“80% of dogs over 8 have arthritis but not nearly enough of these dogs are receiving treatment for this painful, progressive and debilitating condition”…
Taken from CAM (Canine Arthritis Management) Facebook page, this statistic is really quite startling.
Following a vet visit with Dita I wanted to share some information and my musings about Canine Arthritis.
Dita is now 11 1/2 and she’s in pretty good shape. We work hard to keep her weight down. She may not walk any doggy catwalks but she has a nice waist and is in her recommended weight range. She eats an excellent brand of food as financially we prioritise this. It’s such an important factor in keeping her healthy. Cheap food is a false economy as it can result in increased vet visits which let’s face it are not cheap! She also gets regular exercise and we can tailor this to suit her.
Over the past year or so however I have noticed increased signs of aging; her hindquarters have developed a slight slope, she has tremors in her legs during periods of standing, she takes longer to catch up on a walk and she is sleeping more. All fairly normal and all unfortunately inevitable, however if she has a condition such as arthritis, then I want to start helping her now.
Suffering without intervention should not be inevitable and my duty of care is to make sure I minimise any pain or discomfort she may experience.
The CAM website is a fantastic resource for anyone who suspects their dog has arthritis, who knows their dog has it or who simply wants to plan for the future.
They cover signs of arthritis, diagnosis, causes and management of the disease.
They point to the following key factors to address in controlling arthritis:
1. Weight management, excess weight bears down on a dogs joints making the pain worse.
2. Managing a dog’s environment by placing steps/ramps beside the car, sofa, bed etc to stop unnecessary jumping which impacts the joints. Adding mats to slippery floors so the dog has more traction and doesn’t slip and slide.
3. Modifying exercise- our vet told us consistency was key. No ‘weekend warrior’ walks in her words. Where for one day on the weekend a dog is out 3 times as long as normal. I also make sure Dita wears an Equafleece on really cold days to help keep her joints warm. Anyone I know who has arthritis says they suffer more in the cold.
4. Good nutrition. Giving the dog the best chance of healthy joints. Check out www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk to research good brands.
5. Complementary therapies – to help relieve pain. Our vet recommended laser therapy, acupuncture and massage. We are so lucky nowadays to have these options for our dogs.
6. Anti-inflammatory medication. They’ll offer the dog relief from unnecessary pain and help them carry out their natural behaviours.
What to do if you suspect your dog has arthritis? – Visit your vet for a chat. Ours offered Dita a 2 week course of anti-inflammatory medication to see if there was a difference in her mobility. The next step would be either an X-Ray to confirm arthritis or to continue a course of anti-inflammatory medication indefinitely. She’d need her bloods taken before this could be prescribed long term.
Dogs show very subtle signs of pain, once they are limping, yelping etc then it’s become really serious. We need to diagnose and treat any ailments before this stage. Look for changes in posture, activity levels and even behaviour. Imagine how grumpy you’d get if you were stiff and sore all the time. If your usually jovial dog has become snappy, irritable, guards their space and doesn’t like moving then consider a vet check asap!