Written by Rachel Petty of Te Puna Vets

As we enter the winter months this year, many of our dogs will start to feel worsening of their aches and pains due to arthritis.

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in dogs. It is a disease more likely to occur in older dogs, however, young and middle age dogs can be affected. Arthritis is the degeneration of the normal structure within a joint, which leads to pain, reduced use, muscle weakness, and eventually a significantly reduced quality of life.

Signs of arthritis to look out for in your dog include; reduced energy levels, change in posture (as they run, walk or lie down), difficulty jumping up or down, reduced enthusiasm to go for a walk or play, stiff movement, and reduced normal habits like stretching. These are not specific to arthritis and can be caused by other diseases, therefore if your dog is showing any of these signs it is important to get your dog examined by a veterinarian.

Once arthritis is confirmed as the cause, a management plan will need to be developed by you and your veterinarian. Arthritis is not able to be cured. The aim of management is to help dogs maintain a full and active life by minimising pain and maximising mobility.

Depending on the severity of arthritis your dog may be prescribed a dog safe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, Pentosan injection series, prescription joint diet, and/or omega 3 oils. In addition, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and physiotherapy are all good complementary therapies that may aid in arthritis management. For dogs that are overweight, weight control will be high on the management plan, as excess weight causes a large increased pressure on arthritic joints and contributes to pain.

Changes around the home environment are also important in the management of arthritis to prevent injury. Some examples include; preventing the use of stairs/steps, using rugs over slippery floors, using a ramp for movement into the car/bed/couch to avoid jumping, reassessing use of a dog door if they are having to jump through it, and avoiding certain activities such as chasing balls.

If you think that your dog may be showing signs of arthritis or if you have any questions or concerns, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 838 7267. Let’s keep our best friends comfortable this winter!