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Arthritis is a chronic joint disease that affects mostly older dogs. Symptoms include pain, stiffness and limited mobility. Arthritis can significantly affect your dog's quality of life, but there are ways to help.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that can be caused by wear and tear, injury or infection. The joint cartilage, which serves as a buffer between the bones, is broken down and loses its elasticity. This causes friction, swelling and pain in the affected joints.

How do I recognize arthritis in my dog?

The signs of arthritis can vary depending on the dog and the severity of the condition. Typical symptoms include:

  • Lameness or limping
  • Difficulty standing up, lying down or climbing stairs
  • Decreased activity or willingness to play
  • Changes in behavior, such as aggressiveness or depression
  • Licking or nibbling at the painful joints
  • Weight gain or loss

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your dog, you should see a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and discuss appropriate treatment.

How can I help my dog with arthritis?

Arthritis has no cure, but there are several steps you can take to make your dog's life easier. These include:

  • Weight control: excess weight puts extra stress on the joints and makes symptoms worse. Make sure your dog gets a balanced diet and doesn't overeat.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise keeps your dog's muscles and joints supple and promotes circulation. However, avoid overly strenuous or abrupt activities that could strain joints. Swimming is a good option for dogs with arthritis because it is easy on the joints.
  • Painkillers: your vet can prescribe medications to relieve inflammation and pain. However, these should only be given as directed by your veterinarian, as they can have side effects.
  • Supplements: there are some natural substances that can support joint health, such as glucosamine, chondroitin or omega-3 fatty acids. These can be given as tablets or added to food. Ask your veterinarian about the right dosage for your dog.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help improve your dog's mobility and well-being. This includes massage, stretching, or heat or cold applications. You can do these yourself at home or see a professional physical therapist.
  • Comfort: Make sure your dog has a soft and warm place to sleep that is easily accessible. Avoid hard or cold floors that could irritate joints. You can also use a ramp or stairs to help your dog access higher levels.

Arthritis is a serious disease that can cause your dog a lot of suffering. But with your love and care, you can help him live a happy and pain-free life.

The authors assume that a veterinarian should be consulted if an animal is ill and that medication should only be taken after consultation with a doctor or pharmacist. Only an individual examination can lead to a diagnosis and treatment decision.

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