Arthritis in Labrador Retrievers – Symptoms and Treatment in Senior Dogs

How can arthritis be diagnosed?

Large breeds like Labradors often develop Osteoarthritis when reaching older age.  Early symptoms detection improves effective treatment in senior dogs. Before we dig into ways you can alleviate your Labrador’s arthritis pain, let’s discuss the symptoms and treatment of arthritis in older dogs. Arthritis is a common, painful and debilitating disease that afflicts many domestic dogs. Commonly described as a breakdown of joint cartilage, osteoarthritis is actually a disease that afflicts the entire joint , including the cartilage, bones and synovium (a membrane that surrounds the cartilage and contains synovial fluid). The end result is discomfort, pain and, eventually, depression – all of which combine to reduce your dog’s quality of life.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex condition involving inflammation and degeneration of one or more joints. The word osteoarthritis is derived from several words in Greek: osteo meaning “bone,” arthro meaning “joint,” and itis meaning “inflammation. ” dogs with Osteoarthritis experience pain and inflammation in various joints that interfere with the activities of daily living. Oa is diagnosed through a combination of a thorough physical examination, a palpation (feeling with the fingers to localize pain and determine its intensity), and additional diagnostics including x-rays or other imaging technology.

A number of different musculoskeletal problems have been reported in Labrador Retrievers. While it may seem overwhelming, each condition can be diagnosed and treated to prevent undue pain and suffering. With diligent observation at home and knowledge about the diseases that may affect your friend’s bones, joints, or muscles, you will be able to take great care of him throughout his life. Both hips and elbows are at risk for dysplasia, an inherited disease that causes the joints to develop improperly and results in arthritis. Stiffness in your Labrador’s elbows or hips may become a problem for him, especially as he matures.

Osteoarthritis in Labrador Retrievers

For dogs that are symptomatic, early intervention is the best way to maintain good quality of life and this usually requires some form of surgical invention. If the condition goes untreated, this can cause progression of the arthritis, lifelong pain and difficulty walking or running. The most important way to take care of any young dog diagnosed with arthritis is to manage their weight. Dogs that are too heavy have greater stress and strain on their joints, will be less inclined to exercise and may be in chronic pain. A dog is at an ideal body condition (weight) when you can feel a dog’s ribs but not see them.

Arthritis Does Not Only Affect Senior Dogs

Osteoarthritis affects about 3. 3% to 3. 6% of the population globally. It is the 11th most debilitating disease around the world, causing moderate to severe disability in 43 million people. 80% of the united states population over 65 years old has radiographic evidence of arthritis, with 60% of this subset having symptoms (radiographic arthritis is at least twice as common as symptomatic Osteoarthritis). Note changes on radiograph do not prove that oa is the cause of the patient’s joint pain. In 2011, there were almost 1 million hospitalizations for Osteoarthritis with an aggregate cost of nearly $15 billion making it the second most expensive disease seen in the united states.

When arthritis is diagnosed in dogs, many owners with feel true empathy. They know what it’s like to have achy, stiff joints, so they make it a top priority to ease their pets’ discomfort.  When Carol noticed her dog limping last year, she went right to the vet. The diagnosis: knee osteoarthritis (oa). Carol has oa, too – in her right wrist. She occasionally takes an over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (nsaid). But abe gets the prescription nsaid carprofen (rimadyl) daily. “i’m not one of those people who just sits around thinking about my aches and pains,” carol says.

Arthritis in senior dogs is one of the most common health problems diagnosed by veterinarians every year. Study data reveals that as many as 1 in 4 dogs in the united states suffer from some form of canine arthritis. Arthritis is a general term for joint inflammation that can be due to trauma, infection, congenital issues, structural problems, or autoimmune disease,, and although arthritis is more common as pets age, younger pets can have issues, as well.

Osteoarthritis is Incurable

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments, the most common being joint supplements and pain medications,. Other treatment options are massage therapy, underwater treadmill therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments and laser therapy. For pet parents looking for available arthritis treatments for dogs, there are some supplements that can help. Glucosamine and chondroitin are frequently used, but always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog supplements. If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, there are a couple of other things that you can do to help keep them comfortable.

