Spinal Arthritis in Dogs

Spinal arthritis in dogs is similar in many ways to other types of arthritis. The symptoms and treatment methods are much the same. This condition typically arises in older dogs, although it can strike at any time. In order to best help your dog to live a continued healthy and happy lifestyle, you'll need to recognize the symptoms of spinal arthritis as quickly as possible and then take him in to a veterinarian promptly for treatment and diagnosis. Read on for a brief overview of spinal arthritis in dogs.

Spinal Arthritis Overview

Spinal arthritis is caused by a continued degeneration of the joint and connective tissue in the spine of your pet. This occurs gradually over time and tends to become worse as your pet gets old. There are a number of different potential causes for spinal arthritis in dogs. One of the primary causes seems to be genetically linked, and you can therefore do nothing to help prevent your pet's arthritis in this way. Another major cause appears to be certain types of activity, particularly during early developmental stages. If your pet suffers from spinal damage or particular injuries while his bones are still growing, he may be at much greater risk of developing spinal arthritis later on in life. For this reason, it's important that you be very careful with him while he's growing to avoid any of these potential risks.

Spinal arthritis is not fatal in and of itself. It can, however, lead to a number of potential problems for your pet. Without adequate treatment, he can become listless and lethargic, and he may even refuse to eat or drink water.

Spinal Arthritis Symptoms

The following are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis:

  • Difficulty moving up or down stairs or in lying down or getting up
  • Cries of pain at certain types of movement
  • Altered gait or standing positions
  • Slow response time
  • General lethargy and weakness
  • Stiffness in the morning or when it's cold outside
  • Pain at the touch

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet in for a veterinary examination as quickly as you can.

Spinal Arthritis Diagnosis and Treatment

Your vet will use a number of different methods to try to diagnose your dog's spinal arthritis. He may take a small biopsy of bone tissue in order to measure it in the lab. He may also look at your pet's physical symptoms for signs of damage.

After determining that your pet has spinal arthritis, there are a number of different potential treatment options that you have. Most vets will recommend giving dogs with this type of arthritis a set of nutritional supplements to help stimulate bone growth and ligament growth as well. You may also find that changing your pet's diet will help him to slow the progression of the decline of his joints and bones. Additionally, modifying your pet's exercise routine and certain other lifestyle traits can help to change his outlook too.