It isn’t just you and I who get creaky and arthritic as we age. Dogs do, too. In fact, canine arthritis is a significant problem in elderly dogs, and there are things you can do to help your dog and improve the quality of his life.
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Causes of arthritis in dogs
As joints age, they are subject to a certain amount of wear and tear. The hip joint takes quite a pounding in both dogs and men, at the upper end of the body’s major muscle ‘power house’ for movement. This wear and tear in the joint cause the pain and inflammation that we call arthritis.
While a certain amount of wear and tear occurs, severe arthritis is not inevitable. And there are steps you can take to help prevent your dog from getting arthritic and stiff in his old age.
Preventing arthritis through weight control
Body weight is a massive factor in arthritis. Slim dogs are less likely to get arthritis than fat ones. This is something you can actively help with. Keep your dog as small as possible, and don’t be tempted to give in to those puppy dog eyes. Your dog may well still be hungry, but that does not necessarily mean he needs to eat. Try to distract him with some activity and ignore that he is following you around with his dinner bowl in his mouth. He’ll thank you for it later when he is still zipping about at fourteen instead of crying in pain when he gets up in the morning.
Glucosamine and Arthritis
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that was thought to promote the repair of joint cartilage. Some studies in people have produced conflicting results. Still, the consensus in the veterinary literature is that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate together will help reduce pain and swelling and may help repair damaged cartilage. You can order dog glucosamine online and buy it in pet shops (don’t use the human variety). Ask your vet if you are unsure whether this would suit your dog.
These are drugs used to treat the inflammation and pain of arthritis in people and animals. But you mustn’t give your dog NSAIDs intended for people. Ibuprophen, for example, is a popular NSAID for treating humans and is toxic to dogs!
Conditions like Hip dysplasia, with an existing hip joint deformity, puts the dog at increased risk of arthritis. If your dog has hip dysplasia, consult your vet on how to care for his hips before he gets old and creaky.
If you suspect your older dog is developing arthritis, have him checked by the vet. Some other diseases and injuries can cause lameness, stiffness, and pain, and it may be that your dog simply has minor damage that needs a little rest. Your vet can also prescribe effective painkillers to keep your old friend happy and active for as long as possible.
And don’t forget, keep him slim; it is the most effective way to avoid arthritis in your dog.