Osteoarthritis In Dogs – Home Care For K9 Osteoarthritis

Medical review by K9 Healthcare Council of America (K9HCA). Intended for educational purposes only. Always seek medical advice from your veterinarian.

Osteoarthritis In Dogs

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common health conditions that afflict our canine companions and statistically one of the most common orthopedic problems seen in dogs by veterinarians worldwide.

The exact prevalence of Osteoarthritis in dogs has not been established; but most animal care experts indicate approximately one-quarter (20-25%) of the canine population have the disease.

Osteoarthritis is also the #1 cause of lameness in canines today!

Although Osteoarthritis (OA) is more prevalent in senior dogs, large breeds, athletic and working dogs, dogs of all ages can develop OA. Even puppies that have suffered from elbow or hip dysplasia will tend to develop OA at a younger age.

Unfortunately, OA is often overlooked in younger dogs with the assumption that Osteoarthritis is an “old age” problem.

What Is Osteoarthritis in Dogs?

Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative disease that worsens over time. Specifically, OA refers to the gradual and permanent deterioration of the smooth cartilage surface of the joints.

Also referred to as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease characterized by the progressively worsening of inflammation of the joint, deterioration and loss of joint cartilage, thickening of the joint capsule and new bone formation around the joint.

The loss of joint cartilage results in less smooth movement of the bones, inflammation, thickening and stiffening of the joint, and often new bone formation around the joint (osteophytosis).

All of which ultimately results in increasing pain, joint stiffness and eventually total limb dysfunction that hinders your dog’s normal physical activity.

Holistic Dog Care By K9 Medibles
Older dogs, large breeds, athletic and working dogs are at highest risk of developing osteoarthritis, as well as dogs that have hip or elbow dysplasia.

In a healthy K9 joint, cartilage acts as a cushion to allow the joint to move smoothly through its full range of motion. But in cases of osteoarthritis, this cartilage cushion begins to break down because of factors such as age, injury, repetitive stress, or disease.

The loss of this protective cushion results in pain, inflammation, decreased range of motion, and the development of bone spurs (osteophytes).

While any joint in the body can develop osteoarthritis for dogs, the condition most commonly affects a dog’s limbs and lower spine.

Incidence Of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Canine osteoarthritis (OA) is primarily a developmental disease, but more than 50% of cases are not diagnosed until dogs are between 8 and 13 years of age.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) estimates the prevalence of hip dysplasia at 21% of the top 50 breeds, while elbow dysplasia is 16% of these susceptible dog breeds. OA is also prevalent in shoulder joints, but less is known about its development in these physical areas.

What Causes Osteoarthritis in Dogs?

The majority of OA cases in dogs occur secondarily to ‘developmental orthopedic disease’, such as cranial-ligament-disease, hip and elbow dysplasia or patella (kneecap) dislocation.

The mechanism most often responsible for canine OA appears to be joint subluxation. The OA present in hip dysplasia, for instance, results from the subluxation of the femoral head, while osteoarthritis associated with elbow dysplasia results from humero-ulnar or radio-ulnar joint subluxation.

A dog’s general joint degeneration can also be caused by trauma, infection, the body’s own immune system, or malformation during development. This leads to inflammation of the joint membrane, continued cartilage destruction, inflammation, and long-term abnormal joint function.

The normal joint cartilage in freely moving healthy joints of younger dogs may degenerate over time–leading to loss or thinning of cartilage and a buildup of fluid within the joint and the formation of bony outgrowths around the joint causing immense pain and immobility.

Over time, the worsening condition causes long term degeneration of joints and may involve other tissues including cartilage (the joint surface), bone under the cartilage, joint capsule, ligaments and tendons.

Despite the dog owning public’s perception, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that wear ‘n tear of exercise causes osteoarthritis in dogs.

Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis can be difficult to detect in its early stages, and often the symptoms do not become apparent until the affected joint is badly damaged.

Because some dogs can be very emotionally withdrawn, they can hide their pain until it becomes severely noticeable.

treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs
Create a treatment plan for OA that will preserve your dog’s Quality Of Life.

Many dogs live with the disease getting progressively worse for years before signs are detected. Thus, it is important to monitor middle-aged to senior dogs and those predisposed to osteoarthritis symptoms for early signs of joint disease.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Oftentimes, the symptoms of OA are non-specific changes in activity and include:

  • Reluctance to run, jump or play
  • Lethargy or decrease in overall activity
  • Stiffness, lameness or difficulty getting up
  • Difficulty standing, especially after sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Inability to jump or resistant to walking stairs
  • Changes in gait (“bunny hopping”)
  • Whimpering in pain (stationary or during movement)
  • Loss of muscle mass over hips and joints
  • Irritability & behavioral changes such as aggression or signs of discomfort
  • Difficulty posturing to urinate or defecate or having accidents in the house.
what is osteoarthritis in dogs?
Many of the early symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs are subtle and gradual behavioral changes, such as an inability or desire to climb stairs.

Treating Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Unfortunately, Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and there is no known cure. However, as pet owners, there is much that can be done to slow the progression of the disease, ease the pain, and improve your dog’s Quality of Life.

Treating Osteoarthritis usually involves a combination of different approaches, both medical and surgical, but preventing the development of osteoarthritis through diet, exercise, and the use of protective joint supplements is the best way to keep your dog’s joints healthy.

Treatment For Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Once osteoarthritis develops, treatment is typically focused on controlling pain, decreasing inflammation, improving Quality of Life, and slowing the development of the disease.

There is no single approach to treatment that is successful in every case, and most dogs need a multi-modal approach that includes medical and non-medical treatment options.

