Arthritis is one of the common causes of joint pain in dogs. Older dogs are at a higher risk of getting affected by this disease. Common contributing factors include obesity, lack of exercise, or conditions such as nutritional deficiency, strain, sprain, hip dysplasia, etc. The symptoms that indicate joint problems in canines include unusual movements, difficulty in standing up, swelling in the joints, irritability, unwillingness towards physical activities like jumping, climbing stairs, etc. When the pain intensifies, the affected dog might refuse to walk.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to take your pet to the veterinarian, as soon as you identify the early signs of pain and inflammation in the joints. In order to provide relief from pain, the vet might prescribe NSAIDs (or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Though these drugs are also available over the counter, never administer them without consulting a vet. This is due to the fact that the use of some of the NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin might not be safe. The instructions given by the vet on the dosage and the duration for which the drug must be administered, must be followed strictly. In some cases, corticosteroids might also be prescribed.
These drugs can bring about temporary relief from the pain, but the prolonged use of these drugs could cause damage to the internal organs. The vet might also suggest some changes in the dog's diet. The affected dogs should be given food that is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for strengthening of the muscles and bones. Foods that can cause inflammation and worsen the symptoms should be eliminated from the dog's diet. If obesity is the issue, then the food items that can increase the dog's weight should be eliminated.
Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate are two very popular nutritional supplements that doctors recommend along with medicines. When used together, they help heal the joints. Chondroitin sulfate hydrates the joint cartilage, which enables it to function as a cushion to the joint tissues more effectively. The advantage of using glucosamine for dogs is that it keeps their joints in a lubricated state to ensure smooth movements.
In case of degenerative canine arthritis, where the joints are in a damaged state, then conservative treatment might not be enough and surgery might be recommended. There are different techniques of surgery available that can repair the damaged joint. In serious cases, the affected joint is replaced with a new joint.
Massage therapy can help provide relief from pain. Massaging each joint with light hands for 10-15 minutes daily can help improve blood circulation in the area, which in turn might decrease the swelling. The stiff muscles will also feel relaxed after the massage. For better results, you can use licorice oil to massage the painful joints.
Turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. It should be added to the dog's food regularly for relief from pain.
Cayenne, which is available in the form of cream or ointment, can be applied topically on stiff joints. This might help block the painful sensation and reduce the swelling.
Exercise is an integral part of treatment for joint pain in canines, however, strenuous exercises are not recommended as the pain may get intensified. Rather, the focus of the exercise should be to add strength and flexibility to the joint, so that their mobility can be improved. Exercise is also helpful in weight loss.
The recovery period can vary from few weeks to few months and largely depends on the severity of the condition. Be patient and do not expect any overnight results. In the meantime, joint care for dogs is essential to protect them from any further damage. For this, the dog's bedding has to be comfortable enough to ease off the tension from the joints. An orthopedic bed is highly beneficial in this regard, as it contains high density foam that provides more cushion and comfort to your pet.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.