Did you know that 0steoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of lameness in dogs? Did you know that approximately 80% of dogs over the age of 8 suffer from OA? The signs of OA are often very subtle and can easily be overlooked, but unfortunately this condition is the leading cause of premature euthanasia in older dogs. However, with early detection and careful management, you can easily manage your dog’s OA to relieve their pain and greatly improve their quality of life.

So, what actually IS osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is a slow developing, incurable disease. It is the inflammation or degradation of cartilage in the joints, often caused by wear and tear. The most commonly affected joints are high moving, these include the elbow, knee, shoulder and hip joints. However, any joint in the body can be affected.

Signs your dog may be suffering from OA:
  • Difficulty getting up after sitting or lying down
  • Struggling to jump up on furniture or into the car
  • Being more reluctant to go for their walks or to play
  • Looking ‘stiff’ or lame
  • Excessively licking joints
  • Mood changing, such as your dog seeming irritable, worried, or growling
What can you do?

The first step is to see your vet. They will be able to examine your dog and make a correct diagnosis. After this, dogs are commonly put onto non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to provide your dog with pain relief. Other medicines may also be suggested, including joint supplements, such as Yumove or Antinol capsules, which help protect the cartilage in your dog’s joints.

Complementary therapies

Your vet may also advise you on useful alternative therapies. This is where Lifeworks by Rio comes in! Lifeworks by Rio provides hydrotherapy and physiotherapy, both of which are very beneficial for dogs with OA. Hydrotherapy uses the buoyancy of the water to support the dog’s weight, thus reducing the weight they put through their inflamed and sore joints. It uses the hydrostatic forces of the water to apply pressure to the dog’s limbs, which reduces swelling and oedema. The increased resistance of the water also helps to build muscle mass to help support the joints and keep your dog moving as much as possible. This exercise will also help if your dog is carrying a bit too much extra weight, as this can often make the effects of OA worse.

Physiotherapy can also help keep your dog fit and strong. We can use a variety of techniques including manual therapies, such as massage, electrotherapies, range of motion techniques and home exercise programmes to maintain your dog’s mobility. It is hugely beneficial and aims to improve mobility, restore normal function, and relieve pain by improving muscle strength, muscle stamina and joint range of motion. Simple, quick exercises will be prescribed that can be fitted into your daily routine can improve your dog’s muscle strength and mass, as well as energy levels.

Therefore, with a combination of different treatments, you can help manage your dog’s condition and they can continue to live a happy and comfortable life with their osteoarthritis. For more information on OA, feel free to get in touch and discuss it with us or have a look at the canine arthritis management website www.caninearthritis.co.uk.

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