Understanding Canine Osteoarthritis

Canine osteoarthritis, also called degenerative disk disease, is a progressive disorder which causes deterioration of your dog's joint cartilage. The resulting decrease in joint lubrication makes joint surfaces which normally glide smoothly over each other rough, and this makes movement painful and difficult. It can be disabling, and lead to permanent loss of joint function

Symptoms include slow walking, clumsy gait or limping, and reluctance to climb stairs, play or jump. You may notice behavior changes. Arthritis pain often makes dogs ‘snap' or exhibit other signs of resistance when they are required to move suddenly, or when they are touched near affected joints. You may also notice a grinding sound in the joints when the dog moves, especially when rising from a resting position.

Easing Arthritis Pain

Get your dog to a vet for a diagnosis as quickly as possible, because some types of canine arthritis can be prevented or even halted by surgical repair of the joint before the disease progresses.

After a definitive diagnosis your vet will recommend a program of nutrition and controlled exercise to maintain mobility and keep the joints flexible. Drug therapy will be added to manage pain, inflammation and stiffness. Three medications are in widest clinical use for this purpose:

Rimadyl (Carprofen) is an NSAID drug praised by veterinarians because it is so effective in treating pain, but serious side effects including liver damage have been reported in connection with Rimadyl. Discuss this with your vet.

Palaprin6 is a form of aspirin made for dogs and specially buffered to prevent stomach discomfort.

Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is a Glucosamine based medication given by injection twice each week for four weeks. Adequan is effective in increasing joint lubrication.

Rest, Exercise and Diet

Make sure your dog gets plenty of rest; provide the softest and most comfortable bed you can. Establish a regular schedule of non-strenuous, low-impact exercise throughout the week. Don't concentrate most of the activity on weekends. Swimming and gentle walking are good options. Running, jumping and other strenuous exercise can increase your dog's discomfort, and retard healing processes.

The stress on arthritic joints increases with added weight; this will aggravate pain and slow the healing process. Plan a diet to keep your dog's weight as low as possible while maintaining good overall health. Plan a diet to keep your dog's weight as low as possible while maintaining good overall health.

Add N3 and N6 fatty acid supplements to your dog's diet and remember that a Glucosamine supplement is also important. Many studies have shown that Glucosamine is beneficial in treatment for canine arthritis. Ask your vet to help you select a Glucosamine supplement because the type of product you use will be most important for good results. A pharmaceutical quality glucosamine product that is delivered in liquid form with a number of other ingredients like chondroitin, boswellin, bromelain is most often recommended.