As we age, there are things we know to expect. A decrease in the quality of our eyesight, a loss of skin elasticity, and frequently, arthritis. These age-related changes aren’t specific to people—our pets experience them too. For example, these are signs your dog may have arthritis. Studies estimate that 20 percent of middle-aged dogs will be diagnosed with canine osteoarthritis. While there are several types of medicine for dogs that help with pain and inflammation associated with arthritis (there is no cure), many of them have unpleasant side effects, so frequently owners look for alternative treatments.

How can I manage my dog’s arthritis?

Canine arthritis is the biggest cause of chronic pain for older dogs. It affects at least 1 in 5 dogs (likely even more!). The best thing we can do for our dogs is to recognize the early symptoms of arthritis and take a comprehensive approach to manage pain. There are many things you can do to help the older dogs in your life stay active and enjoy a high quality of life, whether they have canine arthritis or are at risk for developing it!
but it can be hard to know what really helps.  Regular exercise, done correctly, is one of the best things you can do to help your senior dog stay healthy and active. Exercise can also lessen the impact of canine arthritis.

There is no cure for arthritis, but the pain can often be managed with anti-inflammatories and/or painkillers. Relieving pain improves mobility which helps to maintain supporting muscle mass. Weight control is vital in managing symptoms and supplements such as yumove are said to reduce stiffness, promote better joint health and increase mobility. But dogs with arthritis are likely to need medication; your vet will be able to advise on this. Massage, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy may also help. In some cases, surgery may be advised but it’s unlikely that surgery will restore perfect joint function for life. New therapies, such as stem cell therapy, are also becoming more available for dogs and some seem to yield promising results.

How You Can Ease Your Senior Dog’s Arthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis can be difficult to detect in its early stages, and often the symptoms do not become apparent until the affected joint is badly damaged. Some dogs can also be very stoic and will hide their pain until it becomes severe. Thus, it is important to monitor middle-aged to senior dogs and those predisposed to osteoarthritis for early signs of joint disease.
These signs include:

  • stiffness, lameness, or difficulty getting up;
  • lethargy;
  • irritability or changes in behavior;
  • pain when petted or touched.

Both hips and elbows are at risk for dysplasia, an inherited disease that causes the joints to develop improperly and results in arthritis. Stiffness in your Labrador’s elbows or hips may become a problem for him, especially as he matures. You may notice that he begins to show lameness in his legs or has difficulty getting up from lying down. We can treat the arthritis—the sooner the better—to minimize discomfort and pain. We’ll take x-rays of your dog’s bones to identify issues as early as possible. Surgery is also sometimes a good option in severe and life-limiting cases.

These are often prescribed to improve function, reduce inflammation, and slow the progression of joint damage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two common joint supplement ingredients that are used in both humans and dogs. These supplements work by reducing inflammation, promoting healing, and increasing water retention in the cartilage, which provides more cushioning for the joint. Green-lipped mussel (glm) is another proven joint supplement ingredient for both humans and dogs and contains beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, glycosaminoglycans, and antioxidants. Glm is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help decrease pain and preserve joint function. Joint supplements like glyde mobility chews are often used as an early intervention and throughout the progression of osteoarthritis because they are safe for long-term use in most patients.

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Weight Management Improves Arthritis Symptoms

Research has also shown that even a small decrease in weight can reduce lameness (pain or discomfort) in dogs with osteoarthritis. A 10% weight loss in dogs with hip osteoarthritis (secondary to hip dysplasia) was found to have vast improvement in their lameness
No matter what your dog’s joint health looks like, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle. In dogs with osteoarthritis, carrying excess weight on damaged joints is not only painful, but can also speed up the process of cartilage breakdown. In healthy dogs, obesity can predispose them to earlier development of osteoarthritis, as well as many other diseases. If your dog is overweight or obese, your veterinarian is your best resource to help you begin a diet and exercise plan to improve your dog’s health.

If your older dog is showing signs of osteoarthritis you’ll want to help him feel better as quickly as possible – as well as work to slow down the progress of the disease. There are lots of simple things you can do, and changes you can make, at home that will help him feel more comfortable. Also, certain medications and natural supplements can relieve pain, increase joint mobility, reduce inflammation and more. To learn more about the treatment options for canine osteoarthritis check out this page…. Osteoarthritis | Early Signs In Labrador Retrievers

 

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Source References: By Abbie Deleers LVT, June 2021
Story by: Abbie Deleers LVT, http://vettechswithoutborders.org/