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Understanding osteoarthritis in dogs
Dogs and humans suffer from a number of similar conditions, and arthritis is one of them. Older dogs tend to suffer from osteoarthritis, which is caused by a problem in the bones. However, canine arthritis can also be caused by a septic or bacterial infection, or even by an immune malfunction, which is referred to as rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the bones gives way for a number of reasons. This cushioning between the bones in the dog's joints can dry out, roughen or chip, allowing the bones to rub against each other. However, they don't rub smoothly – the exposed bone flattens and loses its resilience, making it jerky and creaky. This sounds bad enough, but because this is abnormal to the body, it sends white blood cells to the joint to repair the damage. However, instead of repairing, these cells release enzymes and free radicals that make matters worse. The only thing left to help is the synovial fluid, but this substance loses viscosity because the white blood cells' enzymes are damaging it, making it impossible for it to resist the compression of the joints or provide any lubrication. Inflammation ensues, and your pet may have trouble walking, running and enjoying other activities it used to love. This may cause it to become overweight, which only
exacerbates the problem.
Treatment. If your dog seems lame, stiff or otherwise uninterested in its favorite movement-related activities, you should bring it to the vet to discuss arthritis. Once your vet has determined that osteoarthritis is the cause of your pet's behavior and discomfort, he or she may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Previcox or Metacam to treat the pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids are other pet drugs that may help the condition. Medications like Prednisone and Denosyl might help by mimicking the corticosteroids that naturally exist in warm-blooded animals.
Prevention. If you have a large breed dog, you may consider starting it on a joint supplement before it develops any signs of arthritis. Giving it supplements like Cosequin for Dogs, Super Joint Enhancer or Glyco-Flex III may help the dog. These products contain ingredients like glucosamine for dogs, which is a natural compound found in healthy cartilage.