Osteoarthritis in dog
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common joint diseases in dogs. Most often, the joints that bear the most weight of the body are affected. These include elbow, shoulder, knee and hip. Many older dogs, are affected by osteoarthritis.
What is a joint?
Joints are movable connections of bones. They are exposed to high stresses in daily use. The bones in the joint are covered with cartilage. There is synovial fluid between the cartilages. The joint cartilage and the joint fluid have the function to cushion the joint. They provide lubricity. The synovial fluid additionally nourishes the cartilage and protects the joint surface. The movement of the joint keeps the synovial fluid supple. The cartilage is optimally supplied. This is how a healthy joint works.
Reasons can be wear and tear as a result of natural aging or overweight. But also incorrect and overload, inactivity and misalignment of joints. Cartilage particles are abraded or even splinter off. These particles then float around freely in the joint fluid. They interfere with the flow of movement. As a result, the insulating function decreases. The cartilage surface is no longer smooth. In the later stages, the bone is damaged. This is also not without consequences for the joint fluid. It becomes thinner and lubricates worse. In some cases, it disappears altogether.
Osteoarthritis is chronic
This means restriction and pain in movement for your dog. It often goes unnoticed for a long time. It is only noticed when it is far advanced. This is because the cartilage itself is not innervated (traversed by nerves). It does not give a signal that something is wrong. In the advanced stage, the body tries to help itself. So-called joint lips are formed. These are bony appendages to stabilize and protect the joint. Only when the cartilage shows significant damage and inflammation develops in the joint does the dog feel the pain in movement.
What are the symptoms?
When osteoarthritis is activated, five typical signs of inflammation are present. These are warmth, pain, swelling, functional limitation and redness. Symptoms include lameness, reluctance to move, nibbling or licking the joints. A stiff gait, pain on starting and moving, sensitivity to the weather, and muscle breakdown are also part of the condition. It can be detected by X-ray or a CT scan, among other methods. Here it becomes visible whether the joint space is changed. Pieces of cartilage and bony growths become visible.
Is sparing the solution?
Far from it. The most important thing is to maintain mobility. Otherwise, the arthrosis will continue to progress. Your dog continues to lose muscle. And the less muscle he has, the more the joints have to compensate. However, the load must be adjusted to your dog’s disease state. It is better to take several short walks a day. By doing specific exercises from physical therapy, you can keep your dog pain-free and mobile. You also support it by accompanying administration of nutritional supplements.
In my next article I’ll tell you two simple exercises to do. With them you train agility and musculature of your dog.