Six Non-medical Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in Dogs:

1. Weight Control – Weight control is by far the most critical aspect of OA management. Weight loss in obese dogs can improve his mobility and help minimize further joint damage. Fat produces inflammatory mediators that perpetuate the inflammation process, and any increased body weight can put additional force on the joints, causing more pronounced OA changes that can ultimately lead to more pain and decreased mobility.

Pets that are an ideal weight have fewer painful episodes and slower progression of osteoarthritis than overweight animals. In an ideal body weight, you should be able to: (1) feel your dog’s ribs but not see them; (2) see an hour-glass figure when viewed from above; (3) see a tucked-up belly when viewed from the side.

2. Pain Relief – Osteoarthritis can be very painful, so in some animals’ long-term medication is needed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS (e.g., carprofen, meloxicam, deracoxib, ketoprofen, etc.) are the most commonly used medication for OA pain control. In patients that cannot tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, adjunctive pain medications (amantadine, gabapentin, tramadol, codeine, corticosteroids, acetaminophen) can be considered, although there is an overall lack of studies supporting their efficacy for OA pain management.

Although long term medication can have a risk of side effects (especially for geriatric dogs) this risk must be balanced against pain from the osteoarthritis if the medication is not given.

However, long-term use of these drugs in dogs can sometimes cause gastrointestinal problems such as loss of appetite, vomiting, and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Corticosteroids also suppress inflammation, but they are usually given only for a short period in order to avoid adverse effects of continued use. Joint fluid modifiers or other types of pain relievers can also be used. Your veterinarian may prescribe appropriate medication based on your dog’s signs, age, and overall health.

3. Physical Therapy – Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy are important in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Swimming is an ideal non-weight bearing exercise; swimming also helps to maintain muscle mass. Animal rehabilitation such as range of motion exercises, therapeutic exercises, and aqua therapy (underwater treadmill) help to improve joint mobility, increase muscle mass, and improve exercise endurance. Other recommended therapies may include ultrasound therapy, electric stimulation, massage, application of cold and heat to help relieve pain in the joints. These therapies need to be discussed carefully with your Vet initially, to avoid making painful joints worse.

4. LASER Therapy – Another rehabilitation modality commonly recommended, although there is an overall lack of studies to prove its benefit.

5. Exercise / Activity Modification – High-impact activities such as running or jumping should be limited as they can cause more inflammation and pain. These activities should be replaced with more controlled activity like leash walks. Low impact consistent exercise is good to help build the muscles around the joints and will eventually promote joint stability.

osteoarthritis in dogs treatment
By treating canine pain, your dog’s Quality of Life can be restored, and you can enjoy more playful interactions with your best friend again.

By treating canine pain, your dog’s Quality of Life can be restored, and you can enjoy more playful interactions with your best friend again.

There is no golden rule as to how much exercise an animal with osteoarthritis can have, as all patients are different; instead, exercise levels need to be tailored to the individual animal.

6. Joint SupplementsNatural supplements have been shown to ease osteoarthritis symptoms in dogs. The exact mechanism of how joint supplements may help alleviate OA pain is not well understood.

Supplements containing Chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, green lipped mussel extract and omega-3-fatty-acid are the most commonly recommended joint supplements. While the effects of joint supplements may not be dramatic, small improvements in your dog’s mobility may be seen without negative adverse effects.

At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping your dog comfortable so they can stay active, maximize range of motion, and maintain lean body weight.

Dog Osteoarthritis Home Care

Natural Pain Relief for Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Although anti-inflammatory and pain medications are often prescribed to manage day-to-day discomfort in dogs with osteoarthritis, there is a wonderful natural treatment remedy that can reduce or eliminate the need for painkillers for some animals.

Many pet parents are beginning to give CBD containing pet products to their companion animals in hopes that they provide therapeutic pain relief for their dogs with osteoarthritis.

Research shows that CBD (Cannabidiol) from natural hemp plant can provide therapeutic pain relief & reduce inflammation in dogs without the negative side effects of NSAID medications by affecting endocannabinoid receptor activity in your dog’s body.

Studies show that even low doses of CBD is effective in treating inflammation–the root cause of many chronic and debilitating conditions that plague our special aging canine companions.

One university based veterinary study reviewed the safety and clinical efficacy of Cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment Osteoarthritic dogs showed a significant reduction in pain and increase in activity levels in dogs given daily CBD supplementation.

CBD oil for dogs
Canine Support Formula is the most clinically effective, full spectrum hemp oil to relieve joint pain in dogs.

Despite the fact that little is known about the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids in pets, current data suggests a compelling rationale for the therapeutic potential of CBD in treating chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders along with other canine medical conditions.

Not surprising, a large percentage of pet owners indicate they effectively treat their dog’s arthritis and hip dysplasia pain using CBD with no serious adverse effects.

Studies show that even low doses of CBD is effective in treating inflammation–the root cause of many chronic and debilitating conditions that plague our special aging canine companions.

CBD Oil for Dogs with Osteoarthritis – Does It Really Work?

Hemp CBD oil is fast becoming the natural choice for dog owners looking to help their pet with pain and limited mobility issues.

Meta-data analysis of over 25 studies suggest that cannabinoid-based pharmacotherapies may serve as effective adjunctive pain therapy option and a potent replacement alternative for prescription pain medications.

Whether your dog suffers the occasional pain from muscle aches due to old-age or overuse injuries or is stricken with the crippling pain of osteoarthritis, giving them full spectrum hemp CBD oil can reduce the severity of pain without the need for harmful and addictive painkillers.

Although every dog is different and they will each have their own unique reaction, for the majority of dogs, CBD oil can make your dog more comfortable in their home environment.

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