can arthritis be cured
Currently there is no cure for arthritis. There is ongoing research into this widespread, prevalent disease, and new treatment and management options are coming to light all the time, so hopefully one day this will change.
However, until then we must rely on good management and careful monitoring of the condition in order to control the pain and slow disease progression to give our dogs long and comfortable lives.
If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, here are some of the foundational things you should integrate into your long term management plan:
- Build a rapport with your vet practice as they will be there to support you through the journey.
- Discuss your dog’s pain state and whether pain relief is required with your vet. There is a common and wrong belief that introducing pain relief will lead to long term dependency, the medication will eventually stop working, or that the dog will suffer more side effects because of long term medication use. None of these concerns are scientifically sound. In fact, they are incorrect. By using suitable pain control early, you will in fact encourage your dog to use their affected joints and limbs more appropriately. This will off-load the areas of their body that have been working hard to carry the additional load, which will lead to the affected limbs regaining strength and power through use. This will reduce joint instability, which will reduce the abnormal joint forces that lead to the inflammation and pain.
- Attend and actively contribute to reassessment appointments with your vet or vet nurse, so they can support you as your dog’s condition changes.
- Assess your dog’s environment by taking a look at our #ItsMyHomeToo tool and minimise the obstacles they have to navigate with their weaker and less able limbs. This will reduce the risk of further trauma and slow the progression of arthritis.
- Look at your dog's exercise regime and reduce or remove high intensity exercise like playing fetch. These activities create huge impact and torsional forces on joints that are weaker (in fact all joints, not just the weaker ones). Replace these activities with other equally fun activities like scent work, enrichment toys and learning new games and tricks. These activities will distract your dog from their pain, and get the endorphins pumping-which will lead to a reduced perception of pain.
- Make sure that your dog is at their optimal body weight. This is an essential intervention! Being overweight will not only place excessive forces through the affected joints, it can also lead to further joint instability which will significantly worsen the inflammation within the joint and surrounding tissue. This will cause more pain and more rapid progression of the disease.
- Discuss with your vet adding further interventions and create a multimodal management plan. Many different approaches can be used concurrently to manage all the symptoms of the disease. Adding integrative therapies such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy or massage to your dog’s treatment plan will work alongside medications and supplements to improve pain control. It is also likely to have a positive impact on your dog’s physical capabilities over the longer term.
There was a time when the diagnosis of osteoarthritis meant the beginning of progressive incapacity for our canine companions. However, in the past two decades, new scientific advances on several fronts have dramatically changed the likelihood of the inevitable, unstoppable decline to one of hope, continued activity, and pain-free living.