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Identifying and Managing Arthritis in Your Dog

dog on a snowy bridge
Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

As the weather turns in Colorado Springs from falling leaves to falling snow, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior. Your playful pup may not enjoy the snow as much as they used to. If you notice your dog slow down during the winter months or as they age, they could be experiencing arthritis.

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we want your dog to be healthy and thriving through every season. This is why our compassionate team is dedicated to educating dog owners about the importance of noticing changes in their dog’s behavior. We know that arthritis can quickly affect your dog’s daily activities, and we want to do all we can to help mitigate the issue.

Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis, is the most common type of arthritis, can be devastating to your dog’s comfort and daily functions. The joint pain can surface for a variety of reasons. Primarily, much like humans, dogs will develop the pain and stiffness as they age.

Along with age, excessive weight and injuries contribute to the onset of arthritis. When your dog is overweight or obese, their joints and ligaments have to bear the extra weight, leading to deterioration over time. As for injuries, dogs, young or old, can strain their joints and ligaments. This strain can be caused by excessive exercise or an accidental injury while playing and running.

Dog Arthritis Symptoms

Compared to arthritis in cats, recognizing osteoarthritis may be more difficult. Generally, the beginnings of dog arthritis will present itself in stiffness and your pet’s need to “slow down” during daily activities. Your dog likely has arthritis and should be taken to a vet if these symptoms are prevalent:

  • Slow getting up, stiffness
  • Hesitant to play, run, or walk
  • Difficulty ascending and descending stairs
  • Reluctant to jump into the car or onto furniture
  • Limping or usual gait
  • Appetite loss
  • Usual weight gain
  • Sleeping more frequently
  • Difficulty squatting to urinate or defecate, going inside
  • Sensitive to touch near the infected joint

Dog Arthritis Treatment

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis cannot be cured. However, there are steps owners can take to help manage their dog’s discomfort.

  • Weight management – keep an eye out for unusual weight gain.
  • Food – ensure your dog is eating a proper amount of food, as well as getting the nutrients he needs.
  • Joint supplements – talk to your veterinarian about joint supplement options. These supplements can relieve some of your dog’s stiffness and discomfort.
  • Make home modifications – improve your dog’s comfort by making his daily activities easier and more accessible. This can look like getting a new, quality bed, placing ramps to your dog’s favorite spots (eliminates the need to jump), and purchasing elevated food bowls.
  • Massage – to help relieve pain, you can gently massage around affected areas.
  • Exercise – be sure your dog is getting proper exercise. Talk to your veterinarian to determine a safe amount of exercise.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – some veterinarians may suggest the use of Aspirin or other prescription medications. A blood test will be done to ensure your dog’s liver and kidney are in good condition to use these medicines. Never medicate your dog without first consulting with a veterinarian.
  • Surgery – in severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to improve your dog’s mobility. Generally, this will be repairing joints or replacing them with artificial joints.

Canine Osteoarthritis Prevention

The best way to prevent osteoarthritis, or at least delay its onset, is to take action when your dog is still a puppy.

  • Weight – ensuring your pup maintains a healthy weight will reduce the strain on his joints.
  • Nutrition – not all dog foods are created equal. Talk with your veterinarian about which foods will provide the nutrients your pup needs.
  • Comfort – give your dog plenty of comfortable places to sleep.
  • Exercise – maintain an exercise routine for your pup. You need to balance getting exercise, while not over-exercising your pup

Have You Noticed Signs of Canine Arthritis? | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

Is your dog getting older and showing signs of slowing down? Don’t let limited mobility get the best of your dog’s senior years. With our comprehensive wellness exams and lab work, we’ll determine proper treatment for your furry friend. Schedule an appointment with our compassionate team today!

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.