Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that results from degeneration of joints. The soft cartilage tissues present in the joints prevent friction between the bones in the joint. When the cartilage wears out, the bones rub against each other. This gives rise to pain and inflammation in the joint, and makes it stiff. The degeneration of cartilage can be triggered by many different factors, including aging, congenital defects, localized trauma, etc.
Arthritic joint pain in dogs can be identified from changes in the dog's behavior. They move laboriously and with great caution, do not jump around or play, and refuse to walk up stairs. In more advanced stages, when the symptoms intensify, they start limping, whimpering, and even outright refuse to walk. If you see your pet suffer from so much pain, the first thing that needs to be done is paying a visit to the vet. Do not give any treatment on your own without consulting the vet.
Pain relieving medicines, like acetaminophen and aspirin, are mostly prescribed for the dogs. Acetaminophen only reduces the pain, but is not effective on inflammation. Aspirin can bring about relief from both pain and inflammation. You can get these medicines over the counter as well, but this should be avoided. This is because these medicines should be administered in correct dosage. Any overdose can lead to serious side effects in dogs, which could be life-threatening for them. Therefore, follow the dosage instructions provided by the vet very carefully.
In case of severe pain, a cortisone injection is administered directly into the affected joint for instant pain relief. Along with these medications, vets recommend two nutritional supplements, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate. Chondroitin and glucosamine are actually present in cartilage. So when it is used as supplement, they heal degenerated cartilage structure, add lubricant to the joints, and improve joint mobility. If the arthritis is at an advanced stage where the joint has already been badly damaged, then surgery is the only available option. Here, the damaged part of the joint is either repaired or replaced by surgical means.
Natural Pain Relief
Many medicines for canine arthritis cannot be used on a long term basis as, they have an adverse effect on the dog's health. For this reason, many people consider natural alternatives as the best pain relievers. The options available to you are discussed below:
Rest: A good amount of rest is essential for proper recovery from joint pain. As a pet owner it is your responsibility to keep your pet in such a place in the house that it can rest without any disturbance.
Diet: Proper diet is a must whether you are treating the arthritis with or without medicines. Feed your dog natural, organic foods that are rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to make the joints healthy. As the affected dog lives an inactive life, it tends to put on a lot of weight in this phase. So, eliminate all the foods that can lead to weight gain.
Exercise: A little bit of exercise will improve blood flow to the inflamed joints and reduce swelling and stiffness. Another advantage of exercise is that it will help control the rise in body weight. Some simple exercises that improve joint strength and flexibility without straining the dog too much, are highly recommended in this condition.
Massage: Massaging is another way of increasing blood circulation in the affected joint and relaxing the stiff muscles of the region. A daily massage of about 15-20 minutes can be very helpful. You can simply rub the area gently with your hands, or use licorice oil for the same.
Herbs: There are a number of herbs that can be used to treat canine arthritis. Yucca oil can be applied on the painful joint. It has a component named saponin, which promotes the release of certain hormones that help in faster healing of the damaged joint. Cayenne is another herb that is found in the form of creams and ointments. If applied topically, it provides relief by obstructing the sense of pain.
Joint protection is the most important factors in the prevention of conditions such as arthritis. The pet's bedding should provide ease to the joint area, and should not further strain it. You can use specially designed orthopedic dog beds with high density foam, and heat and massage features which can be used to give adequate comfort to the affected joints.