Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. There are two major categories of arthritis in dogs. The first, called developmental, is due to a joint not developing correctly, leading to problems such as hip and should dysplasia. The second, degenerative, involves joints and ligaments deteriorating over time. Therefore, a dog with arthritis will have more difficulty with everyday activities, such as getting into the car.
Some dogs are more prone than others to arthritis. Generally, larger breeds are predisposed to joint problems because their larger size and weight places greater strain on joints. There are also common breed-specific problems – for example, Bernese mountain dogs often get elbow dysplasia.
Treatments for arthritis in dogs vary from operative to non-operative and can depend on the individual dog’s overall health. Operative treatments could include arthroscopic cleaning of a joint, or even entire joint replacement. On the non-surgical side, weight and body management is crucial; an ideal weight decreases stress on the joints and increased muscle helps protect the joints and increase overall wellness.