How do you know if your pet has arthritis?
The first signs are a little stiffness when your dog gets up in the morning or when she starts moving but then she warms out of it, and feels pretty good the rest of the day. It's really important to act then or even before.
If you are aware of arthritis you would start prevention a year or so before these signs start showing up.
However, most pet parents don't do anything at this point.
The next stage is pain after your dog has been active, exercising. He or she seems to pay for it afterwards, sore for a period of time about a day or 2 after exercising. At this stage there is already some exposed bone that is starting to cause pain.
In the 3rd stage there's a combination of both. Stiff when your dog gets up and starts moving. He doesn’t warm out of it and if he is active, he is really sore afterwards for a few days. At this stage, of course we have to start pain medication. Eventually after a few years pain medication alone is not enough. This is usually the end of the road for a traditional veterinarian.
At this stage many patients come to me for help usually we choose one or more of the treatment options like Laser, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. Again, it's best to act at the first signs or even before the first signs appear. At this advanced stage of arthritis cure may not possible but there is still hope for some relief.
Prevention of arthritis should be your priority. Let's say you have a healthy dog that is about six, seven or eight years of age. It's really important at this age to start giving the right kind of supplements. I know it's hard to think of giving them supplements for a problem that you do not yet see, but if you have the knowledge that the cartilage that covers the end of the bones starts breaking down a couple years BEFORE dogs show any signs of stiffness or discomfort, and you know this lack of symptoms is because the cartilage has no nerve endings so pets don't feel the cartilage wearing down, then you can act even though you don’t yet see any signs.
You can and should take action to strengthen the joints. This is the time to start the right supplements so that the joints can last longer.
I recommend daily joint supplements for all of my patients six to eight years of age and older. The most common supplements are Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Now days is possible to find these supplements in many different presentations. Liquid, tablets and treats. A lot of the products containing these supplements also contain fatty acids, MSM, and antioxidants that help joints to stay healthy.
Starting these joint supplements before you see any clinical signs of arthritis when you beloved dog still looks completely healthy and active will keep the joints younger, healthier and those joints will last longer compared to pets who have not taken any joint supplements.
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Dr. Ana Falk