Arthritis is a disease which affects many dogs and unfortunately, many pet owners are not as informed on this topic as they should be.  Being in constant pain can get the best of anyone, and this holds true for our canine companions. Arthritis left untreated in a dog means nothing but severe, excruciating pain. The more pet parents know about arthritis, the greater chance they have to fight it and give their pup a better quality of life.

So, what are you to do once you find out your dog has arthritis? Let’s highlight some important information about dog arthritis and then discuss things you should do once your pet is diagnosed so that you can help them live as comfortably and pain-free as possible!

How common is arthritis in dogs?

Sadly, arthritis in dogs is very common. According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 20% of all adult dogs have arthritis, or about 1 in 5. If, however, your dog is more than 7 years of age, there’s a 65% chance he’s suffering from the disease, and some studies show up to 82% of older dogs suffer from joint pain. In other words, more than half of all older dogs have arthritis!

What is canine arthritis?

Arthritis simply means ‘inflammation of the joints’. There are two different types of arthritis in dogs: degenerative joint disease (or osteoarthritis) or inflammatory joint disease. Osteoarthritis usually occurs due to the gradual loss of cartilage which provides a cushion to the bones. But as the cartilage wears away, the bones rub against one another, which causes your dog pain.

How are dogs diagnosed with arthritis?

First, it’s up to you to look out for the signs. If your dog exhibits any of the signs below, he or she may be suffering.

  • Avoids exercise like running or is reluctant to go up stairs
  • Doesn’t play as much as he used to
  • Is lethargic, tires easily, and sleeps more
  • Has problems jumping
  • Has gained weight or experienced changes in appetite
  • Gets irritated when petted or touched
  • Exhibits changes in personality, like depression or grouchiness
  • Has accidents in the house

If you notice any of these behaviors happening, it is crucial that you take your dog to the veterinarian for a thorough examination. X-rays are typically the best way to diagnose arthritis. Your vet may ask you questions about their recent behavior, and/or may manipulate his or her joints to listen and feel for any crackling or grating.

What can you do to help your dog?

Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for arthritis but there are a number of effective treatments. Your vet can determine what treatment will be best for your pet. Arthritis is commonly worse in overweight dogs, so the most important therapy is the combination of weight control and exercise management. This will help to minimize the load on the joints, and maximize the range of movement and fitness of the muscles around those joints.

A change in diet may also help (for an example, adding Omega 3 fatty acids), or herbal remedies. There are many medications your vet might suggest, including pain relievers, but be aware that these frequently have undesirable side effects. Additionally, cutting-edge treatments such as stem cell therapy, hydrotherapy treadmill, acupuncture, and Low-level laser therapy have been proven to ease the symptoms of arthritis and help dogs live a full, active life.

Although medications and these new innovative treatments can help manage your pet’s pain significantly; it can also be expensive and inconvenient to maintain regularly with weekly visits to the clinic.  The Dog Med Laser is a safe, easy, and affordable low-level laser therapy option that can be done right in the comfort of your home. Giving your dog DML laser treatments twice a day is ideal to achieve optimal results and a pain-free pup!

Lastly, be sure to make your home as safe and comfortable as possible for your arthritic canine. Provide a soft padded bed, raise food and water dishes, avoid non-skid floors, and provide a ramp or stool/step for getting onto higher surfaces (like a bed, couch or car).

There may not be a cure for canine arthritis, but your dog can certainly continue to live a happy and healthy life if you tackle the problem early on and help take the necessary steps to minimize their pain!