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The signs, symptoms and treatment of canine arthritis

Degenerative disk disease (DJD) in dogs, otherwise known as canine arthritis or osteoarthritis, affects and causes the deterioration of joint cartilage in our pets. This progressive, debilitating disease causes the breakdown of cartilage and fatigue in cartilage-producing cells. As a result, joints that are supposed to be lubricated in order to glide over each other become rough, and our pet’s joint mobility can become painful and stiff. At this point only surgery or vet-prescribed painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which can be purchased online via a Canadian Pharmacy, can provide pain-relief for the animal.

DJD can affect any joint in your dog’s body, but most often it inflicts the hips of middle-aged to senior dogs or young dogs who suffer from canine hip dysplasia, which is common in larger mixes and dog breeds.

The signs of arthritis in a canine include the following physical signs:

*Difficulty walking, jumping, playing
*Stiffness or difficulty rising from a resting position
*Difficulty or avoiding climbing stairs
*Creaking, crackling joints
*Decreased mobility or loss of interest in walks
*Lethargy or dragging of hind quarters
*Growling, yelping or snapping when picked up or touched

Treating arthritis in pets: take a pro-active approach

Canine arthritis can eventually lead to the permanent loss of mobility in the joint or joints that it afflicts. This means that proactive health and exercise are of vital importance. You can help your dog ward off or ease canine arthritis in the following ways:

1. Regular exercise: Your dog should not only go for a walk every day, he or she should jump, run, bound and play in a safe, controlled area (like a dog park or a fenced in yard). Just like humans, if your dog gets adequate daily exercise that doesn’t overtax his or her joints—it will ward off osteoarthritis and maintain good bone health, mobility and flexibility.

2.Keep the pounds off: Of course regular exercise and weight control work hand in hand. It makes sense really, the more your dog weighs; the harder the impact is on their joints. So that means dogs who are light weight experience less strain on their load bearing joints and are less prone to joint (especially hip troubles later on in life). If you’re dog is getting heavy, get him or her out for regular bounds of exercise and talk to your vet about switching to a weight-controlled diet

3. Supplement for bone health: The Arthritis Foundation recommends glucosamine for dogs with canine arthritis to help strengthen bones and relieve the symptoms of canine arthritis. Glucosamine, a chemical naturally produced in your dog’s body, also produces molecules that stimulate the production of synovial fluid (the lubricating substance that smooths the movement between joints and cartilage) when given in supplement form. Glucosamine has also been shown in numerous veterinary studies to benefit canine arthritis. Vets prefer it administered in liquid form on top of your dog’s food.

4. Other methods of arthritis relief: These include vet-prescribed painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)—including most common Rimadyl (carprofen), Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) and Palaprin6—all of which have risky side effects and only treat the pain, not the arthritis itself. It’s best to take a pro-active approach with glucosamine, exercise, rest and a healthy balanced diet. Remember: over-the-counter painkillers should never be given to a pet without first speaking to a veterinarian.

5. Regular veterinarian check-ups: The signs of canine arthritis can be identified by your veterinarian far before owners start to recognize the more drastic symptoms. That’s why it’s important to get your pet in for regular check-ups. An early canine arthritis diagnosis, mixed with recommended therapy, gentle exercise program, nutrition and diet may lessen the symptoms and pain and prolong the life and comfort of your pet.

Bernice Spradlin is an avid hiker and runner. She works at a gym in Brooklyn, New York, where she gets great inspiration for her freelance health-related articles and blogs. In her off time, you can often find Bernice jogging the East River path along the waterfront and enjoying the cool breeze.

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