As is the case with humans, restricted mobility and increased lethargy are tell-tale signs of arthritis in dogs. In the United States, roughly 20% percent of our “furry family” members suffer from arthritis. Fortunately, once pet parents have identified these signs, treatment can begin immediately. This is critical, because arthritis left untreated can progress to permanent immobility in your beloved pet. Your first step should be a visit to your veterinarian.
Dog ArthritisYour veterinarian can help diagnose and prescribe treatment for your pet’s arthritis. With their knowledge of pets and arthritis, data from your pet’s medical history, and results of a combination of physical exam, x-rays, blood tests, and MRI imaging, they can properly and specifically diagnose the type of arthritis from which your pet is suffering. (Be sure to check with your pet insurance provider, as many of these expenses are covered under comprehensive policies.) Whether it is osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia or degenerative joint disease, your veterinarian is best-equipped to provide your pet with the safest, most efficacious arthritis treatment.
Upon diagnosis of your pet’s condition, your vet will prescribe medication and/or therapy to treat your pet’s arthritis. Do not administer any over-the-counter medications (especially human painkillers) to your pet without prior approval from a licensed veterinarians, as this could produce severe – and sometimes fatal – outcomes. Steroids and anti-inflammatories can work for pets, alleviating pain, swelling and inflammation in their joints.
In some cases, surgical procedures such as arthroscopy, arthrodesis, or complete joint replacement are performed to remove and/or correct abnormal joint alignment and remove broken fragments of damaged bones. However, surgery does not work for all pets suffering from arthritis; below are some homeopathic, less invasive arthritis therapies to consider:
1. Dog massage – a good massage can relax your dog’s joints, alleviating the “seizing up” or stiffening they experience with painful arthritis; it can also be an excellent remedy for your pet’s sluggishness. Ask your vet to demonstrate proper massage technique on your pet for you; although you are well-intended, your pet is already in pain from the arthritis and you do not want to aggravate their discomfort by massaging them too aggressively, etc.;
2. Heat treatments – just like their pet parents, when dogs suffering from arthritis are exposed to cold, it can exacerbate the condition, causing more pain. Applying heat can soothe the irritation and discomfort; hot water bottles work well;
3. Joint lubricants – ask your veterinarian about medications and/or supplements that combat arthritis and encourage an increased production of joint lubricant, as well as cartilage regeneration.
By combining the therapies listed above, you can significantly alleviate your pet’s arthritic symptoms. Remember, however, that your first step in diagnosing and treating your pet’s arthritis should be a visit to your veterinarian for a comprehensive evaluation.
Pets Best Insurance is located in Boise, Idaho and provides pet insurance for the healthcare of dogs and cats. Jack Stephens, DVM is the president and co-founder of Pets Best and was the original founder of pet health insurance in the United States.