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Your Guide on How to Prevent Arthritis in Dogs

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

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Arthritis (osteoarthritis) or degenerative joint disease is a common health problem that both humans and dogs experience. Normally, it occurs due to aging; while there are other numerous factors as well. The joints near the bones have a firm tissue that has no nerves but acts as a cushion for their swift movement. It is the cartilage that ensures adequate articulation and pain-free bone movement inside your dog’s body.

In simple words, arthritis refers to the loss or severe deterioration of joint cartilage. Therefore, once it no longer serves the purpose, the bone movement and articulation become painful and lead to inflammation in dogs. This gives rise to other chronic health conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, etc. While arthritis can occur at joints anywhere in your dog’s body, the most common parts to get affected are the knee and spine joints.

Due to the painful movement, your dog may exhibit lethargy, restlessness, anxiety, pain movement, and all other similar types of signs and symptoms. What you should know is that osteoarthritis is a common health condition that affects nearly one in every four dogs.

While it may be common in dogs, it does not mean that you don’t take any precautions for your pet’s future health. It is critical that you ensure preventative measures and keep an eye out for early detection, which can pave the way to a comfortable and pain-free lifestyle for your dog. Also, make sure to consult your dog’s veterinarian for the right diagnosis, treatments, etc.

What Causes Arthritis

Your dog may develop arthritis due to idiopathic causes and factors. However, it might be a genetic predisposition that gives rise to inflammatory conditions in dogs as they age.

Despite that, there are a few other causes of concern that the veterinarians believe contribute to such health problems. Take a look at the possible factors that lead to osteoarthritis in dogs.

Dog Breed and Size

Typically, no specific breeds are exclusively prone or immune to degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis. Nevertheless, the prevalence rate of such disease might be higher in a few breeds than in others. As a 2019 study shows that arthritis most commonly occurs in Labrador Retrievers (31.25%), followed by German Shepherd (23.43%).

Besides, puppies are more susceptible to developing such conditions. The study revealed the occurrence of arthritis was high in dogs between the ages of 5 and 10. However, there is no clear distinction of the condition’s prevalence due to dog size, as it can affect puppies as well as larger dogs.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune diseases are another common reason why dogs might suffer from inflammatory conditions. Autoimmune diseases disrupt the autoimmune system, making it work against the body’s own healthy cells and tissues. This may lead to joint deterioration.

Due to such health conditions, it is highly advisable that you ensure adequate veterinarian check-ups to stay up-to-date with your dog’s health. A few conditions include systematic lupus erythematosus, thrombocytopenia, etc.

Injury

Injuries such as cranial cruciate ligament, which are tears in the ligaments near the knee, may lead to degenerative joint disease. If your dog suffers from an injury to the joints, the joint may dislocate, break, etc.

Hence, the cartilage might overexpose and suffer deterioration itself. The damage it causes may degenerate the cushioned movement resulting in pain and inflammation. This increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis, etc.

Trauma from Repetitive Movements

Repetitive motions are widely known to cause repetitive stress injuries in humans and dogs alike. Consistently performing the same exercise or physical motion can lead to the deterioration of the tendons, nerves, or muscles in the most utilized part of the body. Similarly, this can happen to dogs if they carry on sports and outdoor activities without a break.

The common symptoms of repetitive stress injuries are lethargy, pain, licking of joints (in arthritis when it affects the knees), inactiveness, restlessness, etc.

Diet and Weight

Weight plays an important role in the development of arthritis in dogs. A study suggests that being overweight (i.e., obesity) increases your dog’s risk of osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. Extra weight is responsible for the extra pressure and stress that the limb joints face when your dog moves. Therefore, it can easily lead to arthritis or hip dysplasia.

Moreover, as far as the diet is concerned, a healthy and balanced intake of proteins and carbs can help to improve the immune system and regulatory systems of your dog’s body. Thus, it lowers the chances of degenerative joint diseases.

The Importance of Arthritis Prevention

Osteoarthritis and other joint degenerative joint diseases are painful and restless conditions that affect the lifestyle of your pet friend. Despite their ubiquity, it is relatively difficult to assess and detect conditions like arthritis.

While arthritis is an incurable disease, some treatments may help slow down the progression or alleviate the symptoms.

Keep an eye on your dog’s mood swings and behavior, reduced mobility, etc., as these signs may indicate they are in pain. By seeking prompt medical care for your dog, you will not only help it live a comfortable and pain-free life, but you will also feel happy having a healthy, playful pet.

When to Start a Preventative

The best time to start preventative measures is now or as soon as you notice any symptoms, such as

lethargy, stiffness, pain, etc. Make a proper schedule for your furry friend and ensure to keep them fit and healthy. You can add nutrients, vitamins, proteins to their diet, choosing from a wide range of supplements from well-reputed brands.

The prevention measures can start at any step, such as in the form of adding supplements to their diet, exercise, veterinary visits, etc. All these will help keep your dog’s health in check and ready for prompt medical attention.

However, if your see signs that might suggest that your dog has arthritis or any other related conditions, you should seek professional medical care instantly.

How to Prevent Arthritis in Dogs

Nutritional Diet

Obesity is among the greatest risk factor for arthritis in dogs in the growing stage. The extra weight can substantially strain the knee joints and deteriorate the cartilage within. For this reason, dogs with arthritis struggle with intense pain and reduced mobility.

