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Whether your fur baby has been an agility queen since puppyhood, or a notorious lap dog, unfortunately, your dog will likely develop arthritis at some point in their life.
Arthritis can occur at any point in a dog's life. About 1 in 5 of all adult dogs have arthritis, and 65% of dogs older than seven years of age will suffer from arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
So what can we do? First, we need to understand this common disease before we can explore natural remedies for arthritis in dogs.
What is arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis refers to inflammation and abnormal changes in the joints. But there are different types of arthritis, each with its own causes and symptoms.
The most common type of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis. It’s also known as degenerative joint disease or DJD. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage — the smooth, rubbery tissue that covers the ends of bones and protects joints — breaks down.
As the cartilage wears away, the bones begin to rub against each other. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time.
There are other types of arthritis, too. Infectious arthritis is caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It’s usually the result of an injury or infection elsewhere in the body that spreads to the joints.
Autoimmune arthritis happens when the body’s immune system attacks the joints. This can be caused by conditions like Lyme disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it’s most common in the hips, knees, elbows, and shoulders. It can also affect the neck, back, and ankles.
Arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability in dogs. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 dogs will develop arthritis at some point in their lives.
What causes arthritis in dogs
There are many different causes of arthritis in dogs. The most common cause is age. As dogs get older, their joints naturally begin to wear down. This wear and tear can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Breed – Certain large breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers are more prone to this disease because of their activity level and size.
- Obesity – When dogs carry around excess weight, this will put excess stress on the cartilage and joints, making them at a much higher risk of developing Osteoarthritis.
- Genetic – Some dog breeds are born with hereditary or congenital conditions that can make them more likely to develop arthritis later in life.
- Infection – In some cases, infections (such as Lyme Disease) can cause damage to cartilage and joint tissues.
Unfortunately, arthritis is not a curable disease, but identifying and starting treatment at the early stage will significantly improve your dog's quality of life.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
It may not be immediately obvious to identify arthritis at an early stage, especially when dogs tend to mask their pain well. However, if your dog starts showing any of the following signs or symptoms, we recommend taking your dog to the vet for further diagnosis.
- Reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs, play or jump
- Difficulty or stiffness when trying to stand up or sit down
- Limping, lagging or lameness on walks
- Yelp when touched
- Licking the joints
- Change in personality (such as showing aggression or irritability when normally has good temperament)
As the condition progresses, the pain will worsen, and your dog will have a hard time masking it. For us dog owners, it will be heartbreaking to watch them suffer more each day.
If you notice that your dog is limping, you should check out our recent blog post on how to treat a limping dog at home.
Even though there is no cure for arthritis, the best we can do is control and manage the pain and discomfort so they can have the best quality of life.
How to keep your dog healthy and active while living with arthritis?
Arthritis is a progressive disease, so the best plan of action is to prevent or slow down the development by keeping your dog's joints healthy.
Before you rush to use drugs, we recommend you discuss some of the following with your vet.
Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or slow down the progression of arthritis.
Excess weight puts unnecessary stress on the joints, which can lead to joint damage and pain.
If your dog is overweight, work with your vet to create a weight loss plan that is safe and effective for your dog. This may include a change in diet, more exercise, and/or weight loss supplements.
Just like people, dogs need regular exercise to keep their joints healthy and strong. Exercise helps increase blood flow to the joint, which delivers important nutrients and lubricating fluid to keep the cartilage healthy. It also helps maintain muscle mass, which helps support and protect the joints.
You don't have to run a marathon with your dog to get the exercise they need. A daily walk around the block or playing fetch in the backyard is a great way to start. As your dog gets older, you may need to adjust the type and duration of their exercise routine as their arthritis progresses.
A healthy diet is important for all dogs, but it is especially important for dogs with arthritis. There are several joint supplements on the market that can help support joint health. These supplements usually contain glucosamine, chondroitin, or omega-3 fatty acids, which have all been shown to be beneficial for dogs with arthritis.
You should always talk to your vet before starting your dog on any supplements.
Joint-friendly environment –
Making some changes to your home can also help make your dog's life more comfortable. For example, adding ramps or stairs can help them get up on the bed or couch more easily. Adding non-slip flooring in areas where your dog walks or plays can help prevent falls and further joint damage.
Natural remedies for arthritis in dogs
In addition to the steps you can take in the earlier section to keep your dog healthy and comfortable while living with arthritis, you may also want to talk to your vet about CBD Oil for Dogs with arthritis.
While only a few studies on cannabidiol for arthritis and inflammation have been done so far, the results are promising.
One study concluded that CBD is effective in managing inflammation caused by Osteoarthritis in the majority of dogs. It may even slow down the development of this disease.
The best part is, according to many pet owners, CBD Oil for Dogs has minimal, non-harmful side effects.
Not all CBD oils are created equally, and there are many ineffective products on the market. It's best to do as much research as possible to ensure your dog has the best chance of safely finding relief.