Canine Osteoarthritis

Canine osteoarthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease. It occurs when cartilage in the joint is damaged, either following a traumatic event, when extra stress is put on the joint due to obesity, or if the joint has a congenital predisposition. When the cartilage in the joint is damaged, a cascade of inflammatory changes occurs, eventually leading to the destruction of the cartilage and subsequent damage to the underlying bone. Cartilage contains no nerves. Therefore, if your pet is showing signs of pain, the damage to the underlying bone has already started.

It is important to start treating osteoarthritis as soon as possible to slow the progression of the disease. Treatment should begin with a visit to the vet so your pet’s joints can be evaluated via palpation and radiograghs. Some steps to be taken can be simple, such as making sure your pet is at a slender weight, or changing his exercise routine from runs to walks, or getting a folding ramp to get into and out of the car. Other assistance may come in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) which will reduce the inflammation in the joints and make your pet more compfortable. There are potential side-effects to NSAIDS, mostly GI and liver issues. Therefore, your pet should have blood work done prior to starting NSAIDS, and will need to be monitored every six months after starting the NSAIDS. You and your vet should discuss which course of action is appropriate for you and your pet.

Information in this post was originally written by Susan G. Wynn DVM, RH (AHG) in her article titled “What Can I Do About My Pet’s Arthritis?”

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