As dogs start to get older many of them, like us, start to struggle with joint pain as a result of arthritis. During January we will be running an “Arthritis Awareness” month, so we have decided to discuss some management options available to keep your pet more comfortable.
What is arthritis?
Essentially, it is inflammation of the joint. Joint surfaces are normally lined with a layer of cartilage, and lubricated, allowing smooth movement. However, sometimes this protective layer can become worn down or damaged- leading to the surface of the bone itself rubbing together. This in turn leads to an increase in bone growth and therefore an uneven surface to the joint. This causes inflammation which reduces movement and causes pain. The photos here show a healthy hip joint (A), and an arthritic hip joint (B).
Who is at risk?
Arthritis is quite common in older dogs, but it can occur at any age. The risk of arthritis is also increased under the following circumstances:
- History of orthopaedic surgery or injury. i.e cruciate ligmant damage
- Congenital joint problems such as elbow or hip dysplasia
What would I notice?
- Stiffness, particularly on rising and may ease off as they move around
- Less keen for walks
- May lick the affected joint
What are treatment options?
We are very keen on a multi-modal approach to the management of arthritis. This means a combination of several strategies ( seen below) can combine well to improve your pets’ quality of life.
- Weight management
A larger load on your pet’s joints will speed joint degeneration and cause more discomfort than a dog of a suitable weight.
- Pain Relief
Non steroidal anti Inflammatory drugs reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the condition, although should be used with caution as long term use can damage the kidneys. Therefore a multi modal approach can reduce the required dosage of these drugs.
- Dietary supplements
There are various supplements available to improve joint health.
- Laser therapy
Regular sessions can really help to decrease the inflammation associated with arthritis, and most dogs seem to really enjoy it!
- Regenerative techniques
Over the last 2 and a half years we have been researching the use of regenerative medicine techniques, using the patients’ own cells to stimulate healing within the joint.
- Joint injections
Alternatively steroids can also be injected directly into the joint to reduce the inflammation.
- Structured exercise programs
We can also offer an exercise program to improve your dog’s mobility.