How to Reduce the Impact of Your Dog's Arthritis - Call the Vet Arthritis Special
Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the pet dog population. It is a disease that every pet owner should know about.
In this special edition of the podcast, I answer the questions put to me during a live discussion on the excellent Canine Arthritis Management Facebook page.
Reducing Joint Damage
Barbara asks is walking up and down stairs more slowly is better that letting your dog do navigate steps more quickly
Yes, being slower means that less force is being transmitted through the joints.
If higher forces are repeated over a number of months and years, then more joint damage is going to take place. As well as stairs, consider jumping in and out of the car, ball throwing for your dog, and any other regular activities they might do which could negatively impact their joints.
Going slower will also make slips, trips and falls less likely, which will help prevent an acute flair-up of joint pain.
If possible, avoid steps or reduce their impact through the use of ramps. Environmental modification is an important part of any arthritis management plan.
Slowing the Development of Arthritis
Patricia has a young dog who has had hip problems. She asks if this makes arthritis more likely, and if so then how can this be prevented.
Unfortunately joint disease or injury does typically make arthritis an inevitability later in life
Taking early action can help to reduce the severity and speed of onset of arthritis. This can include:
Weight management - keep your dog lean
Limit high impact activities (like ball throwing + jumping)
Maintain your dogs muscle mass to help stabilize the joint and limit damage. This can be achieved with controlled exercise, swimming and hydrotherapy, along with physiotherapy
Start supplements early. Omega 3 fatty acids are likely to make more difference is started early
Consider surgery depending on severity and nature of the hip disease
Monitor for signs of pain and arthritis and take action early
Pain Killer Safety
There were a lot of questions and concerns expressed about the safely of NSAIDs, the most common pain killer and anti-inflammatory given to arthritis dogs.
NSAIDs, in general, offer the best chance of a dog being as pain-free as possible
The most common side effects are intestinal upset with vomiting of diarrhea that resolves when the drug is stopped.
There is a very low risk of liver and kidney disease, although appropriate monitoring and taking certain precautions can further reduce the risk of side effects.
With any intervention, there is a need to weight-up the risks compared to the benefits.
Hot Weather and Arthritis
June asks if hot weather can make arthritis worse as her dog develops swelling and becomes more painful.
Worsening arthritis is more often linked to cold weather and falling barometric pressure
Hot weather can cause blood vessel dilation and fluid shifts within the body. This can cause increased pressure on the joint and more pain as a result
In June’s case, steps can be taken to try and keep her dog cool.
If you notice anything in particular triggers your dog’s arthritis, then take steps to try and reduce the impact this has
Close monitoring and tackling the disease from multiple angles offers the best chance of keeping your dog as comfortable as possible
If you would like me to answer any question you have about your pet’s health, simply fill in this form and I’ll try and get you the information that you need.
It’s that simple!