Anterior cruciate ligament tears and osteoarthritis are not uncommon in dogs, but they are particularly common in certain breeds than in others. All that jumping and running can, and does, take its toll on our beloved canine friends at times. As a result, we are often left with a number of questions and worries when it does happen. This list of common questions and answers should address at least some of them.
What are the Reasons Responsible for Joint Problems?
The reasons could either be developmental or degenerative; which means that problems like hip or elbow dysplasia are often the result of improper joint growth after birth. They can be congenital or brought on by external factors. Degenerative disorders, like osteoarthritis, are more common in older dogs and happen when the ligaments degenerate enough to make the bones unstable.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Joint Problems?
- Inactivity and difficulty with even regular activities
- Unwillingness to go on walks or runs
- Unwillingness to play
- Awkward and slow walking
- Holding a limb up
- Debilitating pain in the latter stages
What are the Treatment Options?
Although surgical procedures like arthroscopic joint cleaning and joint replacement might be necessary (especially in the latter stages) in some cases, it isn’t always the only option. If your dog is a non-surgical candidate, the veterinarian might suggest multiple of the following preventive, protective and healing measures:
- Weight management to reduce pressure on the joints
- Reduction of fat to bring down joint inflammation
- Use of analgesics, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, dietary supplements, vitamins, etc.
- Use of dog knee braces to provide the support necessary for expediting the healing process of the joint
- Physical therapy (ultrasound therapy, electric stimulation, etc.)
Can it be Prevented?
Even though there are no guarantees, certain measures can indeed lower the risks of your dog developing joint issues in the future.
- Don’t feed your dog fatty food or too much of any food that can cause obesity
- Take the dog out for regular exercise
- Ask the veterinarian to keep a tab on the dog’s joint health with regular checkups
Are Some Breeds More Susceptible to Joint Problems than Others?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes, certain breeds like Newfoundlands, Rottweilers and Bernese mountain dogs are particularly susceptible to cruciate ligament disease, knee/elbow problems and elbow dysplasia than others. If your dog belongs to any of these breeds, you will need to be extra cautious. Generally, though, the bigger the breed, the higher the risks of the dog developing joint issues. Alternatively, if you have a smaller breed, you will also need to be careful with its weight. The small limbs and tiny joints of your toy spaniel were never meant to withstand the pressure that a lot of extra weight would put them through.
Hopefully, this article has managed to answer some of the preliminary questions that you might have regarding canine joint problems. The most important thing is to be wary of the symptoms, because the faster it’s diagnosed, the easier and cheaper it is to treat the problem without any complications.