Causes of Arthritis in Dogs

The causes of arthritis are mainly age and injury. Arthritis has a high incidence rate in dogs, just as in humans. 1 out of 5 dogs suffers from arthritis. Dogs of any age can develop arthritis, so, if you spot any of the symptoms of arthritis in your dog, get a check-up and have him start a treatment as soon as possible.

Causes of Arthritis in Dogs

The bones in every joint are covered with smooth cartilage which makes the movement of the joints easier, avoiding the friction of the bones against each other. When this smooth cartilage of the joint is damaged, the joint tissue becomes irritated, releasing harmful substances that cause additional damage.

Cartilage damage is not painful in itself, as only the joint capsules, ligaments and supportive tissues have nerve cells, so the dog will not feel any pain until the condition is quite advanced.

The most common causes of arthritis include:

  • Malformation of the bones can cause the joints to damage the cartilage. These malformations are congenital.
  • Trauma or infection of joints.
  • Tearing of ligaments or joints
  • Poor diet
  • The puppy's being overweight during growth
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Aging

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis cannot be cured, but the dog's condition can be improved and the degeneration can be slowed down with treatment. Whenever you notice one or more of the symptoms below, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian:

  • The dog avoids jumping, running or climbing stairs
  • Behavior changes
  • Standing or sitting are more difficult for the dog
  • The dog seems to favor a limb when walking
  • Stiff or sore joints
  • Lameness
  • When the dog moves you can hear a crackling sound

Diagnosis of Arthritis in Dogs

To diagnose arthritis in your dog, your veterinarian will have to go through the dog's medical history and examine him:

  • Orthopedic examination: the veterinarian will palpate the dog's joints to check for swellings and see whether the dog is in any pain
  • X-rays can show whether there is degeneration of the cartilages and help discover any other underlying causes
  • Force-plate test consists of measuring whether the dog is placing the same weight on all limbs.
  • Joint fluid analysis is sometimes needed to better differentiate between the types of arthritic conditions such as bacterial arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment of Arthritis in Dogs

Weight reduction is often one of the first steps in treating arthritis. Decreasing the weight placed on the joints will relieve the pain.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are used and cortisone can also be prescribed, although long-term use is not advisable due to side-effects.

If the arthritis is caused by traumatic causes, surgical treatment can significantly slow down the degenerative process.

In some cases, arthroplasty (replacement of the joint) can restore the dog's ability to move.