By: Dr. Christoper Durin
In human medicine, a grading system is used to assess the severity of arthritis in human patients. In my veterinary practice, I have formulated a similar system for dog arthritis. I use four grades: one refers to the early onset of the disease and four describes the most advanced stages and signs. I find this grading system quite helpful because my clients can have a better understanding of their dog’s condition. In addition, I use it as guide when I recommend treatments. The following will be a brief description of the four grades along with their corresponding treatment options:
Grade 1 Dog Arthritis: This stage describes the beginning of dog arthritis. The damage to the cartilage is very small. X-rays and endoscopy will only reveal the softening of the cartilage tissue. Your dog will experience pain but it will be mild and will have little trouble concealing it.
Treatment: Weight loss, Physical therapy, Dietary supplements such as SAM-e, Low molecular weight chondroitin, and Glucosamine HCL), and preventive surgery (for dogs having and orthopedic condition).
Grade 2 Dog Arthritis: X-rays and endoscopy will reveal the beginnings of cracks in the cartilage and the growth of bone spurs. Your dog will be experiencing some intermittent mild lameness. Your dog will be experiencing some pain especially when the arthritic joint is touched. The joints will be slightly inflamed.
Treatment: Grade 1 dog arthritis treatments, Tramadol, and dietary supplements (Fish oil omega-3 and more)
Grade 3 Dog Arthritis: This grade refers to moderate to severe dog arthritis. X-rays and endoscopy will reveal bone spurs, thick fissures in the cartilage, and scar tissue around the joints. Your dog will be experiencing chronic pain and inflammation. The lameness will be more frequent and more pronounced.
Treatment: Grade 1 and 2 dog arthritis treatments, Neuropathic pain medicines (NMDA antagonists), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and more dietary supplements (anti-oxidants can help, as well as others).
Grade 4 Dog Arthritis: This grade refers to advanced dog arthritis. Your dog will most likely be near paralyzed because of intense chronic pain and inflammation of the joints. X-rays and endoscopy will show large bone spurs, extensive cartilage loss, “bone to bone” contact, and dense scar tissue around the affected joints.
Treatment: Grade 1, 2, and 3 dog arthritis as well as heavy duty treatments such as stem cell therapy or cortisone injections. There is a LOT more that can be done but you need to be careful of the side effects and that you do not get confused by the amazing variety of supplements available.
If you are interested in finding out more you should start by downloading my ebook "The Risks of Prescription Medicines in Dog Arthritis" which you can pick up for free from: http://www.dogarthritisplan.com Wishing your dog the very best of health! Dr. Christoper Durin is a veterinarian and creator of Dog Arthritis Blog, the authority site for dog arthritis.