Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative condition in dogs that becomes more severe over time. There's no cure for this painful condition, however, our New Ulm vets offer some information on how you can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis in your dog by scheduling laser therapy.
Osteoarthritis & Your Dog
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in dogs and is a degenerative joint disorder that leads to a permanent deterioration of the cartilage that provides cushioning for the joints. This painful condition is estimated to affect about a quarter of all dogs throughout their lifetime.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
The painful joints caused by osteoarthritis can lead to a number of tell-tale signs. The main osteoarthritis symptoms in dogs that you may notice include:
- Pain, stiffness, and lameness
- Swollen joints
- Refusal to jump, use stairs, or run
- Reluctance to stand
- Lack of enthusiasm for walks or play
- Unusual aggression, whining, or irritability
- Licking at joints
- Slow shuffling walk
Causes of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Although this condition can develop in any breed of dog, it is most often seen in larger breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Rottweilers, and giant breeds.
The actual cause of osteoarthritis is largely unknown but this condition is often associated with underlying issues such as an injury due to trauma, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate injury, or dislocations of the shoulder or knee.
Obesity also appears to play a role in dogs developing osteoarthritis. Excess weight can put unnecessary stress on the dog's joints leading to pain, and degenerative joint issues over time.
Treatments to Help Manage Pain
Osteoarthritis in dogs cannot be reversed or cured. Successful treatment of this condition reduces the pain, helps to slow the ongoing degeneration of the affected joints and allows your dog to live more comfortably, and enjoy a good quality of life as they continue to age.
Often a number of treatments will be used together to achieve pain relief and more comfortable mobility.
Painkillers / Pain Meds
Painkillers such as anti-inflammatories are often prescribed as a long-term treatment for managing your dog’s joint pain and helping to reduce swelling.
Although it may seem counterintuitive exercise is essential for dogs with osteoarthritis. It may be necessary to cut back on exercise when your dog is first diagnosed with osteoarthritis however staying mobile will help your dog to maintain fitness, achieve a healthy weight, relieve joint pain and enjoy a good quality of life.
Exercise will need to be tailored to your dog's overall health and severity of osteoarthritis. Your vet will be sure to recommend the best level of exercise to help relieve your dog's osteoarthritis symptoms.
Managing your dog's weight will be a key element of their treatment for osteoarthritis. Increased weight puts increased stress on your dog's joints so keeping weight at a healthy level will help to minimize the pain caused by the condition.
Your vet may recommend putting your dog on a calorie-reduced diet if their exercise level has been reduced, or a diet supplemented with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids as a way to combat symptoms.
Physical Rehabilitation (Physio for Dogs)
Physical rehabilitation is the name for physiotherapy for dogs and can include a number of treatments that are designed to help reduce pain while strengthening and improving muscle tone, maintaining range of motion and working to improve overall endurance.
Physiotherapy for dogs with osteoarthritis may include one or more of the following treatments: therapeutic exercises, therapeutic ultrasound, cold laser therapy, regenerative therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, underwater treadmill or pool therapy, and massage, combined with conventional treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications.
Ask your vet if there is a qualified Canine Physical Rehabilitation practitioner in your area
In some cases when joint damage is severe your vet may recommend surgery to help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of your dog's osteoarthritis. Surgery may be performed to remove bone fragments that are aggravating the condition or to replace the affected joints.
Veterinary Laser Therapy For Dogs
What are the benefits of veterinary laser therapy?There are many conditions and symptoms that veterinary laser therapy can help with, including:
- Chronic arthritis
- Surgical incisions
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Traumatic injuries
- Pets who suffer from liver disease leaving them unable to take commonly used medications
- Cats that are only able to use specific pain management medications
- Exotic pets that may not be able to have medications administered normally
- Older pets that are unable to be medicated due to decreased organ function
How is veterinary laser therapy used?
Pets typically find veterinary laser therapy to be relaxing as it involves the slow movement of a warm laser over the affected area. Each session may be roughly a half hour or less on average and the frequency and recommended number of treatment sessions will depend on the symptoms and severity.
Is veterinary laser therapy safe for cats & dogs?
When administered by a trained professional veterinary laser therapy is very safe. If used incorrectly there could be further damage to your pet. Protective eyewear should also be worn as the light emitted from the laser can cause damage to sight.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.