I have seen dogs that suffer a lot because of health issues like arthritis. Similarly, i have also seen dogs that lead a comfortable life even with arthritis? Many people worry about their dog when it slows down due to arthritis. They worry a lot because arthritis might make a serious impact on the dog’s life.
But is this true? Does arthritis shorten a dog’s life? How long can a dog live with arthritis?
Let us discuss all the aspects related to arthritis and its impact on your dog’s life. We will also discuss things you could do to prevent dog arthritis and help your dog with arthritis.
How long can a dog live with arthritis?
I have heard many dog owners asking me this question. People get this doubt because many dog owners are worried that arthritis may cut short their dog’s life. They worry that arthritis is a condition with no solution.
They might have heard many things about severe conditions of dog arthritis and euthanasia. Before going deep into these topics, let us have a basic understanding of arthritis in dogs.
What is arthritis in dogs?
In simple words, arthritis in dogs is nothing but inflammation in some areas and the joints of your dog. This is mostly similar to arthritis in humans.
This is a degenerative disease and the cartilage between the joints degenerate. This degeneration increases friction between the joints and causes pain and discomfort to your doggy friend.
Precisely it is an issue related to your dog’s joints. This problem occurs for various reasons and hence arthritis is classified into various types.
Types of arthritis in dogs
As i told you arthritis is classified into various types, all the types of arthritis are not the same. Various issues such as dog injuries, immune system problems and various infections can cause different types of arthritis.
Each of them requires a different mode of approach in treating them. Have a look at the 3 major different forms of arthritis.
This is the most common type of arthritis which you find in most senior dogs. This is caused by continuous degeneration of the cartilage between your dog’s joints. This occurs due to chronic inflammation due to which the joints and bones are affected. This is also known as Degenerative joint arthritis.
2. Septic arthritis
Arthritis that causes inflammation of the cartilage due to various infectious agents is called septic arthritis. The presence of a bacterial infection or fungal infection can lead to this kind of arthritis in your dog.
This occurs when your dog’s immune system mounts an inflammatory response within your dog’s joints
It leads to inflammation, pain and severe discomfort to your dog.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
As your dog cannot explain its underlying health issue, the only way to find out the issue by yourself is by noticing its symptoms. In cases of health issues like arthritis, trying to identify the health issue by noticing its symptoms in the early stages itself can be the best thing to do.
Have you heard of dogs with arthritis undergoing euthanasia, these kinds of cases occur where the disease becomes more severe and progressive. In such cases the damage becomes irreversible.
But if you observe your dog’s symptoms at an early stage, it surely helps to manage the condition rather than pushing your dog into more uncomfortable situations.
Observe if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms or a combination of these symptoms
1. Limping and Lameness
2. Stiffness or difficulty in moving, standing up and laying down
3. Reluctance to play or jump
4. Reluctance in climbing stairs and jumping into the car
5. Sleeping more than usual
6. Warmth or swelling in joints
7. Licking its joints
8. Irritation when touched or petted
9. Favouring other limbs during movement
10. Overall slowing down of the dog
If you observe any of these symptoms, it is necessary to take your dog to your vet right away.
Your vet might make a proper diagnosis of the condition depending upon your dog’s age, its medical history and other factors either by a physical examination or an X-ray if necessary.
What age do dogs get arthritis?
As i have explained to you the above symptoms related to arthritis, do not assume that your dog has arthritis just by looking at the symptoms and without confirmation by your Vet.
Because symptoms such as slowing down and excess sleep might sometimes be an age-related issue.
When we talk about dog arthritis age, there is no exact number to say. Any dog over one year of age has a chance to develop arthritis. But this is a common issue that is seen mostly in middle-aged and senior dogs. Most of the older dogs are affected with arthritis with variations in the degree of severity.
But this does not mean younger dogs do not develop this condition. Younger dogs are at risk of developing arthritis due to injuries of the joints. In many cases, excessive stress and trauma can also lead to degeneration of the joint cartilage.
In some cases, some underlying and inherited diseases such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia can also lead to arthritis during a younger age itself.
Treatment for dog arthritis
There are certain things you could do when you come to know that your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis. But the treatment requires a multi-modal approach rather than a single way of treatment. I will explain to you all the ways and treatment processes that can make the life of an arthritic dog better.
1. Weight reduction
Arthritis is a condition that becomes worse if your dog is overweight. This happens because the extra weight increases the stress on your dog’s joints which have been already affected.
Do you know, slim Labradors are less likely to get affected with arthritis than the fatty ones? Hence weight management is the first step to make your arthritic dog’s life easier.
If your dog is already suffering from arthritis, it is not a wise idea to increase his amount of exercise to achieve weight reduction. In such cases, controlled exercise with a combination of dietary management can help to reduce your dog’s weight. A dog pacer for slow walking can be useful.
Provide your dog with a calorie-restricted diet in order to reduce his overall calorie intake. Please make sure that your dog is not starving. A nutritious diet that helps in your dog’s weight reduction will minimize its joint strain. You can discuss the diet and exercise plan with your vet before implementing it on your dog.
2. Orthopaedic dog beds
When your dog sleeps on the floor or on any other hard surface, there is a constant pressure acting on its joints for a prolonged period of time. In case, if the dog has arthritis, this can worsen the joint damage.
Hence you can provide a supportive orthopaedic bed that will protect your dog’s joints from the constant pressure of the floor. These orthopaedic beds have thicker bases that can provide enough protection and comfort to your dog’s sore joints.
Prevention of further damage and pain reduction can be ensured by using these kinds of beds.
3. Feeding in raised dog bowls
Even though eating and drinking from elevated bowls and elevated platforms is not a part of the natural dog eating style, some studies suggest that feeding dogs with arthritis in elevated bowls can help them eat comfortably.
