Can Pets Get Osteoarthritis?

What Causes Osteoarthritis in Pets?

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis, a disease of the joints. More specifically, it is the untimely and relatively fast degredation of the joints. This disease involves painful manifestations and can often result in other, more serious injuries. Generally speaking, Osteoarthritis causes joint stiffness, pain, inflammation, effusion and the tearing of ligaments. There are many different causes for such an occurrence, some of which are: genetics, metabolic rate, lifestyle, environment, and mechanical causes.
Essentially, this degeneration causes wearing of the cartilage protecting the bones. When the bone becomes exposed it, it is suseptible to infection, damage, ware, and it is less able to insulate against impact. Bottom line, one’s mobility loses function.This disease is common in humans over the age of 50, primarily due to many years of ware and tare; during this process, the joints become weaker, calcium storage becomes depleted and the cartilage dissipates. A very similar phenomenon occurs in large mammals such as dogs, this is termed Canine Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms in Dogs

Canine Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of slow movement and lameness in dogs. For animals, a depleted range of motion is a huge issue because they need to be constantly active in order to stay both physically and mentally healthy. In dogs, the degredation of the cartilage often leads to the buildup of a new bone material called an Osteophyte (bone spur). The formation of osteophytes, can cause further pain, inflexibility, inflammation and make the victim susceptible to serious infection. In addition to these aspects, many canine joints (as well as human joints) are filled with nerve endings. Upon exposure due to Osteoarthritis, the nerve endings become irritated and cause severe pain. The pain often causes a lack of diet in dogs, which results in dangerous weight loss.

An interesting difference between Human and Canine Osteoarthritis is that the onset for canines is often much earlier than for humans. Therefore, the disease can be detected in its early stages and can be treated before it becomes hard to manage. One of the first signs of canine osteoarthritis is acute joint paint and continued lameness. Most owners begin to notice these signs when their pet experiences stiffness after physical activity or after getting up from a long rest. Masters may also notice their companion’s reluctancy to participate in physically stressing events. Some of these may even be daily activities such as getting in the car or keeping up with normal walks; in addition, the canine may begin to seek warm and soft surfaces, while spending extended periods of time licking and gnawing at an affected area.
Arthritic Dog Laying Down
Larger breeds are generally more predisposed to osteoarthritis. This leads experts to believe there is a genetic underlying cause to the disease, as well as an environmental cause. Physical stress also plays an important role in the onset and progression of this affliction.
It is crutial for the quality of life for any pet that their owner takes them to a veterinarian as soon as arthritic symptoms manifest. Dogs cannot let humans know when they are in pain, instead they display certain behaviors (some listed above). It is up to the owner to take notice and proper action. The vet will use several standard procedures for diagnoses; upon result, a proper prognosis will follow.
Treatment of canine osteoarthritis aims to eliminate the underpinning cause of the malignancy, reduce inflammation and pain, improve joint function, and ultimately slow the progression of the ailment.
Primarily, a veterinarian will assess the overall health of the dog. Those that are overweight will be put on a strict diet and those underweight,will be given a special diet. Canines at their proper weight, are more likely to respond to treatment with greater efficacy. In addition, the inflicted will often be prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. Together, both owners and vets can ease, if not prevent arthritis in dogs.