How to Identify and Treat Joint Problems in Dogs
If your dog has been walking funny, or your four-legged friend appears to be avoiding exercise, it could be suffering from joint problems such as arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis), hip dysplasia or tears in its anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
What breeds of dog are more susceptible to joint problems?
Although Rottweilers are more at risk of developing joint issues than other breeds of dogs, just about any breed can develop debilitating joint problems.
What are some causes of joint problems in dogs?
The dog’s age, size, and weight are good predictors of joint problems. If the dog is overweight, the extra pounds can place undue stress on the joints. As your dog ages, the cartilage in its bones can wear away which leads to joint problems. Especially if the dog has led a very active lifestyle.
Your dog may be having joint problems if it:
- Walks with a limp or favors one leg
- Climbs stairs or jumps on the sofa with difficulty
- Refuses to go on long runs or it has a hard time keeping up
How can joint problems in dogs be treated?
Your veterinarian might take one of two approaches: surgical or non-surgical.
- The surgical method includes arthroscopic cleaning of the joint or a joint replacement in extreme cases.
- The non-surgical approach includes weight loss, strength training, and/or administering supplements for dogs with fish oils which help reduce inflammation in the joints.
Joint Supplements for Dogs – a preventive solution. Dog joint supplements help prevent cartilage breakdown, protect existing cartilage and stimulate cartilage production. Most joint supplements for dogs contain a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin and ASU to help improve joint function. Dasuquin, Cosequin , Glyco-Flex , and VetCrafted are the more common dog joint supplements available on the market. And they are available without a prescription.
A good preventative is to keep your dog at a proper weight. By maintaining a healthy weight you can reduce your dog’s chances of developing joint issues. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what your dog’s proper weight should be. You might also wish to consult with a breeder that is familiar with your breed of dog.
About hip dysplasia in dogs
Hip dysplasia is a developmental problem in which the joints do not develop correctly.
If your dog has hip dysplasia it might exhibit the following symptoms:
- Runs with an altered gait
- Resists fully extending or flexing the rear legs
- Displays stiffness or pain in the rear legs especially after exercising or early in the morning
Important: If not treated right away, a dog with hip dysplasia will eventually lose its ability to walk.
How is hip dysplasia in dogs treated?
- Surgical treatment of hip dysplasia may include one of the following procedures: total hip replacement, triple pelvic osteotomy, or femoral head and neck excision.
- Non-surgical treatment of hip dysplasia includes: weight management, mild exercise, or physical therapy. Your veterinarian may also prescribe pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications for dogs with arthritis. Some of the more typical medications are Rimadyl, Meloxicam, or Vetprofen.
In summary, joint problems are caused by age, size and weight, and your dog’s level of activity. Certain breeds may be more prone to joint problems than others, but in most cases obesity and the ageing process is the cause of most joint problems. A slowing down in physical activity, or difficulty in climbing steps or jumping on furniture are signs that your dog may have joint problems. If you suspect your dog is suffering from joint problems, take it to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. While some cases might require surgery, a weight-loss regimen with strength-building exercises may help most cases. In addition, dog joint supplements are a great way to treat joint problems.