In this article we are going to look at arthritis in Labradors. Giving you the information you need on the causes of arthritis in dogs, dog arthritis symptoms, preventions and arthritis medicine for dogs.
We will focus in on glucosamine for dogs, and let you know whether it’s an option you should be considering.
Along with giving you some great care tips, for keeping an arthritic dog comfortable at home.
What Is Canine Arthritis?
Arthritis is simply a term to describe inflammation of the joints.
It can occur in any of the joints in your dog’s body, and is fairly common, especially in older pets.
The hip joint takes quite a pounding in both dogs and man, being at the upper end of the body’s major muscles for movement.
Arthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage within a joint becomes rougher, causing the bones to rub together.
This can happen for a number of reasons.
Causes Of Arthritis In Dogs
As joints age, they are subject to a certain amount of wear and tear.
This wear and tear in the joint is the most common cause of the pain and inflammation that we call arthritis.
But it can be caused by other things in younger dogs, such as trauma from injury or problems with your dog’s immune system.
Whilst a certain amount of wear and tear always takes place, severe arthritis is not inevitable.
And there are steps you can take to help prevent your dog getting arthritic and stiff in his old age.
Preventing Dog Arthritis
Whilst old age is inevitable, there are some ways that you can prevent or delay the onset of arthritis in dogs.
One of these ways is through weight control.
Body weight is a massive factor in arthritis. Slim Labradors are less likely to get arthritis than fat ones.
This is something you can actively help with.
Obesity in Labradors is a growing problem. And it’s one that we as owners have complete control over.
By ignoring those puppy dog eyes, and not giving in to their adorable woeful stares, you could be seriously improving your Lab’s quality of life.
Your dog may well be hungry, but that does not necessarily mean he needs to eat.
Try and distract him with some activity and ignore the fact that he is following you around with his dinner bowl in his mouth.
He’ll thank you for it later when he is still zipping about at fourteen years old, instead of crying in pain when he gets up in the morning.
If you are worried about your Labrador’s weight, then check out this article, which is packed full of helpful tips and advice for doggy weight loss.
Hip Dysplasia & Arthritis In Dogs
Labradors are one of the breeds who are unfortunately quite likely to suffer from hip dysplasia.
You can reduce the chances of your puppy suffering from this disease by only buying a dog from parents with low hip scores.
This does not entirely remove the risk however.
Conditions like hip dysplasia, where there is an existing deformity of the hip joint, puts the dog at increased risk of arthritis.
It is therefore even more important that you care for him in a way to help reduce the chances of it developing, by keeping his weight down and not over exercising.
If your Labrador has hip dysplasia do consult your vet on the best way of caring for his hips, before he gets old and creaky.
Dog Foot Care
Another way to help your dog’s joints stay healthy is to keep his feet in a good condition.
Clipping his toenails so that they don’t distort his normal walking and running gait will help to maintain his joint health.
Dog Arthritis Symptoms
As your dog ages, it pays to be aware of the possible symptoms of arthritis.
This means that you will be able to give him the best possible care and take him to the vet during the early stages, rather than waiting for him to become more uncomfortable.
The following can be signs of canine arthritis:
• Favouring other limbs
• Difficulty moving
• Stiffness of movement
• Swollen joint
• Hunched back
• Increased sleep
• Reluctance to be petted
• Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
• Difficulty standing up or laying down
Remember, if you see any of the above in your dog then pay a visit to the vet.
Some symptoms shown can be signs of other issues, especially is displayed in younger dogs. It is better safe than sorry.
Diagnosing Canine Arthritis
Your vet will be able to let you know whether your dog is suffering from canine arthritis by examining him and taking x-rays.
If you suspect your older dog is developing arthritis do have him checked over by the vet, there are other diseases and injuries that can cause lameness, stiffness and pain, and it may be that your dog simply has a minor injury that needs a little rest.
If the veterinarian suspects there may be another cause behind the arthritis, they may also take a sample of joint fluid or carry out blood tests to rule these out as well.
Arthritis Medicine For Dogs
NSAIDS are drugs used to treat the inflammation and pain of arthritis in people and animals. But it is really important that you do not give your dog NSAIDS intended for people.
Ibuprophen for example is a popular NSAID for treatment of humans and is toxic to dogs!
Arthritis medicine for dogs is specially formulated to relieve their pain without causing them further problems.
Your vet will be able to prescribe effective painkillers to keep your old friend happy and active for as long as possible.
They may also suggest nutraceuticals, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, in the hopes that they will improve cartilage repair.
Glucosamine For Dogs
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that was thought to promote the repair of joint cartilage.
Some studies in people have produced conflicting results, but the consensus in the veterinary literature is that glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate together will help reduce pain and swelling and may help repair damaged cartilage.
You can order dog glucosamine online and buy it in pet shops. (But make sure that you don’t use the human variety).
Ask your vet if you are not sure whether this would be suitable for your dog.
What Can I Give My Dog For Pain?
When your dog is in pain or discomfort, it is perfectly natural to want to do everything in your power to help them.
The best arthritis medicine for dogs is that which is prescribed by their own veterinarian. They will know what to give them to best reduce their pain and discomfort.
Try to avoid untested remedies online which might cause your dog more problems than they will solve.
Although it’s frustrating to not be able to do anything further to medicate your dog, there are some things you can do at home to help them get more comfortable.
Dog Arthritis Treatment
If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, then your veterinarian will prescribe you appropriate medication to help them manage the pain.
But you can do plenty of things to help them live a more comfortable life with you at home.
Orthopedic Dog Bed
Designed just for larger, older dogs who have joint problems.
They usually have memory foam mattresses, and thick bases.
To give your dog support and comfort whilst he rests.
This therapeutic, deluxe dog bed is a great size for even the biggest Labrador to stretch out and get comfortable on.
Raised Dog Bowls
Raised dog bowls can make it easier for a Labrador with joint pain to enjoy his meal or drinks in comfort.
Please remember that raised dog bowls are not however recommended for younger dogs or those who eat their meals very quickly, as they have been linked to cases of Bloat in dogs.
If you are unsure whether an elevated dog bowl would be an appropriate choice for your Labrador then have a chat with your vet before you shop for one.
Finally, if you live up a flight of steps or have a high vehicle you need your Labrador to get in and out of, then you might like to consider a dog ramp.
You don’t have to worry about putting permanent structures around your home, or attaching unsightly features to your car.
You can buy some great, convenient fold out ramps , which can be discreetly stored when not in use.
Ideal for the Labrador who is having a tough time moving up and down, and could do with a helping hand.
Exercising A Dog With Arthritis
If your dog has arthritis they will find exercise harder work, but it is important that they stay active.
Take shorter walks, with less uphill climbs, and give special attention to how your dog is acting.
If he starts to limp more or slows down, then accommodate his pace.
One of the best ways for an arthritic dog to exercise is by swimming.
You might even find a local canine hydrotherapy pool that you can take him too for regular dips.
Does Your Dog Have Arthritis?
Have you any tips for your readers, ways to make your dog more comfortable, things that help relieve joint stiffness.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
More information on Labradors
If you’d like all of our best Labrador information together in one place, then get your copy of The Labrador Handbook today.
The Labrador Handbook covers every stage of your Labradors life, including a focused look on how to best care for your elderly dog.
The Labrador Handbook is available worldwide.