17 February, 2011
By: Dr. Christoper Durin
Most of us would like to think that our dogs will never get sick or grow old, however, it is inevitable. The majority of dog owners sincerely care for the well-being and quality of life of their furry friend, but unfortunately, some of them are unaware of the future needs their pets may have. Dog owners need to gain some background information on some of the diseases that may affect their pets as they get older. The most common geriatric pet disease is dog arthritis. It is important to be properly educated about dog arthritis as there are many misconceptions about it. Here are some of the popular myths around regarding dog arthritis:
- Dog arthritis is just an old dog’s disease. This is partially true. Older dogs are more susceptible to the disease, but thinking that only old dogs can have dog arthritis is dangerous. Take note that research has yet to fully uncover the mechanisms behind this debilitating disease and all we know are some of the factors that can hasten its progress. With this in mind, dogs with hip dysplasia, overweight dogs and even dogs that compete in dog sports events can develop the disease earlier than expected.
- Dog arthritis is easy to diagnose. Human arthritis is easy to diagnose since a person can always complain to the doctor that he or she is experiencing pain when using a certain joint. For dogs, it is a bit more complicated. Dog arthritis is hard to catch in its early stages because dogs instinctively hide their pain. For this reason, dog owners must keep a close eye on any subtle changes in their dog’s mobility. Small modifications in their movement or behavior could mean something is wrong.
- Exercise makes dog arthritis worse. The logic to this myth is simple; dog arthritis affects the joints and when the dog exercises, the joints are used, resulting in more damage to the joints and more pain for the arthritic dog. Now, although exercise can be painful for the arthritic dog, doing nothing will only aid in the progression of the disease. Without exercise, the joints become stiffer, the nutrient flow is decreased and blood flow to the joint significantly drops. Obesity can also set in, which brings a lot of unwanted complications, including an increased amount of pressure of the joints.
- Dog arthritis is part of getting old. There is some truth to this statement. However, harboring such an idea brings the mentality that you can’t do anything about it since it’s just a part of the natural ageing process. Realistically, it is a fate that many dogs will share, but dog arthritis can be effectively managed so that your dog can still enjoy a relatively pain-free life even with the disease.
- Dog arthritis does not need treatment. Dog arthritis does not have a cure. Nonetheless, doing nothing about it is a welfare concern. Dog arthritis causes chronic pain, which can in some cases lead to a poor quality of life. Veterinary medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds in the past decade and now there are many treatment options that can help alleviate the pain and manage the disease’s progress. You should always consult with your veterinarian to confirm the correct diagnosis of dog arthritis and to rule out anything more sinister before pursuing treatment.