Osteoarthritis in Dogs- Part 1
Is your older dog no longer jumping on the bed? Does she need help getting into the car? After a night of sleep does your dog struggle to stand in the morning? These are all symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA).
OA is a common disease that affects dogs of any age or size although we see it most frequently in older, large breed dogs. What is Osteoarthritis? OA is a disease of the joints. Dogs, cats and people all have a layer of cartilage that coats the bones within our joints, allowing our joints to move smoothly and providing a cushion between our bones. Due to injuries, repeated trauma or defects in conformation (the way the bones and joints develop), cartilage can wear away allowing bone on bone contact within the joints. As the cartilage deteriorates inflammation, swelling and pain occurs in the joint.
What are symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Early in the course of OA, dogs may have minimal to no signs. You may notice that your dog is slowing down or plays ball for shorter periods of time. Changes that are easy to blame on normal aging. As the disease progresses, you may notice she has difficulty jumping into the car and is stiff after her walk or when first getting up. He may eventually refuse to go on walks or limp during the walk. Some dogs may also have changes in behavior, becoming more aggressive due to pain or isolating themselves.
How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
OA is typically diagnosed by a combination of physical exam and radiographs (x-rays). Your veterinarian will perform an exam evaluating joints for swelling, range of motion, pain, and muscle atrophy which may lead to a suspicion of OA. Radiographs that show changes in the bones of the joint can help confirm a diagnosis of OA. In some cases, advanced diagnostics such as CT or MRI may be required to diagnosis OA.
Learn how we treat OA in our next BLOG!