So, instead of letting your furry pet eat anything or everything it wants, you can try to give it a healthy, nutritious diet to ensure the provision of balanced nutrients. In fact, a nutritional diet will not only help to counter obesity but will also prevent the adverse nutrient ratio that can lead to severe deficiencies. Hence, it may help to prevent future health problems and conditions.

Regular Vet Checkups

As a rule of thumb, you can create and maintain a schedule of weekly or monthly vet appointments that will allow you to monitor your pet’s physical and mental well-being. A vet is a highly trained professional who specializes in the health and wellness of animals. Therefore, you should only consult the best veterinarian for your dog –after all, it’s a matter of your pet’s health.

After making the first few visits, your dog might start to adjust to the routine. Moreover, this will allow the veterinarian to assess the physical condition and identify any symptoms that may lead to a health problem in the future. Altogether, it can be a good strategy to provide a way for early detection and prevention of many diseases to ensure a comfortable life for your dog.

Proper Exercise

An active and playful dog may have lower chances of struggling with joint problems and conditions such as arthritis. Keep in mind that exercise can keep your pet fit and healthy, thereby preventing the risk of obesity. Further, exercises will tend to utilize the joints and bones of your dog’s body, which will enable it to become more active and energetic.

Apart from that, also be aware of over-exercising that can cause severe strains on joints and other parts of your dog’s body. It will not only bore and tire you but also make your pet dog fatigued. Remember, it is the muscle mass we talk about when discussing overweight.

Keep Them at a Healthy Weight

Obesity and unhealthy muscle mass can lead to rapid wear and tear of the joints and cartilage. Overall, it is a life-damaging factor that not only makes your pet inactive and reduces mobility but also makes it susceptible to a large number of diseases and conditions.

Supplements for Healthy Joints

Supplements range in variety from totally natural to purely synthetic. Despite the differences, supplements can work great for healthy joints. They are suitable for pets that are at a higher risk of developing arthritis as they age.

You can add some supplements to your pet’s food or give them supplements during specific times, such as while they are playing, jumping, running, etc., as a treat. Anti-inflammatory supplements may help to improve the symptoms of incurable conditions such as arthritis.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are two common supplements from a long list of joint supplements for dogs that many pet owners use.

Omega-3s

Omega 3 is a long chain of polyunsaturated fatty acids that come from essential oils (from fish). Experts and researchers suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help to decrease the inflammation of the joints and support your pet’s immune system.

In turn, this can help to prevent disease development in the near future. Omega-3 fatty acids balance out the abundance of omega-6 acids that accumulate inside your canine’s body. Omega-6 is present in nearly all processed foods.

However, omega-3 balances the high concentration of omega-6 acids in your dog, which may lead to the improvement in the inflammation of the joints. A study also confirms this by stating that “true but small relief” was applicable to canines suffering from arthritis. Omega-3 pills, supplements, and fishes (the primary source of Omega-3 fatty acid) are available in a wide variety.

CBD Oil

Are you familiar with CBD? It is a non-psychoactive compound from the marijuana plant Sativa (cannabis). Cannabidiol (CBD) is low in THC (i.e., the element that gives the “high” feeling). Moreover, in the US, the FDA regulates and permits the use of CBD Oils and other CBD products for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.

CBD Oil has shown some great results and possible potential benefits for dogs with anxiety, arthritis, and treatments for the management of many other diseases. While the research and study remain in infancy, many well-reputed and responsible brands are manufacturing CBD products with anti-inflammatory effects to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis and related conditions.

Some of the top CBD supplements that may help relieve your dog’s pain are below.

  • Calming CBD Soft Chews– contain active natural ingredients that can support the immune system and help with occasional anxiety.
  • CBD Essential Oil– contains hemp oil and chamomile to promote healthy and active moods in your dog.

Glucosamine

An amino sugar, glucosamine, acts as the building block of joint cartilage. It is a natural substance that stimulates cell growth and enables better-cushioned movement. Also, it may help in improving treatment after-effects of spinal disc injuries of hip dysplasia.

What’s more, there are Mobility Soft Chews with both glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate to promote the growth of cartilage in your pet’s joints.

Turkey Tail Mushroom

Turkey Tail Mushrooms thrive on the dead logs and carry ergosterol that may help prevent tumor progression and cancer in dogs.

This medicinal mushroom can act as a great antioxidant and improve inflammation in your pet, especially if it’s suffering from arthritis. Several studies (such as this 2012 Hong Kong research) and FDA trials confirm the potential effects of turkey tail mushroom on inflammation and long-term chronic pain.

Our Final Thoughts

Before using supplements to help relieve your pet’s pain or provide treatment in order to reduce the effect of adverse signs, make sure that you consult your dog’s veterinarian. In addition, you may choose a supplement from a well-established and reputed business, but again, the vet’s advice might make a difference.

It is your responsibility as a pet owner to look after the health of your furry family member and work to decrease any pain or injury in the form of the best treatments.

Your dog’s genes don’t necessarily mean he’s destined to develop arthritis. A good preventative care plan initiated as early as possible can go a long way in keeping your dog active and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes dog arthritis?

Obesity, physical inactivity, injuries, and certain autoimmune disorders might cause dog arthritis.

How do I keep my dogs’ joints healthy?

Regular exercise and the provision of a nutritional diet may help in keeping your dog’s joints healthy.

How can arthritis be prevented?

Studies show that a lot of preventative measures can help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis in the long term. However, completely preventing it might not be possible.

What home remedy can I give my dog for arthritis?

You can use Omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy natural supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin.