Canine Osteoarthritis Hip Treatment

As your dog ages, he is more susceptible to osteoarthritis in hip, elbow, lower back, knees and wrist joints. There is no cure for this natural degeneration, but there are several management options to ease your dog's pain.

About Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis refers to a chronic, degenerative joint disease, which causes the deterioration of the joint connective tissue that prevents the bones from rubbing against one another, which can be painful.

Causes include:

  • aging
  • diseases such hip dysplasia
  • trauma
  • exercise
  • obesity

Osteoarthritis often goes unnoticed because the symptoms appear as if your dog is just slowing down. However, if you notice your dog has increased stiffness, limping, lethargy, difficulty getting up, pain or reluctance to run or jump, he may have osteoarthritis.

Though osteoarthritis can form in any of your dog's joints, hip osteoarthritis is the most common and easily noticed. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are several things you can try to help your dog.

Proper Exercise to Prevent Pain and Injury

It's important to keep your dog's weight down once he starts showing signs of osteoarthritis. If your dog is overweight, cut back his food and put him on a reasonable exercise program.

However, finding appropriate exercises can be difficult since your dog is in increased pain. Running on pavement and activities that require jumping are no longer appropriate for your dog. Instead, take him on walks on soft surfaces or on a treadmill or take him swimming, which is strenuous but easy on joints.

Daily, consistent exercise is crucial. You can injure your dog by taking a couple of days off and then making up for it with a lot of exercise on the weekends. Your dog needs more shorter exercise sessions rather than long ones that are inconsistent.

Medication to Reduce Pain from Arthritis

In severe cases, there are several medications available that can reduce pain for your dog. However, many of these medications have side effects such as liver and kidney damage associated with long-term use, so consult your veterinarian about a reasonable plan for medicating.

Anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids can reduce pain in the short term by reducing the inflammation in the joint tissue. This can be used for severe pain but won't be effective during the long-term.

For long-term treatment, veterinarians will sometimes recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Rimadyl and Metacam. When used during a week or two-week period, this can be effective in reducing the pain while a proper exercise and diet plan is established or while waiting for supplements to take effect. However, long-term use can cause medical problems.

Supplements to Reduce Dog Pain

Many owners rely on supplements to reduce their dog's pain because they don't have side effects and can still be very effective. The most common of these is glucosamine, which is often paired with chondroitin to reduce inflammation and repair connective tissue in your dog's joints.

Glucosamine is a major sugar that forms and maintains joint cartilage, and chondroitin inhibits enzymes that can damage the joint tissues. Because these components are found naturally in healthy joints, many researchers believe that use of these supplements can help regenerate connective tissue.

However, supplements aren't always effective, especially with severe damage, and it may take months before you begin to see improvements.

The treatment you undergo will depend on your dog, the severity of the osteoarthritis and your preference in treatment methods, but there are plenty of options available to reduce your dog's pain.