Arthritis – The Basics

Other Types of Arthritis

Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joint, but there are different kinds and should not be confused as each requires a different treatment.

A thorough examination by your vet will ensure a correct diagnosis for the best long-term results.

This is the most common form, and the eventual outcome of the other types listed here. Also known as degenerative joint disease, it has many causes such as poorly formed joints (joint incongruity), developmental defects (osteochondrosis), trauma, instability (cruciate ligament rupture) and is very prevalent with 1 in 5 dogs suffering from it.

A key factor in its progression is the slow destruction of the articular cartilage of the joint, and other associated degenerative changes in the joint fluid and capsule and underlying bone.

Key veterinary treatments for this disease are:

  1. Client education on the long term and progressive nature of the disease
  2. Target weight control
  3. Tailored exercise control
  4. Good nutrition
  5. Physiotherapy/manual therapy/complementary therapy
  6. Symptom controlling drugs such as pain relief
  7. Symptom controlling supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids
  8. Cartilage protecting drugs
  9. Potential surgery

This is commonly confused with osteoarthritis, but is a very different condition. The disease is a very destructive/erosive form of arthritis driven by the body’s immune system affecting major joints of the limbs. The exact cause of the immune system targeting the joints is still not clear. It is generally associated with a fever, a more severe generalised stiffness, and multiple symmetrical joint involvement.

Over time the damage to the joints is so great that they become unstable and grotesquely abnormal to the eye.

Key veterinary treatments for this disease are

  1. Early diagnosis of it being an immune mediated arthritis not OA
  2. Early intervention with immunosuppressive therapy which is often lifelong
  3. Target weight control
  4. Good nutrition
  5. Symptom controlling supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids
  6. Client education about the often significantly progressive nature of the disease, and likely early euthanasia requirement

This is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis; as the body’s immune system drives the attack on the major joints, the dog will experience a fever and symmetrical joint involvement. However, these may have an underlying cause that if identified can be removed and the condition resolved. For example Type 2 immune mediated arthritis is linked with an infection remote from the joints involved. Type 3 immune mediated arthritis is linked to gastrointestinal disease. Type 4 immune mediated arthritis is linked to cancer remote from the joints. If these conditions are cured then the symptoms of arthritis may also resolve.

Key veterinary treatments for this disease are…

  1. Early diagnosis of it being an immune mediated arthritis not OA and further investigation into potential cause.
  2. Early intervention with immunosuppressive therapy which is often lifelong
  3. Target weight control
  4. Good nutrition
  5. Symptom controlling supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids
  6. Client education of the often progressive nature of the disease and the importance of looking for the cause of the immune attack

This is a very rare condition similar to immune mediated arthritis described above, however it affects other systems within the dog’s body too, such as the kidneys, the skin, the nerves and brain. It is uncommon but should be considered in a dog showing significant signs of arthritis plus other disease processes.

Key veterinary treatments for this disease are

  1. Early diagnosis of it being an immune mediated arthritis not OA and further investigation into potential cause.

This form of arthritis is due to an infection, often bacterial, within a joint. It is caused by a penetrating injury, joint surgery or spread from local area. It commonly affects a single large joint and the onset is sudden and severely painful. The joint is generally swollen and hot to the touch. This will lead to severe OA if not identified and treated promptly.

Key veterinary treatments for this disease are

  1. Early diagnosis of it being septic arthritis not OA to limit the destruction of the joint.
  2. Early intervention with antimicrobial therapy which is often for a significant timespan.
  3. Provision of pain relief
  4. Possible surgical intervention
  5. Client education about the importance of treating the joint thoroughly until the infection is cleared, and the fact that there will be likely early onset of OA.