Arthritis cannot currently be cured. It remains a progressive disease that leads to immobility, pain and a decrease in quality of life. The best we can do is attempt to diagnose it early, treat it effectively, and put into place lifestyle changes that do not exacerbate the complex condition. We can influence its prevalence though, by only buying puppies from reputable breeders that work hard to minimise the tendency towards arthritis. We can also minimise its progression by reducing exacerbating factors such as slippery floors, lots of stairs, heavy walks, and inappropriate nutrition when young. On top of that, we can use new and exciting ways to attempt to biologically control the negative inflammation within the joint that leads to arthritis, using good quality, reliable supplements, disease modifying drugs and progressive joint medications. We can ensure that the major negative side-effect of arthritis, pain, is well controlled for the rest of the dog’s life. Arthritis is a very debilitating disease in humans and dogs, and research into it continues. Maybe one day we will know how to cure it, but for now the best we can offer is:
- Early identification of signs
- Thorough examination and investigations to diagnose the problem early
- Identification and use of indicators of chronic pain, to tailor pain control to the individual dog
- Adjustments to bodyweight, lifestyle and home life, to minimise deterioration
- Early introduction of potentially disease modifying medications and nutritional supplements
- Combining different approaches to control the pain and progression of arthritis
- Encouraging owners to change the way they deal with it as the disease changes.
Having to say goodbye due to quality of life issues? This will mean that the grief of losing your dog will be close to the grief of losing a close family member which emphasises how emotionally difficult it can be for that owner.