the total number of cases.
- Traumatic. It is caused by fractures of limbs, sprains, dislocations, bruises and other types of mechanical damage. A provocative factor is the increased load on the healthy joint, which is fraught with a disruption of metabolic processes in the cartilage tissue. Degenerative changes lead to a decrease in functionality of the joint and provoke arthritis.
- Purulent. Infectious complication of traumatic arthritis in dogs, symptoms of which are largely nonspecific. The disease may also develop with inflammation of the peri-articular tissues. Possible complications include the formation of fistulas, the risk of general blood poisoning or the risk of amputation of the limb.
- Functional. Occurs due to increased physical activity on a healthy joint. Inefficient, excessive training of pets leads to pathological changes in the joint cartilage and subsequent tissue degeneration.
- Metabolic. The cause of the disease is improper metabolism in the body. In the metabolic (dystrophic) form of arthritis in dogs there are several subtypes, depending on which substance synthesis is impaired. The consequence of the disease is the deposition of salt crystals or bone softening and deformation.
- Genetic. Quite a rare type of disease, based on genetic disorders. Among the most common pathologies are low cartilage resistance, joint dysplasia, etc. The prognosis for this type of disease is rather disappointing.
- Rheumatoid. It refers to a low prevalence group of autoimmune diseases. The cause of the disease is the ingress of pathogenic bacteria into the animal body. A feature of this type of bacteria is their similarity to bone and cartilage cells. As a result of an immune attack, not only are the bacteria themselves destroyed, but the cartilage also suffers.
How to treat arthritis in dogs?
The diagnosis is based on a comprehensive study of the condition of the dog. After a thorough visual check and examination of the joints (their size, mobility, lack of swelling of tissues), the vet will write a referral to an X-ray.
Specialists strongly recommend that you do not try to treat your four-legged friend on your own. Firstly, there are several forms of arthritis in dogs, which can be very, very different in treatment. Secondly, a self-taught dilettante may mistake other animal diseases for arthritis and try to fight a non-existent disease.
The treatment of arthritis in dogs needs to take a holistic approach and take into account a number of important factors. This is the age of the animal, the form of the disease, the severity of the disease, and the presence of complications, and the presence of other pathologies in the body and … even the nature of your favorite pet!
One of the first steps should be to eliminate the provoking factor (eating habits, getting rid of excessive physical activity, treating an infectious disease, etc.). Before treating your dog for arthritis, your vet will have a detailed conversation with the dog’s owner.
The specialist tries to find out the peculiarities of keeping and walking the animal, learn about his diet and habits. Often it is in a conversation with the owner is already clear why his pet is ill.
With purulent arthritis can not do without powerful antibiotics. In some cases, surgical treatment of arthritis in dogs is required to remove pus accumulation and ensure the outflow of exudate. Surgical intervention is also indicated for bone curvature, dysplasia and fracture, ligament rupture.
Various anti-inflammatory drugs (steroid and non-steroidal) are prescribed to relieve pain, inflammation and swelling of animals. Among the most common drugs Rimadil, Ketoprofen, Metacam, Karprofen, Doxycycline.
The medicine is given together with food, so the dog does not feel unpleasant taste. The swelling in the affected joint can be relieved by using diuretics or various local compresses and ointments.