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Diagnosing Arthritis in Dogs

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You might be surprised to find out that arthritis in dogs is very common and affects one out of every five adult dogs in the United States. It is one of the most common causes of chronic pain treated by veterinarians. There are some signs to watch for that can alert pet owners to the problem.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Many of the changes signaling arthritis are subtle, so be sure to pay attention to even small changes in behavior or habits. Some common signs include a slight limp or favoring a limb along with trouble in certain positions like sitting or standing. You may notice your dog cannot climb stairs as he once did, or has difficulty jumping up onto the chair, bed or couch that used to be his favorite sleeping place (even though you discourage it!).

Your once playful pet may not want to run as much or as often as he once did. Arthritis in dogs causes pain during simple activities such as playing, running and even walking. If your dog seems disinterested in the walks he used to love taking with you or doesn’t want to chase his favorite tennis ball, you should consider taking him to the veterinarian just to be safe.

Many times a change in attitude will go along with arthritis in dogs, as they are dealing with pain day in and day out. In addition to lack of interest in exercise, he may begin to gain weight as his activity level lessens, and he may seem less alert than he used to be.

Experts suggest letting symptoms such as these go on for no more than two weeks before having your pet seen at the veterinary clinic. If you decide a check is necessary, the clinic will do a thorough physical exam and may do some x-rays of the affected area.

Treatment of Arthritis in Dogs

The very best thing to do if your dog is diagnosed with arthritis is to have it treated as soon as you possibly can. Suggestions and therapies may include a diet and nutrition plan for dogs who have gained too much weight.

Drug treatment is also very helpful, especially the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) type drugs. Many times your vet will use NSAIDS along with a glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate or omega fatty acids supplement, much like the treatment for osteoarthritis in humans.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be toxic to your dog, so do not try to give him your over the counter pain reliever without the consent of your veterinarian.

Dosages can vary widely depending on the animal and the severity of the condition, so follow your vet’s advice carefully.

Arthritis and Lifestyle

As with humans, a healthy lifestyle can definitely minimize the damage and effects of the disease. Proper nutrition, weight maintenance, exercise and following the doctor’s medication and treatment schedule are all key parts of helping your dog live a better life.

Arthritis in dogs does not always mean a sedentary lifestyle has to result; stay as active as you possibly can with your pet and you will both be healthier and happier.

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