As our dogs get
older they start to go through the aging process just like we ourselves do.
Unlike us however, they accept these changes much better than we do in most
cases. They adjust to loss of hearing, sight, smell and their other senses
without a lot of hoopla. They also accept an increase in pain much the same
Rarely do we know
these changes are taking place so subtle the are at first. It usually takes
their loss of appetite, movement or other obvious signs. An increase in
stiffness in the morning, more naps slept more soundly. An increase in pain. In
smaller dogs patella problems. Hip Dysplasia. There are many views and
treatments available for arthritis today. I have collected a few articles as
well as different "ways to go". There are MANY more articles and
sites on the web for more information. I am thankful to all who have taken the
time and effort to study and share the info with us. I hope having this
gathering if sources will at least give a jumping off point for your study and
dogs with arthritis you will learn about canine arthritis and how to
help your dog overcome its potentially debilitating effects. Read
about the diagnosis of canine arthritis and the common methods to
treat dog arthritis. Find out about effective pain management steps
you can take at home to help your canine companion live an active and
doesn't have to destroy your dog's quality of life!
Your veterinarian will help you treat your dog's pain. Make an
appointment at once if you've observed changes in your dog's behavior
or energy levels.
You don't have a veterinarian yet? Visit Locate
find the right veterinarian for you and your dog!
There are several types of arthritis that can afflict dogs of all breeds
and sizes. The most common forms of canine arthritis are:
is a form of degenerative joint disease. There is often a genetic
component to the disease and symptoms are often progressive with age. It can
involve the deterioration of and changes to the cartilage and bone. In response
to inflammation in and about the joint, the body
responds with bony remodeling around the joint structure. This process can be
slow and gradual with minimal outward symptoms, or more rapidly progressive
with significant pain and discomfort. Osteoarthritic changes can occur in
response to infection and injury of the joint as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a type of
inflammatory arthritis in which the dog's immune system actually produces
antibodies against the body's own protein. The result is severe inflammation
that damages cartilage and surrounding tissues. RA can affect all of your dog's
joints and may cause debilitating pain if not properly and promptly treated.
Infectious Arthritis: This type of arthritis is caused by a bacterial,
viral or fungal infection in your dog's joints. The infecting organism is
carried to the joint via your dog's bloodstream from an infection occurring in
another part of the body. Any infection should be immediately checked by your
Hip dysplasia is probably the most common example of degenerative joint
disease. The amount of osteoarthritis that results from having hip dysplasia
can vary and it is generally more of a clinical problem in large and giant
breeds of dogs. The degree of laxity in the hip joint is genetically determined
and, in general, the looser the hips, the higher the likelihood that
osteoarthritic changes will result.
Why does my dog have arthritis?
Like human arthritis, canine arthritis is widespread and diverse in its
causes. Dogs develop arthritic conditions as a result of:
Previous injuries or accidents
Immune system problems
Excessive strain through repeated activity and exercise
Many older pets (and people) that are "stiff" are actually
experiencing arthritic symptoms. Most require no treatment. The best action is
to consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and proper treatment if indicated.
Any of a wide selection of Orthopedic
can provide real relief to dogs afflicted with arthritis and limited mobility.
Are you worried? Do you suspect that your dog might have arthritis?
Veterinarians have developed a list of signs that might indicate that your dog
has arthritis. Look for the following symptoms:
reluctance to lie down or get up
trouble running and climbing stairs
audible "clicking" when walking
change in behavior that seems to indicate pain
swelling and inflammation of the joints
limited movements and lack of desire to exercise
Should your dog exhibit one or more of these signs on a recurring basis, don't
hesitate to take her in for a medical checkup.
At the Veterinarian
Veterinarians will consider the genetic makeup of your dog: for example,
large and giant breed dogs are especially prone to hip dysplasia. Your
veterinarian will check your dog's medical history, since some forms of
arthritis may result from previous injuries.
Your veterinarian will probably want to take x-rays to check for bone and joint
deterioration. She will listen for crackling and popping sounds (your vet may
use the term "crepitus") in your dog's joints, a common sign of
arthritis. Your veterinarian will then suggest a treatment plan that best
matches your dog's condition.
