Arthritis in Dogs
Most of you know that my Chico is now 14 years old, soon to be 15. He is my senior “advisor” at ChiChis And Me. He inspires me to help others who have “senior” dogs and want to keep them healthy and as pain-free as possible. According to all the questions, I get from readers, I am not alone. Many of you have senior dogs at home that are suffering from canine arthritis. However, canine arthritis in dogs is also found in younger dogs.
That’s why I’m writing about arthritis. Chico has had arthritis for a while now, but it is getting worse. He will no longer go up and down the stairs and walks a little more gingerly.
It’s the times I noticed that he seems to be in pain that I decided that I needed to find someway to help him. According to PetMD, arthritis is the most commonly under-treated disease in veterinarian medicine.
What is it?
First, we need to understand what arthritis is and why it’s painful. In short, normal joints have smooth surfaces that glide. Over time, however, tiny changes occur. These changes mar the slippery texture with bumps, ridges, and grooves that result in a grating and grinding motion instead of gliding. To stabilize the joints, the body lays down little bony bits in the joint and that causes more grinding and pain and lots of stiffening.
How to tell if your dog has arthritis
- He’s slower to get up in the morning or when you call him
- He gets tired more easily and doesn’t want to walk as far as he used to
- He no longer has the spring in his step that he used to (watch an old video of him to compare)
- He no longer jumps up on the couch as he used to, preferring his bed on the floor
- He no longer will climb stairs
- Muscle Mass
The best way to prevent or treat arthritis in dogs is to keep them at a healthy weight. If your Chi is at a healthy weight it reduces the stress on the joints. If your Chihuahua is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about a weight loss plan.
There are many dog foods on the market now with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are balanced to the correct ratio and can reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the joints. Your vet may also recommend glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These are two commonly used supplements that support joint health by maintaining the cartilage and repairing any defects that might be present. If you decide to give your dog any of these supplements, please discuss it with your veterinarian first. These need to be in the proper balance and he or she can help you determine what that is for your dog.
Be sure that your dog gets adequate exercise. This will both help strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints, which helps relieve pain, but will also help with any weight issues they may have.
In the next post, I’ll tell you about both traditional and alternative treatments from Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian with PetMD