Canine degenerative joint disease, more commonly known as canine osteoarthritis, occurs when the cartilage surrounding dog joints begins to deteriorate. This is a progressive disease that most commonly affects pets in their senior years. However, depending on the contributing factors, joint disease in dogs can occur in younger animals as well.
Common Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs
The symptoms your pet will experience if it has osteoarthritis will vary depending on which dog joints are affected, your pet’s age and how far the disease has progressed. Additionally, some dogs have higher thresholds to pain, and some react to pain differently than others. Nevertheless, there are several common signs of joint disease in dogs, and they are listed below.
- Decreased Activity Level
- Stiff Gait that Worsens with Exercise
- Occasional Lameness
- Reluctance to Run, Play and/or Climb Stairs
- Swelling of Dog Joints
- Difficulty Standing from a Resting Position
- Walking Much Slower than Normal
- Loss of Appetite
Causes of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs
In most cases, joint disease in dogs is caused by simple aging. Over time, normal wear and tear can damage the cartilage between joints resulting in osteoarthritis. However, there are other conditions that can cause degenerative joint disease, and you can find them listed here:
- Abnormal Wear and Tear on Joints
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Dislocation of Kneecaps or Shoulders
- Osteochondritis Dissecans
Typical Treatments for Joint Disease in Dogs
If your dog is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, your vet will most like prescribe long-term anti-inflammatory medication to help alleviate joint pain and swelling. Glucosamine and a diet high in omega fatty acids may be recommended as well. Things you can do at home include provide your pet with a comfortable bed, keep your pet warm, massage affected joints, watch your pet’s weight and apply a heating pad to aching joints.
While surgery may help slow down the progression of osteoarthritis, it will not stop it completely. When surgery is chosen, the exact procedure necessary will depend on your pet’s unique circumstances. However, some common joint surgeries include joint removal or replacement, reconstructive procedures, and surgical removal of bone or cartilage fragments.
Breeds Commonly Affected By Osteoarthritis
While any breed of dog can develop degenerative joint disease, there are some breeds that are more prone to the condition than others. Typically, these are larger dogs that place a lot of pressure on their joints, pets that are prone to obesity and dogs that are either inactive or overly active.
- Saint Bernards
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Great Danes
Canine osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease in dogs that can affect one or more joints. When this occurs, it can be extremely painful for your pet. However, with the proper home care and such veterinary treatments as anti-inflammatory drugs, Glucosamine and a special diet, you can help your pet feel more comfortable.