We’ve all heard about arthritis and expect to get it in our old age, but your dog is just as likely to suffer from osteoarthritis (OA). With 80% of dogs over 8 years old suffering from OA it is vital we support our dogs.
During my time working at Physio Vet in Crewe, one of Europe’s leading canine arthritis clinics, I worked alongside a specialist team treating a variety of breeds and ages of dogs living with OA. Here I learnt management techniques that transformed the dog’s lives.
What is Canine Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects joints in the body, causing them to become painful and swollen. Normally healthy joints are able to glide past each other due to the smooth surface on each bone. When a joint is affected by OA the surface of the bone is uneven and the surfaces run together causing the pain and swelling.
Gradually overtime joints affected with OA can produce new bone causing the joint to become thickened. This causes more pain in the joint.
What signs can you look out for?
Has your dog begun to slow down out on a walk? Are they not as keen to play with the ball or get out of bed in the morning?
Is your dog reluctant to jump in and out of the car? Or over stiles when on walks.
Are they stiff and more tired than usual after a long walk?
Do they limp occasionally or all the time?
Do they show signs of aggression or walk away when you touch certain areas?
If you suspect your dog has osteoarthritis?
Take your dog to their vets and get them checked out, early diagnosis of OA is crucial to support the longevity of your dog.
How physiotherapy can support your dog with OA?
Physiotherapy is one of the most effective treatments that can provide your dog after being diagnosed with OA. As veterinary physiotherapists we can help support your dog and yourselves to manage their arthritis. Here at NWVP we consider a multimodal approach to be most beneficial for osteoarthritis management and it is not only our treatments which support your dog, there are plenty of things you can do to help your dog.
Pain levels and drug management. Many dogs do not tolerate traditional pain killers or need more support. We can discuss your dogs requirements with your vet and by adding in treatments which will also work to reduce your dogs pain and reliance on pain killers.
Body condition scores. Frequently owners are shocked to discover their dogs are overweight but we will offer guidance and monitor your dogs weight alongside nutritionists who can provide expert advice to help your dog maintain a healthy weight, reducing the stress on their joints.
As mobile physiotherapists we visit your dog at home and can see first hand the challenges facing you and your arthritic dog. Many dogs suffer small slips and falls in the home which lead to more pain and inflammation at the joints. We can advise management alterations, to reduce and help to get the pain under control.
A typical treatment for an OA dog will see your dog receive:
Massage – promotes blood flow, removes toxins and waste products from the muscles. Helps to support your dog’s body as they adjust to OA.
Stretching and Range of Motion – moving a joint increase’s the nutrition and lubrication of that joint. By manually moving limbs we can encourage correct joint function and support use of the joint.
LASER – use of the laser on joints helps to control pain, reduce inflammation and improve circulation. We also use LASER on muscles which have become sore as a result of OA. LASER makes up a valuable addition to our tool kit.
Thermotherapies – We use cold therapy to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. And heat therapies to help warm muscles prior to exercise.
Exercise Plan - Your dog will also receive a bespoke exercise plan tailored to your situation. We find with OA short periods of regular exercise is best when controlling pain and we will be able to advise when to increase exercise levels. Your dog will also have a home exercise programme, which will be tailored to your dog’s needs, supporting them between sessions.
Hydrotherapy - We may refer your dog for hydrotherapy. This is a brilliant exercise for dogs with OA, as the water reduces concussive forces and provides buoyancy, assisting joint nutrition and strengthening muscles without causing pain and inflammation. Hydrotherapy is also excellent tool in the control of your dog’s bodyweight.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about OA and how we can help your dogs.