Osteoarthritis and Joint Problems in Dogs
As many as one in five dogs will suffer joint problems over the age of 12 months. The most common problem is osteoarthritis. While it is most common in older dogs, in general it tends to affect overweight or large breed dogs.
Dogs can also develop other conditions that can be inherited or caused by injury.
Managing pain and inflammation is very important to your dog’s overall health. As in humans, the more active a life your dog leads the healthier it will be overall.
What causes joint inflammation?
In healthy joints, a layer of cartilage provides a smooth surface for the joint. The entire joint is surrounded by a capsule of fluid, known as synovial fluid. This acts as a lubricant and reduces friction on the bones.
Damage or inflammation in this area can interfere with these normal functions. This causes pain and stiffness and can ultimately damage the bone itself. Typically, if a dog suffers from osteoarthritis it will suffer in more than one joint.
Spotting the signs
Joint problems generally develop over a long time and it easy to miss early warning signs. It is worth looking out for a few factors that could indicate problems, and talking to your vet if you’re worried.
- Your dog is reluctant to walk or doesn’t want to walk as far as normal.
- Difficulty getting up – either from lying down or just in the morning
- Difficulties with stairs
- Trouble getting in or out of your car
- Limping or general stiffness when moving
If your dog shows any of this symptoms on a regular basis, it’s worth a trip to the vet. They’ll be able to detect any swellings, or run scans if they are concerned.
If your dog does have a joint condition, you will work with your vet to manage it – and key to this is reduce inflammation and maintain healthy cartilage. One important factor in this is diet.
Your dog’s diet and joint problems
Firstly, if your dog is overweight this will exacerbate joint conditions. A program of weight loss will probably be recommended, which will have an impact on the food you feed your dog.
In addition, the nutritional content of your dog’s diet can be optimised to make sure they’re getting the right vitamins and minerals to maintain muscle and preserve cartilage.