Nov 2, 2009

Does my dog have arthritis?

This next couple of blogs will help you determine if your pet is the ONE out of four dogs that suffers from the pain and immobility caused by arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or just “wear and tear”, is a condition in which low-grade inflammation results in pain in the joints. The result is pain and wearing of the cartilage that covers the bones of the joints.

The cartilage’s role is to protect the joint by allowing for smooth movement and to absorb shock when pressure is placed on the joint, like in movements such as walking, running and jumping up. In OA, the bone surfaces become less protected by cartilage. Because of decreased use due to the pain associated with movement, muscles may atrophy (become smaller), and ligaments may become more lax/loose.

OA is the most common form of arthritis. The word is derived from the Greek word “osteo”, meaning “of the bone”, “arthro”, meaning “joint”, and “itis”, meaning inflammation. Without the usual amount of cartilage the bones of the joint can rub together (often described as bone on bone) which can cause pain, inflammation, stiffness and crepitus (this is where you can almost hear with your hands the cracking and popping going on within a joint).

So what are the risk factors for arthritis?
Your pet may have started down the road of arthritis due to:

  • Hip or elbow dysplasia (wrong shape of bones and joint)
  • Being overweight
  • A broken bone
  • Previous surgeries realigning the bones
  • Infection (usually caused by bacteria or viruses)
  • An autoimmune disease (the body attacks itself because the immune system believes a body part is foreign) (Polyarthritis)
  • Or the most common: “wear and tear” on joints from daily life or from a sport that
    has a repetitive action that is performed

With some injuries and diseases, the inflammation does not go away or the damage results in long-term pain and deformity. When this happens, your pet now has chronic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type and is more likely to occur as your pet ages. Pets are living much longer with all the advances in diagnosing and treating diseases. Pet owners and veterinarians have also become much more proactive about recognizing the fact that dogs can feel pain and can be silently suffering.

Does your dog have any of the conditions above that make him prone to arthritis?


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