Management of arthritis
Medical treatment of hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis has greatly improved in the last several years thanks to the introduction and approval of several new supplements and drugs. Because hip dysplasia (and other types of dysplasias) are primarily inherited conditions, there are no products on the market that prevent their development. Through proper diet, exercise, supplements, anti-inflammatories, and pain relief, you may be able to decrease the progression of degenerative joint disease, but the looseness in the joint or bony changes will not change significantly.
Medical management is indicated for both young dogs with clinical signs and for older dogs with chronic osteoarthritis. Because of the high cost involved with many surgeries, medical management is many times the only realistic option for many pet owners. Medical management is multifaceted. For the best results, several of the following modalities should be instituted. For most animals, veterinarians begin with the first recommendations and work their way down this list as needed to control the pain and inflammation associated with degenerative joint disease.
Weight management is the first thing that must be addressed. All surgical and medical procedures will be more beneficial if the animal is not overweight. Considering that up to half of the pets in the U.S. are overweight, there is a fair chance that many of the dogs with hip dysplasia/osteoarthritis are also overweight. Helping a dog lose pounds until he reaches his recommended weight, and keeping it there, may be the most important thing an owner can do for a pet. However, this may be the hardest part of the treatment, but it is worth it. You, as the owner, have control over what your dog eats. If you feed an appropriate food at an appropriate level and keep treats to a minimum, your dog will lose weight.
Exercise is the next important step. Exercise that provides for good range of motion and muscle building and limits wear and tear on the joints is the best. Leash walking, swimming, walking on treadmills, slow jogging, and going up and down stairs are excellent low-impact exercises. An exercise program should be individualized for each dog based on the severity of the osteoarthritis, weight, and condition of the dog. In general, too little exercise can be more detrimental than too much, however the wrong type of exercise can cause harm. While watching a dog play Frisbee is very enjoyable and fun for the dog, it is very hard on a dog's joints. Remember, it is important to exercise daily; only exercising on weekends, for instance, may cause more harm than good if the animal is sore for the rest of the week and reluctant to move at all. Warming the muscles prior to exercise and following exercise with a "warm-down" period are beneficial. Consult with your veterinarian regarding an exercise program appropriate for your dog.
Warmth and good sleeping areas
Most people with arthritis find that the signs tend to worsen in cold, damp weather. Keeping your pet warm, may help him be more comfortable. A pet sweater will help keep joints warmer. You may want to consider keeping the temperature in your home a little warmer, too.
Providing a firm, orthopedic foam bed helps many dogs with arthritis. Beds with dome-shaped, orthopedic foam distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure on joints. They are also much easier for the pet to get out of. Place the bed in a warm spot away from drafts.
Massage and physical therapy
Your veterinarian or the veterinary staff can show you how to perform physical therapy and massage on your dog to help relax stiff muscles and promote a good range of motion in the joints. Remember, your dog is in pain, so start slowly and build trust. Start by petting the area and work up to gently kneading the muscles around the joint with your fingertips using a small, circular motion. Gradually work your way out to the surrounding muscles. Moist heat is also beneficial.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Glucosamine and chondroitin are two ingredients of supplements that have become widely used in treating both animals and humans for osteoarthritis. Due to the overwhelming success in treating patients with osteoarthritis, these products have come to the forefront of therapy and are becoming the most popular products for managing arthritis today.
Glucosamine is the major sugar found in glycosaminoglycans and hyaluronate, which are important building blocks in the synthesis and maintenance of cartilage in the joint. Chondroitin enhances the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans and inhibits damaging enzymes in the joint.
When a dog has hip dysplasia or other osteoarthritis, the joint wears abnormally and the protective cartilage on the surface of the joint gets worn away and the resultant bone-to-bone contact creates pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin give the cartilage-forming cells (chondrocytes) the building blocks they need to synthesize new cartilage and to repair the existing damaged cartilage. These products are not painkillers; they work by actually healing the damage that has been done. These products generally take at least six weeks to begin to heal the cartilage and most animals need to be maintained on these products the rest of their lives to prevent further cartilage breakdown. These products are very safe and show very few side effects.
There are many different glucosamine/chondroitin products on the market, but they are not all created equal. Find the one that works for your dog, give Doggone Best Products Advanced Joint Supplement a try.