Dog Health & More
Friday February 20th, 2009
Arthritis is an inflammation in a joint. It gets worse over time, and may begin as simple morning stiffness and progress to lameness and swollen, painful joints. The good news is that while arthritis is incurable, treatment can make your dog feel a whole lot better.
There are three main types of arthritis, each triggered by different factors:
Osteoarthritis may be a result of age but can also be caused by a joint injury or another condition--such as hip dysplasia or a ruptured cruciate ligament--in younger dogs. Heavy stress on joints, such as jumping over obstacles or strenuous exercise, can also be a culprit. It's common in many large-breed dogs, and overweight dogs are more susceptible because of the increased pressure on their joints.
Immune-mediated arthritis occurs when a dog's antibodies--which should keep him healthy--are instead directed at his own connective tissue. It can result in the destruction of the joint and cartilage, or it may cause only inflammation in the joint.
Infectious arthritis is caused by infectious diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Another cause is bacteria entering the bloodstream from an infected wound.
Your vet can make a diagnosis using X-rays, blood work, and an analysis of joint fluid. X-rays are also important for monitoring the disease's progression and for adjusting treatments to keep your dog as pain-free as possible.
If X-rays indicate a deformed joint is causing the problem, your vet may recommend surgery, which may halt the progression of the disease. Typically, your vet will prescribe medications and painkillers.