Arthritis is a condition where a joint becomes swollen and inflammed. This inflammation typically causes the body to lay down additional bone to try to stabilize the joint. It can affect any joint but typically we think Hip Dysplacia. Many pets get arthritis in their backs as discs get compressed and the body tries to fuse the vertebrae together.
Their are two types of arthritis:
- Primary - like Rheumatoid Arthritis where the immune system attacks healthy joints. This type is very uncommon in pets, but as with people it is devastating and progresses quickly.
- Secondary - Osteoarthritis; where the cartilage gets damaged from the bones hitting together. This stimulates the release of histamines which cause inflammation, and trigger increased blood supply to try to repair the damage. The problem comes in when new bone is laid down around the joint to try to stabilize it. This new bone has no cartilage to protect it and continues to be damaged; resulting in pain and more inflammation.
While arthritis normally affects older dogs, and worsens with age, dogs of any age can have it.
• Auto-immune diseases (the immune system attacks its own body)
• Old age
• Disease: hip dysplasia, ligament rupture, joint infection
• Painful joints
• Swollen joints
• Joint stiffness
• Lameness, taking longer to get to its feet, unable to jump or climb
• Loss of appetite
In order to properly diagnose your dog with arthritis, your veterinarian will begin with the following:
• Review of medical history
• Physical exam: flexing the joints and listening for abnormal joint sounds, as well as looking for swelling or heat in your dog's limbs
You veterinarian may also perform the following tests:
• CBC blood test(complete blood count): measures the total amount of red and white blood cells in the body
• X-rays of the affected areas: to determine the type of arthritis
• Joint Tap: draining and studying joint fluid
The course of treatment depends mainly on what is causing the disease.
• Dietary supplements: stimulates new cartilage growth in the joints and can alleviate some discomfort
• Veterinarian-developed exercise routine: too much exercise for an arthritic dog can cause severe pain; however, too little exercise will make your dog's joints even stiffer
- • Medications: long-term steroids and anti-inflammatory use may alleviate the symptoms
• Infection: antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications
• Obesity: diet change
We currently offer a class IV Laser which promotes healing of tissues while reducing inflammation
Stem Cell Surgery
We also are one of the only Veterinarians in Pinellas county to offer MediVet Stem Cell Surgery. In this procedure we are able to remove some of your dogs own stem cells from fat in their abdomen. We then activate the stem cells and inject them into the joint to grow new cartiage. This is truly cutting edge technology.
Braces: The Hipster is a prototype harness for dogs designed to promote hind leg muscle development and help dogs with hip dysplasia.
If treatments are not helping the pain: Surgery: fragments of cartilage or bone in the joint can be removed to decrease swelling, and in extremely painful cases, the affected joint may be removed, or in young pups 7-8 mo old with hip dysplasia their is a surgical procedure to help the ball of the femur fit into the hip socket.
There is no proven prevention. It is recommended to control large breed puppies rapid growth phases as we feel the bones grow so fast the muscles pull the joints apart creating the laxity which leads to arthritis. Vitamin C has also been recommended as a natural antiinflammatory to help prevent arthritis. And finally the Joint supplements we recommend help decrease inflammation and provide the building blocks to repair damage early.
There is no cure for arthritis, but your veterinarian can give you treatment options so you dog can live a comfortable life. You should pay attention to your dog's movements, as catching arthritis early leaves more options for your dog to live comfortably.