But no matter what it is called, the result is pain and inflammation in a dog’s joints. The term “arthritis” is the most common one used to describe this joint disease that can easily -and usually does at some point- incapacitate a dog.
What is Degenerative Joint Disease?
Degenerative joint disease is characterized by the loss of the smooth cartilage that covers and protects the end of the bones in the dog’s movable joints.
There are no nerves in the cartilage, so when it touches the cartilage of another bone, the dog feels no pain.
But when the cartilage wears away due to aging or joint disease, the bone becomes exposed. The bone does have nerves, so when the two bone ends in a joint touch each other, it results in pain and inflammation – sure signs that some form of degenerative joint disease is present.
In degenerative joint disease, small bony projections form on the bone that is close to the joint. This adds considerably to a dog’s pain. This type of degenerative joint disease is progressive, meaning it continues to get worse until the poor dog has considerable difficulty getting up and down by itself. The pain is so severe in some dogs that they are unable to stand or walk.
What causes degenerative joint disease?
Degenerative joint disease can occur simply as a result of wear and tear on an otherwise normal joint and occurs as the dog ages. Veterinarians refer to this stage of the disease as “primary degenerative joint disease”.
Osteoarthritis may also occur as a result of another condition that affects a dog’s joints. This is what is known as “secondary degenerative joint disease” and is identified either as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia.
Which dogs are at risk of developing degenerative joint disease?
Certainly any dog with a congenital joint problem, like hip dysplasia, is going to be more prone to developing degenerative joint disease.
Dogs who have had injury to a joint such as a fracture involving the joint, or a ruptured ligament in the knee will be more likely to develop arthritis.
What are the symptoms of degenerative joint disease?
The symptoms of arthritis will vary as to which joints are involved, the age of the dog, and the severity of the disease.
The first symptoms an owner usually notices is a change in the way a dog walks since the dog will try to put more of its weight on the unaffected limbs. There may be muscle atrophy (reduction in the size of the muscle) in the affected limb because the dog is using it less, or at least putting less weight on it.
For a dog with hip dysplasia in both hind legs, the muscles of those legs may be thin, where the muscles of the chest and shoulders may increase in size because the dog is putting more weight on the front legs.
Many times the dog may find it difficult to get up after lying down and appears to be stiff. The dog also may be unable to jump up into the car. Many dogs with degenerative joint disease find it difficult to go up or down stairs.
Depending upon the amount of pain the dog is experiencing, its appetite may change and it may also choose to be alone more often.
The dog’s joints are generally not swollen and the pain it experiences is a dull aching type, so a dog usually will not cry out in pain. Some dogs will lick or bite at the area that is painful, while others will seek out warm or soft places to sleep.
How is degenerative joint disease diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will take a history of your dog’s symptoms and perform a complete physical exam. X-rays will be taken. Other lab tests or more detailed exams of the affected joints may be undertaken.
⇒ Further reading: Hip dysplasia in dogs – Part 2: Diagnosis & Treatment
How is degenerative joint disease treated?
Some forms of degenerative joint disease can be treated without surgery. Winston’s Joint System is an all-natural formula developed by a Naturopathic Doctor to heal his own beloved dog. For over 20 years, this proven formula has been giving relief from the pain and stiffness of degenerative joint diseases to all breeds and ages of dogs. Owners who have discovered and used Winston’s report that their pets have a new-found vitality and alertness now that they are free of pain.
Degenerative joint disease does not heal itself. It is a progressive, debilitating disease that will continue to worsen without treatment. This is all the more reason to start your dog on Winston’s Joint System as soon as your vet gives you a diagnosis of hip dysplasia, arthritis, OCD, or any degenerative joint disease.
Winston’s is a tried and proven formula that will slow down the progression of your dog’s joint disease and many dogs will respond well and can live comfortably for years. Your dog will love you for the gift of years of pain-free living.
Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.
There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: www.dogshealth.com or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.