Arthritis is common in people as nearly 50% of the people over 65 years of age are affected. Our pets, especially older dogs and horses, are also commonly affected with arthritis as they are living longer than ever before. The number of dogs with arthritis doubles after dogs reach 7 years of age. Many people with older dogs believe they are getting around slower just because of normal old age aches and pains, while many of these dogs, probably at least half, are actually suffering from arthritis and are not being treated. Symptoms of arthritis at first are slight stiffness in the morning, reluctance to walk, and difficulty rising. These symptoms should tell you that your dog is having a problem and a veterinary visit is recommended.
If your vet determines arthritis is present, we now have excellent medications specifically designed and approved for canine arthritis. Over the counter drugs used for people such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen should not be used in dogs. These drugs can be toxic in dogs depending on the dose so again aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen should not be used in your dog. Exercise such as walking and swimming are good for arthritis as it helps to decrease weight and improve muscle tone. As far as weight, this is the number one thing you can do to help your pet. At least 50% of the arthritic dogs we see in our practice would not need any arthritis pain medication if they would just lose the extra weight. This can only be done with a veterinary plan of a reduced calorie food as the over the counter foods are not low enough in calories for weight loss to occur and the diet will not be effective.