If you don't feel comfortable with your veterinarian's diagnosis, you may
choose to get a second opinion, especially if the treatment recommendation
Can I Help My Arthritic Dog at Home?
Try the following methods to reduce the pain and discomfort that arthritis
Eliminate strenuous exercise routines. Typically, regular,
non-impact exercise is beneficial and helps maintain
Find ways to help her avoid going up and down stairs or
in and out of the car or truck.
Massaging your arthritic dog has many benefits
relaxes your dog
soothes sore muscles
reduces physical pain
allows you to check dog's skin for unusual lumps
helps you bond
If you do not feel comfortable massaging your dog, you may choose to have a
professional animal masseuse work with him. Interest is growing in this area
and you should have no problem finding the right masseuse or additional
information on the topic. Many people report a lot of success using emu oil,
oil pet products
to learn more, or Managing
for more tips and advice.
Change Your Dog's Bedding
Dogs suffering from arthritis have difficulty finding a pain free sleeping
position. If your dog is too heavy to lift, consider buying your pooch his own
Ironically, many arthritic dogs will seek hard, cold surfaces for sleeping.
Generally, these pets are probably tolerating the hard surface for the relief
afforded by the cool temperature. A cool, soft surface may be welcomed by these
pets. Dogs who sleep on their owner's bed may have trouble getting on and off
the bed. If your dog is too heavy to lift, consider buying your pooch his own
Providing your dog a suitable bed is one of the best things you can do to help
prevent and manage arthritis pain.
One of the most helpful aids to owners with large dogs is a portable dog ramp.
This device allows you dog continued access to vehicles and other locations
when they are no longer able to jump and climb.
Arthritis is a pain
in the joints
- Signs of
The canine skeletal system is
a marvel of bones, cartilage, and ligaments that provide the body with a
framework to erect on four strong legs, protect internal organs, and provide a
full range of motion. The muscles furnish the power to propel the dog into
action, but without healthy bones, joints, and connective tissue, the muscles
cannot do their job.
Joints — the skeletal hinges
— give the skeleton flexibility for walking, trotting, running, jumping,
climbing, and moving the head and neck to increase the field of vision. The
dog's body has three types of joints: ball and socket such as the hip and
shoulder joints; hinged joints such as the knees and elbows; and gliding or
plane joints such as the wrists and ankles. The joints are lubricated for
smooth action by synovial fluid and are stabilized by tendons and ligaments.
When the joints are damaged by injury or disease, arthritis (joint
inflammation) can occur.
“He has arthritis” is
probably the most common reaction of the pet owner whose Fido or Fluffy is
stiff-legged after exercise, has trouble getting up in the morning, or is
reluctant to go up or down stairs. But since such stiffness or lameness can
have several causes and since arthritis itself comes in different types, a trip
to the veterinarian is a more prudent move than slipping the pooch a couple of
aspirin for the discomfort.
Arthritis results from
inflammation in the joints and is generally divided into two types —
degenerative and inflammatory — according to the source of that irritation.
joint disease (osteoarthritis)
results from destruction of the cartilage that protects the bones that make up
the joint. Cartilage destruction can be the result of normal stress on abnormal
joints or abnormal stress on normal joints(1). Hip dysplasia(2),
a malformation of the hip sockets, is one example of normal stress on abnormal
joints. Constant jumping over obstacles, stretching or tearing ligaments during
strenuous exercise, or injuries in a fall or accident are examples of abnormal
stress on normal joints.
Degenerative joint disease can
be further subdivided into primary disease for which no known cause is evident
and secondary disease for which a cause can be pinpointed. Among the causes of
secondary degenerative joint disease are hip dysplasia, patella luxation (loose
kneecaps), osteochondritis dissecans (OCD, the development of cartilage “flaps”
in the joints when bone development is disturbed), trauma, and ruptured
cruciate (knee) ligaments. Secondary degenerative joint disease can sometimes
be prevented or halted by surgical repair of the joint before arthritis
Degenerative arthritis may not
manifest until the dog has had years of abnormal stress. Since cartilage has no
nerves, the damage can progress with no outward signs until the joint is
severely compromised and the lubricating fluid has thinned and lost its ability
to protect the bone surfaces.
disease can be
caused by infection or by underlying immune-mediated diseases. Inflammatory
arthritis usually affects multiple joints and is accompanied by signs of
systemic illness including fever, anorexia, an all-over stiffness.
