Before Rodrigo was a year old, he started limping after playing at the dog park or long walks. We took him to the vet, but he showed no signs of pain or injury when examined so we were instructed to limit his play and pay attention to his symptoms.
When the limping became worse, our veterinarian recommended an x-ray (cost = $280) and discovered that Rodrigo had developed arthritis due to poor bone growth. We were given two options by our veterinarian…
- Surgery – Rodrigo could get surgery to repair the area where the arthritis was developing. This would cost us thousands of dollars and wouldn’t be a permanent fix.
- Supplements – a joint supplement that contain glucosamine, chondrotin, and MSM would help improve Rodrigo’s joint movement and manage pain and discomfort.
We chose to give Rodrigo joint supplements and after trying different brands for dogs we now give both Rodrigo and Sydney Wag Lifetime Joint Care Chewable Supplement For Dogs and it’s been great. Rodrigo’s limp is a thing of the past.
About Arthritis in Dogs
by Dr. Scott Bainbridge, Dundas West Animal Hospital, Toronto Canada
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common in dogs and can be a result of a multitude of factors. OA results from the wear and tear on joints. The most common causes are genetics, age, obesity, and traumatic injuries.
Breeds Predisposed to Arthritis
Certain breeds are predisposed to OA and these include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers, just to name a few. No dog is immune to OA but it does seem to be diagnosed more commonly in mid to large breed dogs. I highly recommend that clients research breed lines for evidence of familial OA prior to picking a breeder or puppy.
Cause of Arthritis in Dogs: Age and Obesity
Age and obesity plays a major factor in canine OA. The older and heavier an animal is, the more wear and tear that is placed on their joints. Obesity can lead to OA and causes the dog to be more painful and less likely to exercise. As a result, the obesity problem worsens and so the cycle begins. Obesity is also common in puppies and can lead to excessive strain on the hips, knees and elbow joints. It is a known fact that overweight puppies with be predisposed to OA in the future. As a veterinarian, I stress the importance of proper nutrition through all stages of a dog’s life .
Cause of Arthritis in Dogs: Trauma
Trauma is another cause of canine OA. Untreated injuries to joints can lead to instability which in turn can lead to OA. Obviously, the more active the dog, the more likely they are to experience some form of trauma. I stress to clients that they exercise their pets in safe environments. Exercise should be encouraged but on safe ground. Avoid icy conditions and never over exercise young growing animals. Some mild lamenesses can be treated with a few days of rest; however, I encourage dog owners to seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog has a painful, swollen or non weight bearing injury.
Prevention of Arthritis
The best way to help prevent OA is through proper breeding and even more importantly, through proper nutrition. Puppies need to be fed an age/breed appropriate diet and be monitored closely for signs of obesity. Proper nutrition with appropriate supplementation is essential in adult dogs also. I highly recommend high quality diets supplemented with glucosamine and omega 3 fatty acids for those breeds predisposed to OA. Plenty of safe exercise should also be encouraged. Regular visits to your veterinarian may help prevent OA or at least lead to early detection of this unfortunate canine ailment.
Arthritis, Diet, and Over Vaccination
Anything that causes inflammation can lead to arthritis. While genetics play a part, we have to ask ourselves why one big dog has painful arthritis where another very similar dog doesn’t. It’s what we do with the genetic potential that
accelerates or inhibits arthritic development. So, what are causes? Anything that causes inflammation! Key culprits are food/nutrition, vaccinations and all the other pro-inflammatory things we do to our pets. Most pet foods are made with ingredients we would never eat – ingredients that are illegal for human consumption are legal for dog food. This is the biggest thing we do to our dogs – feed them. Next, many dogs are overvaccinated – which leads to
inflammation and can turn off normal cancer suppressor genes in dogs (and cats and any other species).
Arthritis prevention: weight management, excellent food ingredients, minimal chemical treatments. Use nutraceuticals [a food or food product that reportedly provides health and medical benefits] which support bones and joints, seek veterinary spinal manipulation therapy (animal chiropractic) and acupuncture. There are also fun things like swimming, massage and reiki that help improve the discomfort of arthritis. The goal of any treatment is to improve motion in the joints.
Motion inhibits pain directly at the spinal cord level – movement keeps our dogs using their joints, which slows buildup of bony spicules in the joints, which is what arthritis is.