Arthritis is the main cause of chronic pain and disability for dogs and cats and other animals. It is estimated that about 80% of older dogs and 20% of young dogs suffer from chronic pain caused mainly by arthritis. The problem with arthritis is that the cartilage which covers the end of the bones wears away and breaks down. Without this cartilage to protect the end of the bones, they start rubbing together, which causes pain and stiffness.
It's important to know that arthritis starts a couple years before you notice any symptoms. The cartilage has no nerve endings so the doggies don't feel when the cartilage is wearing away. They start feeling pain when the cartilage has worn away in areas and the bones now are rubbing together. The bones have many nerve endings and that's what causes pain.
As the cartilage wears away, the body, in order to protect the bones from impact, will start producing more bone on the bare areas, this causes deformities and bone spurs. These bones spurs can start tugging on the cover of the bones which is called the periosteum and that also causes quite a bit of pain.
Arthritis can be divided in primary arthritis and secondary arthritis. Primary arthritis is the most common form of arthritis, it occurs mainly in older dogs, we don’t know the cause but overweight and obesity tends to be great influencing factors for this type of arthritis to develop.
Secondary arthritis is as the name says, secondary to other problems including anatomical malformations like hip dysplasia, injuries such as an ACL tear, fractures, surgeries and sometimes infectious diseases such as septic infections of the joint or Lyme disease.
With secondary arthritis the cause has to be addressed first. With primary arthritis the key is prevention. I'm going to talk a lot more about that, but I'm also going to talk about treatment because if your pet has advanced arthritis and all the cartilage in a joint is gone, there is not much hope for a cure but he or she can still improve quite a bit if you do what is recommended.....
Stay tuned for more...
Dr. Ana Falk