Many dogs will eventually suffer from osteoarthritis, a very common painful joint disease. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition in which joint cartilage wears away, especially in older dogs.
Usually, the ends of the bones are covered with smooth cartilage, which allows the skeleton to articulate by making the bones slide against each other. Unfortunately, sometimes this cartilage becomes brittle, and sometimes it disappears completely, causing painful friction during movement.
Why does my dog have arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is very often associated with the aging of the dog. The cartilage will deteriorate little by little throughout life, and osteoarthritis will eventually develop in several joints simultaneously. This is called primary osteoarthritis. However, the causes may be external, and several factors may combine.
Osteoarthritis can be secondary to an old injury or to over-stressing a limb. A rupture of the cruciate ligaments, for example, makes the knee more unstable and can lead to osteoarthritis, even in young dogs.
Similarly, hip dysplasia is a very common factor. This hereditary deformity tends to be phased out by breeding, but it still causes many joint problems, especially in large breed dogs.
Patella luxation is a common cause of osteoarthritis of the knees and is more common in small dogs.
More generally, any deformity or old injury that alters the animal’s posture can over time cause imperceptible friction that will lead to osteoarthritis.
A postural imbalance, or a dog that compensates for an injury by putting more strain on other parts of the body, will almost certainly lead to joint problems.
Also, repeated movements and micro-traumatisms in everyday life can lead to these pathologies, as can intensive sports practice and jumping during the growth period. Being overweight also leads to over-stimulation of the joints. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to joint problems, such as the Labrador, the Golden Retriever and the Rottweiler.
How can I help my dog with osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic and painful disease to deal with on a daily basis, but there are a few things you can do to help your dog live better with it.
First of all, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with sports activities to maintain mobility. This activity must be adapted and stopped at the slightest sign of pain, such as lameness. This disabling disease can create a vicious circle, where the lack of mobility and pain make the dog apathetic and more sedentary, further hindering its mobility.
It will also be important to limit weight gain as much as possible, to avoid putting even more strain on the joints. A specific diet, specially designed to treat joint pain, can be a precious ally, with the addition of chondroprotectors. You will find many dietary supplements on the market that are specifically designed to maintain good joint health.
Your veterinarian can also help you manage the problem, with anti-inflammatory treatments and injections in case of a painful crisis.
Also consider herbal medicine, including soothing balms and collars that release their substances gradually. Some specialized centers offer canine hydrotherapy treatments, where dogs perform aquatic movements to gently mobilize the joints without any shock. These treatments can be judiciously combined with osteopathy sessions.
Osteoarthritis, even if it is chronic, is not painful at rest. The pain occurs with effort, and even more so when cold. Nevertheless, your pet will find some relief when it does not use any joints. You can help your dog enjoy these moments of respite even more by offering him a very comfortable bed. Even better, you can choose an orthopedic bed, specially adapted to his condition, such as a memory foam mattress.
What are the benefits of a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam mattresses contain a special material: viscoelastic foam. Under the effect of body heat, this thermo-reactive foam deforms to adapt to the exact contours of the body. Very resilient, it can reshape itself infinitely, with each change of position of your dog. It provides infinitely more comfort than a conventional mat or mattress, and allows your dog to release tension.
Recommended by veterinarians, memory foam mattresses are the best sleeping solution for dogs with chronic joint pain. It is an ergonomic device adapted to sick animals. The dog no longer needs to look for a comfortable position to relieve its pain, instead the mattress adapts to its anatomy.
As much appreciated by young dogs for an ultra-comfortable sleep, the memory foam mattress seduces seniors because of its numerous health benefits:
- optimal support of the body: it alleviates joint pain related to the decrease in bone density in older dogs. It perfectly fits the animal’s body mass and relieves its different pressure zones (hip, knee, back).
- massage and relaxation: unlike basic mattresses that sink into the ground, the flexibility and elasticity of the memory foam offers a pleasant massage sensation to your dog, which relaxes fully. His pressure points are progressively released and his pain diminishes favorably.
- Relief of bone disease: the memory foam limits the tension on your dog’s spine and his joint problems diminish over time. His overall health improves.
Osteoarthritis in dogs is difficult to manage on a daily basis because it is chronic and disabling. It causes persistent pain and makes dogs less active. Fortunately, many solutions exist, such as memory foam bedding, to relieve pain and make your companion a little more comfortable. Do not hesitate to talk about it with your veterinarian, or to consult a canine osteopath. This natural method allows a global approach to joint problems. It can also prevent osteoarthritis problems in dogs with a postural imbalance. By combining these different actions, you can avoid the appearance of osteoarthritis, or at least limit its consequences on your dog’s daily life.