The older a dog gets, the greater his risk of developing osteoarthritis. Can he travel anyway? And what are the symptoms of this disease? How to treat it? How do you know if your companion has any? Here are some answers.
What exactly is osteoarthritis? It’s a progressive and irreversible degradation of the cartilage of one or more joints. This breakdown causes pain and a loss of mobility that increases as the inflammation spreads.
Osteoarthritis can occur in animals because he’s aged (this is also the case in humans), but also because of dysplasia of the hip, or other joint, which affects especially the large breeds of dogs, following dislocation of the patella, common in smaller dogs, but also after a poorly healed fracture that can create inflammation in the joint. Contrary to what one might think, the youngest canids may also be concerned.
How to track it?
In France, about 20% of our four-legged friends develop osteoarthritis. These numbers are improving because of the longer life expectancy and weight gain of animals.
A veterinarian will be able to detect osteoarthritis in dogs after examinations. But some sign can already alert you, such as a limp when the animal gets up in the morning, or after a long nap, pain, difficulty climbing stairs or if he balks out on a ride. As soon as you have the doubt, do not hesitate to consult a professional. The key to good management of osteoarthritis is the management as quickly as possible.
Once diagnosed, several things can be done to relieve the dog’s pain and slow down the development of inflammation. It shouldn’t be forgotten that osteoarthritis can not be cured, it can simply be managed at best. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you anti-inflammatory treatments, to calm the pains. However, they are not safe for the kidneys and liver and should not be taken lightly. The dog must be followed regularly to check that his organs are working well. There are also dietary supplements that protect the joints and alternative methods that can relieve, such as osteopathy, swimming in the pool or at sea and massage.
Your companion will certainly end up in the diet to lose a little weight and less weigh on his joints. He’ll also have to practice regular physical activity. In general, to prevent osteoarthritis, it’s better to monitor your dog’s diet from an early age, to avoid being overweight and to exercise, to stay in shape as long as possible .
Can you travel with your dog if he has osteoarthritis? Yes. It will obviously depend on his state of health and the progress of the disease. But as long as it can move and you have not planned big hikes every day, it can be part of the trip! You have to ask your veterinarian for advice, if you aren’t sure that he supports a trip.
Once on your journey, as at home, stay alert to your pet; don’t force him if he shows signs of pain, let him go at his own pace and adapt your trip to his needs. If he’s following a specific treatment, do not forget it, let him rest when he needs it and, if his size allows, take with you what to wear, like a backpack or a trailer if you’re cycling, so that he can rest while you continue to walk.
Our dog Dena goes on her 9 years and begins to suffer. To help her, she was put on a diet, replacing some of her croquettes with zucchini, and she exercises as often as possible!