September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, which gives us the perfect opportunity to talk about pain in older pets.
Is your dog slower at getting up from a sitting or lying down position? Although your pet may be able to “warm up” and seem better, there is likely some pain and inflammation going on in his/her joints causing this hesitation. Older dogs are at the highest risk for osteoarthritis. One of every two dogs over the age of 10 years of age is affected.
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints but osteoarthritis is the term referring to a form of chronic joint inflammation caused by deterioration of joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis can also be referred to as OA or DJD (degenerative joint disease).
Some symptoms of OA are decreased levels of activity, occasional limping or stiffness that can worsen with exercise. These symptoms may increase with exercise, long periods of inactivity, or cold weather. This can result in a reduced quality of life and prevent your dog from fully participating in the everyday activities that he/she loves.
Typically DJD is caused by secondary trauma, abnormal wear on joints and cartilage, or a congenital defect present at birth such as an improperly formed hip (this is also known as hip dysplasia).
Overweight dogs are at a higher risk for developing OA and tend to develop it earlier in life. Many of the larger breed dogs are genetically predisposed to degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis.
A physical examination and a good thorough history from the owner can usually provide us enough information to provide a diagnosis but radiographs are sometimes needed.
OA can affect any joint of your dog’s body, however, typically it is found in the hips, elbows, lower back, knees and forearms.
After your dog is examined and diagnosed depending on the severity of pain and discomfort the doctor may prescribe an oral or injectable glucosamine medications and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. The doctor may also want to run some preliminary blood work before starting your pet on any long term medications. These medications have had great success in getting patients to feel much better and greatly improve their quality of life.
If you think your dog may be showing any signs of Osteoarthritis or pain, please call our office to make an appointment at (830) 625-8074!