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What is arthritis in dogs and how to treat it?

Updated on October 31, 2007

If you have a dog that is getting on with years maybe arthritis is something you are already familiar with. Arthritis is not a condition that is reserved for humans only. In fact many dogs over the age of 7 have some type of arthritis. It can affect dog's hips, neck, shoulders, back and elbows.

How to know if your dog is suffering from arthritis? If your dog prefers one side over another it might be that his legs or hips on one side give him pain so he prefers to lean on the other side to ease the pain and discomfort. Your otherwise lively and exuberant dog has suddenly become subdued and not as active anymore, it means they probably have stiff joints and are slow in their movements to avoid pain and discomfort. Weight gain can also be down to stiff joints, which in turn can lead to even more pain as overweight can cause it to be even more painful. It does not mean your dog has been eating on the sly, but that he is more lethargic and has less energy due to the stiffness of joints and the pain.

If any of these symptoms is persistent take your dog to the vet to get a correct diagnosis and talk about possible treatments that are available. There are a number of glucosamine and anti-inflammatory treatments available that can ease the discomfort and improve this condition.

Diet can also be changed to help with the condition. You should cut out the dry food as it consists out of grains mostly (grain lead to inflammation) and cook your dog meats and veggies. Flax seed and Omega 3 fatty acids are also good to help ease the stiffness in the joints. My dog has been on some type of vitamin and mineral supplement for years now (it contains all of these things and it has helped him immensely). Also have a warm and soft place for your dog to sleep on especially now with the winter coming. Winter does not help the achy joints, so you want to make sure the place your dog sleeps on is soft, comfortable and warm. If you have an outside dog, consider putting him inside over night, either in the garage or basement to avoid the drop in temperature.

Regular exercise is also important but make sure not to overdo it. Swimming is excellent as it does not put too much pressure on the joints, but short walks are equally good as they will help with flexibility and also prevent possible weight gain. Even though your dog might be tempted to run after a ball (all habits die hard) he might not be as fast as he once was. As far as treatment goes, if you suspect arthritis do go and visit the vet. I would not recommend giving your dog anything without a vet consultation. Even though there are number of treatments available for purchase you might give too much, too little or a completely wrong thing that is why a vet consult is important.

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