KEEPING SENIOR DOGS ACTIVE
Pet owners may think it is normal for an aging dog to move stiffly and have trouble rising from a prone position or jumping onto furniture. They may not realize that the underlying pain of osteoarthritis rather than old age could cause their dog’s stiffness or slow movements. With proper management of osteoarthritis, senior dogs can lead active, comfortable lives. Discuss your pet’s clinical signs with a veterinarian.
WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis is commonly known as degenerative joint disease. As the name suggests, it is a painful degenerative disease that affects weight-bearing joints such as the hips, elbows, and stifles. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:
- Previous joint injuries
- Large or giant breeds
- Lack of exercise
RECOGNIZING SIGNS OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
- Preference of lying down to sitting or standing
- Increased stiffness, especially after resting
- Difficulty jumping onto furniture or into the car
- Whimpering, growling, or snapping when touched
- Reluctance to go up or down stairs
- Favoring of a limb
Our veterinarians will create a treatment plan for your pet that may include weight reduction, moderate exercise, joint neutraceuticals and pain medication.
The primary medical therapy used in treating osteoarthritis is administration of NSAIDS, such as Previcox, and Rimadyl. This group of drugs includes carprofen, etodolac and others. NSAIDS work by reducing the production of inflammatory fatty acids in joints and other tissues.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Once your dog has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis it is very important to implement changes that your veterinarian recommend. If your dog has been prescribed a medication or diet change, it is necessary to diligently administer the medication or diet as prescribed.
If your veterinarian has advised weight loss to help manage a dogs’ osteoarthritis, a restricted-calorie food is ideal. Maintaining proper body weight not only helps take pressure off of joints but also keeps dogs lean, which studies have shown helps them live longer.
Aging does not have to be a painful process. As long as you use the proper knowledge and tools, you can help your canine patients grow old gracefully.