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Osteoarthritis in dogs

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Posted on October 08 2018

Irreversible process related to age or heredity depending on the case, osteoarthritis causes the dog to suffer and impairs his movements. However, it is possible to relieve it in various ways.

Aging and genetic predispositions can promote the development of osteoarthritis in dogs , just as in humans. When this disease appears and progresses, it prevents the animal from moving normally. It is also accompanied by painful sensations and may progress to an advanced stage that prevents it from performing certain movements.


If osteoarthritis does not heal, the process of cartilage degradation can not be reversed, it is possible to relieve the affected dog and allow him to regain much of his mobility . What characterizes osteoarthritis? What are the different types? How to establish the diagnosis and treat the animal?

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the progressive breakdown of articular cartilage covering the bone tissues of the joints. This cartilage helps absorb shocks and protect the joints. By being destroyed, it can no longer fulfill its protective function , which generates painful sensations for the affected animal. Pain is not the only direct consequence of osteoarthritis: the affected dog also loses some of its mobility. His gait becomes difficult and irregular. Some of these movements become even impossible to perform.

As it progresses, osteoarthritis also promotes the appearance of abnormal bone formations on the joints, which lose their flexibility . In addition, the dog reduces his movements because of the pain and thus contributes to the atrophy of part of his musculature.

Osteoarthritis mainly affects the joints that support the body of the animal, namely the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. There are two types of osteoarthritis in dogs: primary osteoarthritis and secondary osteoarthritis.

Primary osteoarthritis

The so-called primitive osteoarthritis is that which appears in the old dog . Over the years, the used articular cartilage is not renewed fast enough. As a result, it gradually disappears and the joints no longer have this natural shock absorber.

In general, several joints suffer simultaneously.

Secondary osteoarthritis

Secondary osteoarthritis refers to another form of osteoarthritis that is related to a malfunction of a joint. This can be a consequence of a malformation , as in cases of hip dysplasia , for example. The breeds of large dogs are among those with a genetic predisposition to this condition: Rottweiler , German Shepherd , Golden Retriever , Labrador Retriever , Bernese Mountain Dog , Pyrenean Mountain Dog ...

Secondary osteoarthritis can also be caused by trauma . It is indeed possible that a fracture favors the appearance of such a phenomenon.

Diagnosis and treatment

Like the manifestations of osteoarthritis, the examination can also be painful for the dog, because the joints must be examined to establish the diagnosis . These manipulations are supplemented by X - rays which make it possible to evaluate the degree of the affection.

Once the diagnosis is made, the veterinarian will put in place the most appropriate treatment . It reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but not its origin, because the damage is irreversible . It is simply possible to relieve pain and, in some cases, slow the destruction of cartilage.

The specialist will first recommend a readjustment of the physical exercise of the dog, which should become moderate not to wear more joints (without removing it, which could weaken his muscles and make the problem worse). For this same purpose, he will also advise to fight overweight if it exists by monitoring the feeding of the animal.

With regard to drug management, anti-inflammatory drugs are generally administered to reduce pain. The veterinarian may recommend an injection of ARA 3000 Beta, a combination of essential fatty acid copolymers that appears to have worked satisfactorily.

If it is an old osteoarthritis, associated with ankylosis (blocked joint), a surgical intervention called arthrodesis can be considered. Finally, corrective surgery can be undertaken in subjects who may have osteoarthritis due to malformation.

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