Again, this type of arthritis
is subdivided into infectious and immune-mediated categories. Infectious joint
disease can be caused by bacteria, by tick-borne diseases such as Rocky
Mountain spotted fever, and by fungal infection.
Immune-mediated arthritis is
cause by underlying weakness in the immune system and can be hereditary.
Rheumatoid arthritis, a deforming type of immune-mediated arthritis, is rare in
dogs. Systemic lupus and an idiopathic (unidentified) immune-related arthritis
both can cause nondestructive joint infections.
Because infectious joint
disease and immune-mediated joint disease call for different treatment
protocols, diagnosis must be accurate. The immuno-suppressive drugs used to
treat the immune-mediated disease may allow the infectious type of disease to
- Reluctance to walk, climb
stairs, jump, or play
- Lagging behind on walks
- Difficulty rising from a
- Yelping in pain when
- A personality change
Degenerative joint disease can
sometimes be halted or prevented by surgery when x-rays indicate joint
malformations. If surgery is not indicated or advisable, relief can be achieved
with painkillers, exercise, rest, and diet. However, even over-the-counter
painkillers should not be used without the advice of a veterinarian.(4)
Researchers are ever busy
trying to find new generations of drugs to relieve pain. The latest in pain
relievers for canine arthritis includes
- Rimadyl, Adequan, and
Palaprin, all available only from veterinarians.
- Rimadyl (generic name
carprofen) has gotten raves from veterinarians for its ability to relieve
pain with few side effects. Long-term use of this drug requires periodic
blood tests for liver function, but most dogs apparently do well on it.
Like all drugs, however, Rimadyl is not effective for all patients.
- Adequan (polysulfated
glycosaminoglycan)(5) is given by injection twice each week
for four weeks. It not only relieves the pain of arthritis, it binds to
damaged cartilage to facilitate repair, blocks the action of destructive
enzymes that cause inflammation, and stimulates the production of healthy
- Palaprin6 is a buffered
aspirin specifically for dogs; it can be used in the same circumstances
in which aspirin is used but without the gastrointestinal irritation that
sometimes occurs with aspirin.
There are other drug
treatments; dogs with arthritis should be under veterinary care, and the
veterinarian can determine which treatment is best for each dog.
Diet also plays an important
part in arthritis treatment, especially to control the patient's weight. Excess
weight causes more stress on the joints and exacerbates existing arthritis
pain. In large breed dogs, periods of rapid growth can lead to development of
OCD and joint dysplasia' if the underlying genetic code is present, so special
attention should be paid to the diets of these puppies to prevent too-rapid
Whether drugs, surgery, or
both are indicated in arthritis treatment owners should make sure their pets
get plenty of rest and are not asked to perform painful exercise during
treatment and recuperation. Veterinary advice in the matter of exercise should
be followed even though it may seem that the recovery is slow. Ultimately, the
type and duration of exercise will have to be restricted to reduce the pain as
much as possible.
- From Canine Orthopedics by
Robert L. Rooks DVM and Connie Jankowski, the primary source of
information for this article.
- See hip
- Signs of Arthritis” from
Pfizer Animal Health, manufacturers of Rimadyl.
- See “Over-the-counter
drugs can poison pets”
- Information provided by
Luitpold Pharmaceuticals Inc., manufacturers of Adequan.
- Information provided by
PharmX Animal Health Technology Division, manufacturers of Palaprin.
Norma Bennett Woolf
[Dog Owner's Guide: Arthritis (www.canismajor.com/dog/arthrit.html)]
is a part of the Dog Owner's Guide internet website and is copyright
2003 by Canis Major Publications. You may print or download this material for
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If you, your organization or business would like to reprint our articles in a
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see our reprint policy.
you seen the rest of the Dog Owner's Guide articles on
Health and veterinary information
you seen these books from amazon.com about
Arthritis, Health and
If you live in Cincinnati, Ohio don't miss the
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Owner's Guide Related Articles
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Dog Owner's Guide,
in association with AMAZON.COM, recommends these books for more information on
. . .