When food is placed in an elevated bowl, the dog doesn’t need to bend and stretch its joints too much for eating its food. This helps in reducing the strain in its joints.
But remember raised bowls are always not a good option for other healthy and young dogs, as in can cause various complications such as bloat in your dog. Read more about the pros and cons of elevated dog feeders in our detailed article.
3. Using dog ramps
Your dog might have been very active jumping in and out of the car and jumping onto the furniture. But in cases of arthritis, these jumping acts might be difficult and can cause more damage and strain to the affected joints.
But a dog ramp will help dogs with osteoarthritis in these situations. The overall goal is to protect them from getting hurt and damaging their joints any further.
If your dog is a smaller one, it could be easier to carry him whenever it faces difficulty in its movement. But you cannot carry a dog like Labrador all along the stairs or into the car every time. Using a ramp in such situations could be the best solution to offer.
With the help of ramps, your dog can have comfortable access to cars, stairs and couches easily. You can get some great, convenient ramps that can be foldable so that they do not occupy more space while storing them.
4. Right diet and supplements
Providing the right diet and necessary supplements can be the best solution that works well for a dog with arthritis. These dietary measures help in supporting joint health by rebuilding the cartilage. They also stop further deterioration of the damaged cartilage.
Provide your dog with fresh meat and healthy vegetables like cooked cabbage, carrots and greens. Raw meat bones can also be given to support his joint health. Keep your dog’s digestive system healthy by providing him with some probiotics.
Fats must be one of the important ingredients of your dog’s diet. Your dog should be provided with the right combination of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Research shows that certain omega-3s such as EPA and DHA can help in relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs. They are also helpful in decreasing joint inflammation. Hence you can start feeding your dog with some healthy fish.
Antioxidants also play a vital role in protecting your dog against osteoarthritis. They help in boosting your dog’s immune system and fighting free radical damage.
Dietary supplements that help in reducing damage and rebuilding cartilage are highly recommended. Feed your dog with bone broth to support its joint health. The bone broth consists of compounds like glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid that help in protecting joint health.
5. Physical therapies
Physical therapies such as physiotherapy, massages and acupuncture can be used to treat your dog’s painful condition. Massages can be helpful in loosening stiff and sore joints. It can provide relief to your dog both physically and emotionally if performed by a certified practitioner.
Acupuncture for dogs can also bring comfort and relief to those joints. Acupuncture might not be suitable for every dog but depends upon the dog and its condition. It might not be suitable for an aggressive and anxious dog.
Providing hot compresses for short periods have also been producing results and can relieve pain in your dog. It might be worth consulting your vet about the various physical therapies that can help your dog in cases of arthritis.
Should you walk a dog with arthritis?
Many dog owners get this doubt regarding exercising their arthritic dog. They worry if exercises like walking can affect their dog’s condition in a negative way. Actually yes, when you exercise a dog with arthritis in the wrong way, it can make the condition too worse.
Then what about walking. Walking is one of the best low impact exercises for your dog. But walking doesn’t mean a continuous 5-mile walk. The amount of walking should depend upon the health condition of your dog. Whether your dog is able to do it or if it is suffering in pain. It is necessary to analyze the condition of your dog while taking him for a walk.
Some dogs might not be able to perform continuous walking, In such cases, breaks between the walk may be necessary. Other exercises such as hydrotherapy and swimming activities can also be very soothing for your dog’s joints.
How to prevent arthritis in dogs?
As a famous quote says, prevention is better than cure. It is always better to try preventing issues like arthritis rather than trying to manage life with arthritis. But actually, is it possible to prevent arthritis? Yes, preventing arthritis in dogs is possible.
1. There are ways to minimize the risk and make sure that your dog doesn’t get affected by arthritis. The first thing you could do is to check the family history of your puppy while bringing it to your family.
It is essential to check the lineage of your dog and previous cases of joint issues in the dog’s family history. By doing this, you can rule out the genetic factor possibility that causes arthritis.
2. One of the other reasons why your dog could be affected by arthritis is the rapid growth rate of its body. When you feed your dog with excess food or an excessive nutritious diet, it makes the puppy grow too faster than its required growth rate.
This rapid growth cannot be handled by bones that are not fully developed. These feeding mistakes can lead to orthopaedic problems in your dog.
3. In some cases, arthritis may develop due to an underlying injury that has occurred when the dog is young. If those injuries don’t heal properly, they may lead to arthritis in later life.
Hence it is important that your dog gets fully healed from any of those injuries. It is always safe to discourage activities such as excess jumping, excess running before the puppy’s bones and joints are fully matured.
4. A dog that is obese is always at a greater risk of developing arthritis. The extra weight puts excessive strain on a dog’s joints, which results in faster wear and tear of them. Hence it is important to maintain your dog’s healthy weight throughout its life.
5. Always exercise your dog in the required amounts. Take your dog’s health and body capacity into consideration before exercising it. For example, you cannot exercise a bulldog and a Labrador in the same way.
So, proper genetics, nutrition and the required amount of diet along with controlled exercise can help in preventing conditions like arthritis in your dog.
How long can a dog live with osteoarthritis?
Even if it is osteoarthritis or any other form of arthritis, it is not an end-of-life situation for your dog. Many dog owners also ask me this question, can a dog die from arthritis? I clearly say them, No.
Because arthritis is not a fatal condition and it will not affect your dog’s life in a horrible way if handled properly.
Even if your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, various measures that you take will relieve your dog of the painful condition and your dog can lead a normal life too.
Feeding the required diet, giving the required amount of exercise and providing appropriate physical therapies can help your dog with arthritis and your dog can lead a normal happy life like every other dog.