Arthritis is a potentially crippling degenerative joint condition that causes pain, inflammation, lost mobility, and depression in dogs with the condition. Unfortunately, arthritis is fairly common in aging dogs, and there is no guaranteed path to prevention. However, by understanding the risk factors and by taking proven preventive measures, you can lower your dog’s risk of developing joint disease.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors for Developing Arthritis in Dogs
Understanding major risk factors for canine arthritis is key to prevention. Unfortunately, certain risk factors, such as genetics, are out of your control. Some dogs have inherited a greater risk for developing arthritis. And, while all breeds can develop the condition, larger animals are the prone. Congenital joint deformities, developmental abnormalities, and immune system irregularities also increase the risk of arthritis. Moreover, arthritis is considerably more common in aging dogs.
Managing Safety to Help Prevent Canine Arthritis
Although aging is a significant risk factor for arthritis in dogs, some injuries make the condition considerably more likely in younger animals. These include bone and joint trauma, ruptured ligaments, and dislocation of the kneecap. You can’t always prevent a pet from getting hurt, but you can definitely take steps to make major injuries less likely.
Make sure your dog can’t get out of the yard, that she’s on a leash when you go for walks, and that she is otherwise not put at unnecessary risk of being struck by a vehicle. Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate exercises and adhere to recommendations for frequency, duration, and level of strenuousness. Dogs can easily get hurt with overexertion.
Also, bacterial infections that affect the bones and joints elevate a dog’s risk for developing arthritis later down the line. Treat infections aggressively and without delay, even when they’re superficial. Without proper treatment, infections do spread.
Keeping your dog safe from ticks will also help prevent arthritis. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other diseases spread by ticks increase an animal’s chances of becoming arthritic. Consult your veterinarian for advice on products that repel and kill ticks. Keep foliage in your yard trimmed to limit the presence of ticks. Check your dog thoroughly and often, especially during warmer weather and after she goes through tall grass or wooded areas. Remove ticks right away with proper technique.
Managing Weight to Help Prevent Arthritis in Dogs
Obesity is the risk factor for canine arthritis most under your control as a pet parent. It also happens to be one of the most significant risk factors. Excess pounds put undue stress on the joints, promote physical deterioration, and otherwise undermine your pet’s health.
Ask your veterinarian how many calories your dog should be eating every day. Remember, this number changes as your dog grows and ages. Buy quality, nutritionally balanced dog food and keep a close eye on how many extra calories you provide in treats, table scraps, and other food outside of regular meals. Also, talk to your veterinarian about physical activity. See to it your dog gets enough exercise to be properly stimulated and to maintain a healthy weight, toned muscles, and strong joints.