It is estimated that one in five dogs in Australia suffer from arthritis. Arthritis can occur in any breed of dog, at any age.
Arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition in one or more joints. It is characterised by loss of cartilage, damage to the underlying bone, inflammation of the joint surface, formation of bone spurs (which look like coral) and significant changes to the joint fluid. This is turn can lead to swollen and painful joints.
It is very useful to be able to identify the early signs of arthritis. These signs are often quite subtle, and can be as mild as a change in personality.
The common signs of arthritis include-
- Less willing to exercise
- Limping on one or more legs
- Very stiff in joints in the morning or after a sleep, and a difficulty in rising
- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump into the car
- Licking or biting joints
- Change in personality. Your dog may become less playful or aggressive when touched.
- Occasional whimpering or yelping for no apparent reason
The common causes of arthritis are listed below-
- Hip dysplasia is most commonly seen in large breed dogs. This highly inherited condition results in poorly developed hips, which can cause pain and joint damage from a young age.
- Elbow dysplasia is an inherited condition seen in rapidly growing large breed dogs. It causes moderate to severe pain and arthritis in one or both elbows in dogs from 9 months of age onwards.
- Dislocated patellas (kneecaps) are very common in small breed dogs. If left untreated these can cause lameness and chronic arthritis.
- Obesity – excessive weight puts more strain on joints
- Any trauma, dislocations and fractures in joints will all result in some degree of arthritis.
- Anterior cruciate ligament rupture in the stifle (knee) leads to a very unstable joint, which if not repaired will lead to severe arthritis.
If you suspect your dog may have arthritis, please call our friendly staff to organise an appointment with one of our vets.
After examination the vet will assess a diagnostic plan, which will often include XRays of the affected joint. This will help to classify the extent of arthritic damage, which is important when establishing a treatment plan.
There are many treatment options available for acute and chronic arthritis, to help provide long term pain relief for your dog, and therefore a happier dog and happier owner!