Arthritis may come in many forms for dogs and cats. The most common form however, is osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease (DJD). As the name indicates, this type of arthritis is a long-term, continual damage and deterioration of the cartilage found around the joints.
Osteoarthritis can manifest as a primary disease brought about through normal wear and tear of the joints in an ageing pet or it may occur as a secondary disease brought on by trauma, abnormal wear and tear of the joints or cartilage or an inherited defect on bone formation in the joint.
Some other causes of secondary osteoarthritis may include:
- Abnormal development of joints, commonly the hip or elbow (exacerbated by irregular growth and development, as well as vaccine reactions)
- Dislocation of the kneecap or subluxation of the kneecap or shoulder
- Osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), a condition in which a flap of cartilage develops abnormally within the joint
- Obesity, which increases stress on the joints
- Prolonged steroid therapy
- Excessive laxity (looseness) of the joints
Some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis vary and may include:
- a lower activity level
- occasional lameness or limping
- your pet is stiff after exercise or long periods of activity
- appears to struggle to jump up onto the bed or climb stairs or move around especially during winter or colder weather.
Sorting Facts from Fiction About Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis can be a scary diagnosis to hear, especially if you are worried about your pet being in pain all the time. The good news is that with education and a treatment plan, these pets can live long, happy lives.
Veterinary surgeon and rehabilitation specialist Dr Denis Marcellin-Little (DEDV, DACVS, DACVSMR and professor of orthopaedics at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine) notes that there are at least 3 common misconceptions about osteoarthritis (1):
Myth No. 1 — Osteoarthritis only affects older dogs.
Many people don’t realize that osteoarthritis has some genetic component and has more to do with a dog’s development and upbringing than normal wear and tear on the joints of the body.
In fact, most joint degeneration often begins when puppies experience a rapid growth spurt during the first 4 to 6 months of life.
“Although it’s present early on, it tends to pass under the radar for years and be diagnosed only when its impact is much more profound later in life.”
~ Dr Denis Marcellin-Little
It is highly recommended that you feed a good quality nutritionally balanced diet especially for large breed puppies (early and late growth) to protect their joints.
Myth No. 2 — Dogs with OA shouldn’t be physically active.
Actually, the complete opposite is very true! It may be tempting to let pets with osteoarthritis take it easy but exercise and activity are tremendously important in helping dogs (and people) slow down the progression of the disease.
Exercise is one of the most powerful weapons against the disease. Studies show that people with osteoarthritis who exercise regularly are less depressed, less anxious, need less medication, function and feel better. The same is true for our pets.
Myth No. 3 — OA is a long-term death sentence.
Dogs with a degenerative joint disease can enjoy long, full, good-quality lives. This is particularly true when their condition is diagnosed early and managed effectively.
“Osteoarthritis can be managed very effectively over the long term, particularly if it’s diagnosed early and if the dog is engaging in regular activity and staying strong”
~ Dr Denis Marcellin-Little
Keeping your pet active and well-conditioned is a priority. Regularly monitor the mobility and comfort of your dog’s joints and communicate this with your veterinarian or physiotherapist. In this way, you may adjust any treatment protocol timeously as needed.
Treatment protocols should include:
Chondroprotective agents are agents or actives that protect the joints.
The breakthrough research undertaken with Sashas Blend provides a greater understanding of the anti-inflammatory, chondroprotective and pain relieving properties of Sashas Blend making it a complete joint health product essential for pets with arthritis (2). Chondroprotective Agents slow the rate of cartilage degeneration. This is one of the critical elements of Sashas Blend along with its ability to effectively manage pain and inflammation reducing and many times eliminating the need for painkilling medications.
Animal Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation facilities produce excellent results for strengthening lean muscle, providing exercise and mobility and managing pain.
 Anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects of nutraceuticals fro Sashas Blend in a cartilage explant model of inflammation. (51, 1020 – 1030)Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 2007. Pearson. W., Orth, M.W. Karrow, N.A. Lindinger, M.I.