Arthritis is an affliction that many dogs suffer from, especially as they get older. According to a study sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, as many as 20% of adult dogs may suffer from arthritis. Just as with humans, the causes for canine arthritis are spread over a wide array of factors including genetics, previous injuries or accidents, infection, immune system problems, and excessive strain through repeated activities and exercises. If your dog does have arthritis, then canine obesity plays a significant role in the amount of pain your dog feels from. The reason for this is simple: obesity places undue stress and pressure on your dog’s joints, and can therefore accelerate the degeneration of joints and aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.
Basically, there are three general types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Infectious Arthritis (Septic Arthritis). Hip Dysplasia, although not a type of arthritis is a degenerative joint disease similar to arthritis and, depending on the severity of the condition, may have similar treatment options. Osteoarthritis is commonly found to have a genetic link and usually progresses with age. The effect that osteoarthritis has on your dog can include deterioration to cartilage and bone, as well as inflammation in and around the joint. In response to this, the body produces bone spurs (a bony remodeling) around the joint structure. Treatment for this form of arthritis is usually pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory medication.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is characterized by pits in the cartilage and can be treated with steroids. In rheumatoid arthritis, the dog’s immune system produces antibodies against the body’s own protein resulting in severe inflammation that damages the cartilage and surrounding tissues. Finally, Septic arthritis (infectious arthritis) is distinguished by an infection in the joint and can be treated with antibiotics. In this case, the arthritis is being caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection in the dog’s joints. Any infection on your dog should be immediately checked by your veterinarian, because the dog’s bloodstream can carry an infecting organism to the joint (causing septic arthritis) from another part of the body where the infection is occurring.
The telling symptoms of arthritis are varied and can be general (as they may be symptoms that are shared with another ailment). Therefore, if your dog shows any of the following warning signs on a regular basis, have a veterinarian examine them in order to make a correct diagnosis and recommend any appropriate treatments specific to your pet’s needs.
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