Saturday, 2 February 2008

A is for Arthritis

Hello, today I am writing about an important dog health and welfare issue.

Arthritis can range from the odd twinge and some joint stiffness to severe pain and disability.

It can affect young dogs as well as old dogs.

So what causes arthritis?

It is inflammation of a joint which may be caused by infection, an old injury, or hereditary joint deformity (e.g. hip dysplasia).

It is incurable. So proper management is required.

Dogs are very good at masking pain. (Rottweillers are very stoical, if a rottie shows pain then it is very severe). So what do we look for?

- excessive panting

- crying

- staring

- constant licking of or chewing at a painful area

- limping

- stiffness

- not wanting to play or go for a walk

- refusing food

What can we do? Firstly consult your vet, who will be able to assess your dog's condition, and suggest treatment.

There are non-drug treatments :

- swimming

- joint supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. These can be found in products such as Cortaflex and Seraquin.

- herbal remedies like Chudleys Mobility

- natural anti- imflammatories like devil's claw root. If you give your dog this you MUST tell the vet in case drugs are prescribed. Your dog could get too much anti-imflammatory.

- a good balanced diet

- keep your dog's weight under control

- sensible exercise

- magnetic collars e.g. Bioflow

Prescription drugs may become necessary. These could be anti-inflammatory pain-killers such as Metacam or Rimadyl. Steroids may be needed.

On a personal note, Olive, my 11 year old female greyhound, has had arthritis for 2-3 years. I've kept it under control for 2 years without resorting to prescription drugs. I used Cortaflex and Mobility. Later on devil claw's root. All with great success.

Six months ago she worsened. She has it in all four limbs and there is a suspect area in her back.

Metacam makes her sick. Rimadyl didn't work well enough, so sadly she is now on PLTs (prednoleucotropin). This is an older drug which is a pain-killer with some steroid.

She recently had a blood test to check her organs are still functioning as they should. Thankfully it was a good result.

We all love our dogs and want the best for them. It is easy to think that a treatment isn't working, but without it your dog could be in real pain and/or immobile.

Please weigh your dog. You can do this free at your vet. If your dog is overweight it is important that it loses weight. Less dog treats I'm afraid.

Dog walking. Your dog won't want to go as far as usual. Little and often is far better than a big walk, even if your dog wants to do it. They can suffer for several days if they do too much.

I've worked out a series of circular walks of different lengths which suit Olive. (You do have to come back!).

You do have to consider a dog's enjoyment of life. That is part of dog welfare.

Olive likes to roll on her back and twist and wriggle (this is to make sure that we have enough white hair in the carpet!). Not good for her arthritis but she loves doing it. And if she is going well and enjoying her walk then we go a bit further.

It comes down to knowing your dog and careful observation of how they are doing.

Your dog will get worse after resting, but gentle movement and exercise will get them up and (not quite) running.

In cold and wet conditions it is a good idea if they wear a dog coat.

Make sure the dog bed is well padded and not in a draught.

Swimming in a dog hydrotherapy pool is a good idea. They can get good exercise without putting strain on the joints.

Losing weight also reduces strain on the joints.

Muscle wastage will happen due to the decrease in exercise. This will cause some weight loss - muscle is heavier than fat.
It is important to keep as much muscle tone as possible and to stengthen the tendons and ligaments connecting the joints.
This will help support affected joints and increase mobility, and improve your dog's quality of life and welfare.

Well I am running out of steam, so I will say goodbye for now.

Please post a message and do call again.

Tomorrow I think I will write about dog blood donors and also dog books.

Bye, Ti

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