Connie Jankowski, et al/Hardcover/1997
to Skin and Haircoat Problems in Dogs
Lowell Ackerman /Paperback/1994
of Dog Diseases & Health Problems : Signs, Diagnoses, Causes,
Dick Lane, Neil Ewart/Hardcover/1997
American Animal Hospital Association Encyclopedia of Dog Health and Care
Sally Bordwell, American Animal Hospital Association/Paperback/1996
: The Ultimate Care Guide : Good Health, Loving Care, Maximum Longevity
Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
Richard H. Pitcairn, et al/Paperback/1995
What the Doctor Ordered : A Complete Guide to Drugs and Medications for
Race Foster, Marty Smith/Hardcover/1996
Tellington TTouch : A Revolutionary Natural Method to Train and Care for
Your Favorite Animal
Dog Breeding : The Complete Handbook of Canine Midwifery
Chris Walkowicz, et al/Hardcover/1994
for Your Older Dog
Chris C. Pinney/Paperback/1995
of Canine Genetic Diseases
George A. Padgett/Hardcover/1998
: The Quick Guide to First Aid for Your Dog
Michelle C D.V.M. Bamberger/Paperback/1993
Tellington TTouch for Happier, Healthier Dogs, featuring Linda Tellington-Jones
Kelly Hart/VHS Tape/ (n/a)
Davis Book of Dogs : The Complete Medical Reference Guide for Dogs and
School of Veterinary Medicine Staff, Mordecai Siegal/Hardcover/1995
Complete Dog Care Manual
Bruce, Dr. Fogle/Hardcover/1993
Aid for Dogs : What to Do When Emergencies Happen
Bruce Fogle, Amanda Williams (Illustrator)/Paperback/1997
Kennel Club Dog Care and Training
American Kennel Club/Paperback/1991
Merck Veterinary Manual (8th Ed)
Susan E. Aiello/Hardcover/1998
Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook
Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffin/Hardcover/1992
our list of recommended books arranged by topic
Dogs are sometimes
effected by osteoarthritis which is caused by the degradation of the cartilage
within a joint. Cartilage is a buffer between bones in a joint. The breakdown
of cartilage can reduce the function of the joint and create pain or stiffness.
Mild arthritis is uncomfortable. Severe arthritis, which can progress to bone
on bone contact, is very painful. Symptoms of osteoarthritis in your dog
include: stiffness in the` joints, favoring a limb, difficulty in sitting or
standing, hesitancy to jump, decreased activity level, and lethargy. There are
a variety of treatments for canine arthritis, but unfortunately no cure. The
main element of treating arthritis is pain management. In the most severe cases
surgery may be required. However, less extreme treatments are recommended for
most dogs. Pain relieving lotions are a safe way to treat the aches and
stiffness of arthritis. Your vet may also prescribe medication to reduce
swelling and discomfort. A newer treatment is dietary. Glucosamine and
Chondroitin have been found helpful in relieving inflammation and reducing the
degenerative process in some dogs. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates attract
fluid to the joint's cartilage system. This helps the body repair damaged
joints while keeping the cartilage destroying enzymes under control. It is also
thought this may work as a preventative measure for dogs with a high risk of
The benefits of pain reduction are two fold. First, reducing pain provides a
better quality of life for your dog. Second, increasing your dog's mobility
will help prevent the arthritis from becoming more severe. If you think your
dog has arthritis, make an appointment with your vet for a proper diagnosis and
discussion of treatment options. With proper treatment you may greatly improve
your dog's quality of life.
Susan G Wynn, DVM
who has lived with an older, stiff and disabled dog has experienced the
heartbreak of arthritis. This slowly progressive disease starts with
almost undetectable discomfort, and may progress to the point that the
animal refuses to stand, walk outside for constitutionals, or even eat.
