Not long ago I saw a dog whose owner had been forced to stop exercising because of an injury to herself. Unfortunately the result was that her elderly german shepherd X dog was no longer taken for walks either. Very quickly her dog was unable to move around very much and with the onset of cold dry season weather meg’s owners thought that her old dog had reached the end of the line.
Arthritis (osteoarthritis to be technical) is an ongoing degeneration of the joints. It causes joint pain and stiffness. Some times arthritis can be confined to just one joint, especially if its due to an old injury, but particularly in older dogs many different joints can be affected, the hips, knees and elbows are most commonly affected. There are many contributing factors the most common are old age, obesity, joint injuries and genetics. Large breed dogs are much more prone to developing arthritis and there is a very high incidence in some breeds such as Labradors, German shepherds and Rottis.
It sometimes can be hard to tell if your dog has arthritis. Dogs are often enthusiastic optimists meaning that they cover up any signs of pain. Owners often think their dog is just slowing down due to old age when in fact their dog is reluctant to go for walks and lies around a lot because it hurts to move.
Arthritis cannot be cured but there is a broad range of treatment options now available. While you can’t prevent old age catching your pet you can minimize the risk by keeping your pet at the right weight and giving it regular gentle exercise. Regular swimming or walking is excellent exercise for dodgy joints. There are now medications that can provide fast and sustained pain relief to improve your dogs comfort and mobility. By the time her owner was back on her feet so was Meg. Meg now goes for long daily walks with her recovered owner.