by Joe Scott
There are so many components to arthritis in dogs. First you have to diagnose it, figure out the cause and then provide the appropriate stages of arthritis treatment. Arthritis is very common in hunting dogs. As an avid bird hunter I’ve seen the progression of canine arthritis on more than one occasion. That’s why I decided to create a beneficial arthritis supplement made especially for hunting dogs like Trigger, my English setter and best bud.
Arthritis is not curable; you can only prolong the progression of symptoms and reduce pain. That’s why canine arthritis education is so important. The more that you know about arthritis in dogs, the better prepared you are to help your dog maintain his or her alpha status.
Arthritis supplements for dogs are fundamental to helping your dog’s body regenerate damaged cartilage, but there are other things you can and should do in conjunction with dietary supplements. Here’s an overview of everything we’ve covered in our in-depth canine arthritis series. You’ll find each section outlined below is linked to the larger and more detailed article covering that specific topic.
#1. What Is Arthritis In Dogs?
Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. This progressive joint disease can originate from an injury, genetic predisposition or old age. Inflammation causes the fibrous joint capsule to thicken, bone spurs can form and flexibility decreases. Eventually, cartilage breaks down to the point that bone rubs against bone—which is as painful as it sounds.
#2. Are Hunting Dogs More Prone To Arthritis?
Yes, and according to avid bird hunter and veterinarian Dr. Shawn Wayment, “Hunting and athletic dogs are absolutely more prone to osteoarthritis than other dogs. Osteoarthritis is a wear and tear disease and our bird dogs wear out their joints over time.”
Think about professional athletes, they are more prone to injuries because they use their bodies in ways most people don’t. The same thing is true for hunting dogs as well as other types of sporting dogs.
#3. What Are The Early Warning Signs Of Arthritis?
Your dog could be displaying the very first stages of arthritis right now and you might not even know it. That’s because arthritis in dogs starts off very slow with mild inflammation. It takes time for inflammation to cause enough damage for your dog to encounter noticeable pain and stiffness.
Here are some early warning signs of arthritis in dogs I’ve personally noticed:
- Showing signs of stiffness or discomfort, especially when your dog first gets up
- Your dog wants to rest more than usual
- Your dog has more difficulty getting up and down
- Your dog is avoiding certain movements or actions
- Your dog is using his or her legs more carefully
After a lifetime of working with hunting dogs, I’ve realized that the first signs of arthritis are super subtle but that doesn’t mean you have to miss them. For instance, I noticed my dog Trigger was not following me around as much after a long day of hunting. That led me to notice his gait wasn’t as fluid following a hunt either. Even the most attentive dog owners could easily ignore these slight signs and dismiss them as nothing. Yet, in doing so the progression of arthritis is allowed to continue at a faster rate. No matter how young your dog is, it’s so important to be on the lookout for even the slightest shifts in movement or behavior.
#4. What Causes Arthritis?
Old age is a leading cause of arthritis due to many years of wear and tear paired with a decrease in the natural production of important nutrients that rebuild cartilage, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. Old age is far from the only cause of arthritis in dogs, in fact dogs of any age can be impacted by arthritis.
Aside from old age, other common causes of arthritis include:
- A pre existing condition that makes your dog’s conformation more prone to injury and arthritis, such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia
- Obesity and lack of exercise
- Leading a physically demanding lifestyle, such can be the case for hunting dogs and other sporting dogs
- An old injury that never 100% healed back to normal
#5. Are There Any Natural Arthritis Remedies For Dogs That Really Work?
Natural arthritis remedies for dogs are ideal because they don’t have the same drawbacks as manufactured remedies, like NSAIDs. While NSAIDs and steroids reduce pain, they can worsen arthritis overtime. On the other hand, natural remedies like glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM, actually help your dog naturally regrow damaged cartilage, reducing pain and adding more quality to your dog’s years.
#6. What Are The Different Stages Of Arthritis & How Does Treatment Change?
Arthritis starts off very mild and then progresses into more advanced stages. The first stage of canine arthritis is very mild and typically goes undetected. In order to push back the progression of arthritis, it’s so important to keep your pal in physically good shape and provide the right arthritis supplements for dogs.
The second stage of arthritis in dogs is usually when you’ll notice your dog showing visible signs of stiffness and pain. This is especially true when they first get up or after a grueling day of hunting or other exercise. Fitness, weight and nutritional supplements for arthritis in dogs are still important at this point. Other treatment options include massage therapy, acupuncture and non-weight bearing exercises.
By the third stage of arthritis, your dog’s disease has progressed to the point that they have very little cartilage left and bone may be rubbing on bone. This stage of arthritis can be very painful for your pup. While all of the treatment measures outlined above are still important at this stage, you’ll need to provide additional pain relief through things like NSAIDs or steroid injections.
#7. What Can I Do Around The House To Help My Dog’s Arthritis?
You can help decrease your dog’s arthritis pain and improve their quality of life by making a few simple changes around your home.
- Add area rugs to slippery surfaces where your dog regularly frequents, especially in areas where your dog has a tendency to slip
- Add dog ramps that lead up to beds, furniture or anywhere else your dog likes to hang out that requires jumping up and down
- Make sure your pup has a plush dog bed to rest in at night and during the day
- Keep your home warm during the winter, as cold conditions increase arthritis pain
#8. Should I Still Exercise My Dog If He Has Arthritis?
Yes! It’s so important that dogs with arthritis get plenty of exercise. Dogs with arthritis need frequent short bursts of exercise throughout the day in order to prevent their muscles and joints from tensing up. Instead of taking one hour long walk each day, strive to take three 10 to 15-minute walks spread out throughout the day.
#9. What Are The Best Natural Supplements For Dogs With Arthritis?
An assortment of natural arthritis supplements for dogs, such as glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin, can offer incredible benefits. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally found in your dog’s body; in fact they are essential building blocks for cartilage.
Injuries, overuse, old age and genetic predispositions can all impact your dog’s ability to produce enough chondroitin and glucosamine to rebuild damaged cartilage. By adding supplements like these to your dog’s diet you can virtually push back the clock and slow the progression of arthritis. At the same time you help decrease your dog’s pain by giving him the natural ingredients necessary to generate new cartilage.
This article was posted with the permission of AlphaDog Nutrition “Designed from the ground up by our Pet Nutritionists with the hunting dog in mind.” Copyright © Hunt Alpha. All rights reserved.