Arthritis actually comes in different forms, with different causes, and
can attack dogs and cats regardless of breed or age.
causes may range from autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis (which is more
common in humans, by the way) to Lyme disease and primary cartilage
degeneraton in young dogs, by far the most common type is degerative
osteoarthritis. As our animals age, the bony joints begin to move less
smoothly, and bony spurs may develop in the body's attempt to stabilize
these "creaky" joints. Joint instability and bony proliferation
cause pain when the animal moves.
pet may not be able to tell you if he or she is in pain due to arthritis.
Many people expect their pets to cry, but old dogs and cats don't moan
and complain about their aching joints! You may only see slight trouble
in getting up and down, climbing stairs or jumping up on furniture or
into cars, soreness hours after exercise, or even a new grumpiness. This
is one reason that yearly exams are so important for older dogs and cats.
some forms of arthritis, such as hip dysplasia, OCD, and rheumatoid
arthritis, medical and surgical treatments work fairly well. For
degenerative osteoarthritis, there is no cure. The animal is usually
sentenced to a lifetime of anti-inflammatory agents, including aspirin,
cartrophen (Rimadyl), etodolac (Etogesic), and eventually, cortisone-like
drugs. Natural therapeutic treatments, however, can be extremely
effective in diminishing the pain, slowing progression of the disease,
and delaying or reducing the need for these drugs that have potentially
severe side effects.
first treatment is to switch all food to a very high quality, premium,
preservative-free diet, or preferably a home prepared diet (recipes can
be found in Strombeck's, Pitcairn's and Volhard's books). A majority of
painful dogs are greatly improved by diet change alone. The next step is
to start glycosaminoglycan supplements, which fortify the cartilage in
diseased joints and may help reduce pain. These supplements are available
from veterinarians under names like Cosequin, Promotion, Osteocare and
Glycoflex. Glucosamine sulfate or glucosamine hydrochloride alone may
also be effective, and these are available at most heatlh food stores.
Antioxidant vitamins will probably be helpful for this pathologic
inflammation, and homeopathic treatment is sometimes effective, as well.
pet owners wonder about herbal treatments. In my experience, popular
herbs often recommended for arthritis (such as alfalfa, devil's claw and
yucca) do not work well. On the other hand, the Ayurvedic herbs boswellia
and curcumin as well as certain Chinese herbal combinations may be fairly
effective. If herbal treatment is attempted, consult a veterinarian
experienced in Eastern herbal prescription systems.
acupuncture is very effective at reducing pain from arthritis.
Acupuncture will usually involve 4-8 treatments initially, but is usually
reduced to "tune-up" treatments over the long term. Many
animals with arthritis (or other musculoskeletal diseases) compensate for
chronic pain by "contorting" their spines, in an effort to
relieve the pain. These animals definitely benefit from occasional
is manageable by a variety of natural and conventional treatments. It is
especially important to slow progression of the disease by starting a
good diet and glycosaminoglycan supplementation early, so if you suspect
that your pet is "stiff," be sure to consult your veterinarian
as soon as possible.
Arthritis in Dogs
Systemic enzyme therapy for
Arthritis treatment in Golden
Problem getting up
after laying down in older hound
Immune mediated arthritis
Dalmatian with Arthritis
arthritis - treatment and pain control
Rimadyl, liver problems, death
Advanced Arthritis - Treatment
Arthritis in rear legs
Arthritis and Lick Granuloma
Immune mediated arthritis
Anti - arthritis medication
Chondroitin for arthritis
Chronic back problems
also see Dysplasia
also see Immune Problems
also See Lameness
also see Motion Problems
also see Neurological
also see Orthopedic Problems
also see Spinal Problems
also see Spondylosis
Medications for treatment of Arthritis
also see Drug
also see Etogestic
also see Aspirin
also see Non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
also see Rimadyl
also see Herbs,
Supplements and Nutriceuticals
also see Adaquan
present it appears that Rimadyl will cause liver damage in some dogs. There
have been some deaths in dogs with this reaction, although I think that the use
of the word "many" is misleading. The predominant breed affected by
this reaction has been the Labrador retriever but there are reports of other
breeds being affected.
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