Can Dogs Get Arthritis?

Did you know that dogs and cats can also develop arthritis in their joints?  Osteoarthritis is the most common type of disease in our pets and is frequently found in the hips, knees, shoulders, elbow and in the bones of the spine. Some arthritis can develop from a ligament rupture such as a torn cruciate in the knee or a knee cap that slips from the groove of the tibia. Hip dysplasia in dogs is the most common cause of arthritis of the hips. Early surgical correction of the knee and hips can help stave off the arthritis. Obesity, and congenital conditions can also contribute to arthritis formation. Old, large breed dogs, such as Labradors, can also get arthritis in their spine.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a malfunction of the dog’s immune system. The antibodies that normally protect the dog from foreign invaders incorrectly attacks the joints of the dog causing severe cartilage and bone deterioration. Blood tests can help identify rheumatoid arthritis. Auto-immune arthritis is treated with corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation.

Arthritis can also be caused by infections, either bacterial, fungus or viral. Leptospirosis and Lyme disease are common invaders that can cause arthritis. Septic arthritis is ususually treated with antibiotics.

Some dogs may not exhibit symptoms of arthritis until the disease is well advanced. Lameness, limping, difficulty in getting up, reluctance to jump or resisting walking can be signs of developing arthritis. Sometimes a loss of appetite, lethargy or other signs may also develop.

A trip to your veterinarian for an exam, blood tests and radiographs (x-rays) can help identify the problem. Surgical intervention can help with some cases of arthritis, especially of the knee, and hip. Arthroscopic surgeries and joint replacements are now common place at larger referral hospitals or Veterinary Universities. Rehabilitation with water treadmills are now available for our pets, too.

Some arthritis can be managed with anti-inflammatories, such as Rimadyl or other NSAIDS. Diagnostic blood work is recommended to monitor for possible affects on the internal organs.

Glucosamine and chondroitin may also be effective with arthritis by providing the basic components cartilage needs to repair itself. These supplements can be given as a chewy treat¬† (Joint support) or can be in prescription diets such as Hill’s j/d diet.

Your veterinarian can help advise you in a treatment plan to alleviate the pain in your pet and have a better quality of life.

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