Degenerative osteoarthritis

The degenerative osteoarthritis is the most common disorder of the joints in small-sized animals, especially in dogs.

In spite of usually affecting the dogs older than seven years old, this disease is nowadays frequent in both big and miniature-sized younger dogs, even in puppies, generally as a consequence of some congenital defects, like hips or elbows displasia, shoulder osteocondritis or knee dislocation, especially in those dogs which have not been eliminated as reproducers by their breeders.

There are some predisposing factors for the degenerative osteoarthritis: certain races (for instance, Golden Retriever, Alsatian, Rotweiler…), obesity, and certain alimentary deficiencies during the growing stage, especially in big-sized dogs.

Basically, the degenerative osteoarthritis is when the cartilage layer that is protecting the bone, gets altered, as a result its uniformity and thickness get reduced. The bone gets worn out and some bones deformities, called osteofitos, arise causing more pain and damage. The capsule around the joint gets thicker and the sinovial liquid, that acts like a lubricant and a shock absorber, looses its consistency and functionality; the joint gets more and more painful and less mobile.

If the degenerative osteoarthritis is a consequence of another previous disease that is causing a defect in the joint, like hips or elbows displasia, disorder or break in any ligament, knee dislocation, etc., surgery is recommended to try to mend this situation and prevent the progress of the degeneration of the joints.

The control of the pain is fundamental in the treatment of this disease in order to improve the animal’s quality of life. There are lots of non-steroids anti-inflammatory medications for this purpose and that must be always prescribed by a professional.

Be careful with the anti-inflammatory medicines for human, since some of them might cause a great damage in the animal’s gastric mucus. Recently, we have had hospitalised a puppy with hip displasia. Its owners decided give it diclofenaco for some weeks to control the pain. The animal needed three blood transfusions, stomach surgery and two weeks in hospital to recover itself.

The use of medicines in benefit of the hydration and joint regeneration (glucosamina, condroitin-sulfat, hialuranic acid, etc.) help in a great deal to treat this disease and improve the animal’s quality of life.

Don’t forget the diet control to prevent obesity. Lately, there have appeared special diets for animals with joints problems, that combine a suitable caloric contribution, with excellent quality proteins and supplements of condroprotector substances.

It is also recommended to do light and regular exercise, like walking on the beach and swimming to recover the muscular mass. Never strong or intense exercise because the animal consequently may be worse the following day.

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