Spotting Arthritis in Spot

Arthritis doesn’t discriminate. It affects not only people of all ages -- including children -- but also strikes our furry friends, too. If you’re a dog-owner, you make sure your buddy takes his heartworm medicine, eats well, looks bright-eyed and playful, and greets you as only a doggy can when you come home. You notice changes in mood and activity, so if your pet isn’t feeling his best you may suspect a cold or stomach virus – but it could be arthritis. In fact, arthritis affects one in every five adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common sources of chronic pain that veterinarians treat.

Spot’s Pals Are Early Diagnosis and Treatment

How do you know if it’s arthritis? Your dog can’t explain what’s wrong with him, so it’s important to watch his non-verbal cues closely and take even subtle changes seriously.

Signs that your dog may have arthritis:

  • Favoring a limb
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or less interest in play
  • Attitude or behavior changes
  • Being less alert

If your dog seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks take him to your veterinarian for an arthritis evaluation, which will involve a physical exam and possibly X-rays. The best thing to do for your dog in managing his arthritis is to get a diagnosis and start a treatment plan as soon as possible. Treating canine arthritis is similar to that of human osteoarthritis.

Therapies may include:

  • Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
  • Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common form of pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in dogs.
  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
  • A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.

Never give your dog human medication without checking first with your veterinarian. Certain medications can be toxic to dogs – particularly acetaminophen and ibuprofen – and a safe dose will differ between a greyhound and a dachshund.

No matter how you decide to treat your dog’s arthritis, make sure you work with a veterinarian to ensure that you select a program that helps your best buddy.

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